One of my good friends on Blogger, Anadroid, made a great comment on my post about punishment, called Should The Cane Be Brought Back in School?. She said, "yeah I wonder who wants the cane back? Surely not someone who was caned as a child at school? Or maybe that is who wants it back cos' they think it helped them somehow or they are a sadist or they want revenge or something....It's a strange old world."
Strange indeed, as a glance at the comments under the original post at timesonline will show. All the floggers came out to play! This morning me and my friends debated the question, and we decided the following: Those people probably don't care about school discipline, but they're frustrated with what they see as social breakdown. As long as they know that someone, anyone, is getting their ass whipped for it, they're happy.
It's the classic knee-jerk reaction of unthinking people, when they see an example of chaos, or deliberate flouting of authority. They want to exert more and more control until the undesirable elements finally step into line. These kind of people, if they did but know it, are probably only one step (or goose step?) away from Nazism. All they need is a Hitler to lead them.
But it does not end there...
A teacher pointed out that, according to a survey, the majority of the population of England believe that capital punishment for homicide should be re-instated. Not for all types of homicide, only the worst ones such as terrorism, or killing a policeman or a child. Now you may ask, if England is a democracy, why doesn't the Parliament bring back hanging?
Because the representatives believe that the people have got it wrong. Do you think they are acting rightly to set aside the will of the people who elected them? If so, what does that tell us about democracy as a form of government?
The Members of Parliament see themselves as better qualified to judge what is the right action on such an important issue. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato took this idea one step further. He rejected democracy altogether, and proposed (in the Republic) a state ruled by philosophers as a model for the perfect society. Everyone would have their place in the social order, and the elite ruling class would be given a rigorous training regime from an early age, to prepare them for philosophic government. In particular, they would be trained to discern the nature of the Good, so that the people would not need to decide what was good for them. Any form of dissent would be ruthlessly put down. But Plato believed that this system would bring about stability of government and general happiness. A similar proposal can be seen in the writings of Confucius in China.
But are these models of government, sophisticated as they are in their description, really any different from the knee-jerk flog 'em reactions of the ordinary joe in the street?
The education system of training for excellence advocated by Plato, was later adopted in Renaissance Italy, and also in Britain in the elite "public schools", where it served as a model for the American school system, which in turn has influenced the schools of many other countries around the world.
Anyone got any opinions?