When did politics lose its philosophy?
“Do what is necessary, and whatever the reason of a social animal naturally requires, and as it requires.” - Marcus Aurelius
It may be odd to say that politics and Stoicism are necessary partners in a society which has logos, which is reason. You’d be mistaken to think that to remain stoic you must remove yourself from things that bother you, or think that politics won’t benefit your life. Did we forget that Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor? Cato a Senator? Cicero or Publius Rufus having professional backgrounds in politics? Even Seneca the Younger would call out injustices or question morality within law. I understand the hesitation, though. Politics is not a fun subject for everyone, and is extremely complicated in predictive resolve and outcomes. To think lightly of its complications is ignorance.
Although its complications and frustrations, it's impossible to live a life of virtue without upholding those virtues for your fellow man. Politics and governance holds many playing cards that could affect those virtues. Justice for all mankind, wisdom to be gained by everybody, courage to stand up for what is right, and temperance in calling out your fellow man and politicians when they've gone too far.
Since ancient roman times we can all agree that politics in all its frustrating complications has gotten better for all of mankind. To deny that is not to understand our history. Not just know it, but understand it. You can know why the seasons change but you must also understand why one season is necessary for the other’s outcome. But in a time where logic and reason are most needed, where are they in today’s politics? Enter the Sophists, who by definition manipulated fact to discredit logical reasoning. Appealing to your emotions so you have a connection with their words. It's nothing new, it's always happened. If you ever wonder why politics moves so slow its resolve is because of all of the information that could not be true.
Studies need to be concluded, verified, and tested again with more data to confirm the verified information. Unfortunately, we live in a world today where anyone can have a platform and grow that said platform to a degree that whatever is true or not will be followed and demanded as fact. We as stoics must remember that philosophy is a love of wisdom, and it is always better to be corrected that to be led to be a fool. Challenging your thoughts and what you believe is true intelligence. The world as we know it is run by many Sophists, it is more important than ever as modern Stoics to challenge them as well as yourself.
Have no shame in being corrected and learning but feel no remorse in fighting for mankind’s virtues to remain intact. Politics needs us, in all its mess it needs more Stoicism than ever, it needs calm reason and morality in discussion. Remember that Stoics shouldn’t play left or right, we cannot deny that today’s conservatives fight for freedom and equality with the ferocity of the democrats. Many of our philosophies are the same, we only differ in how we attain it. Stoicism is not about being passive, it's about action, so take action where it's needed for not only yourself but your neighbor.