Plato’s ship of state

“Imagine there was a captain of a ship. He’s bigger than any of his crew, but slightly deaf, shortsighted and limited in seamanship. The crew quarrel with one other about the navigation, each thinking he ought to be at the wheel. None have actually learned the art, but all insist that it can’t be taught and are ready to string anyone up who disagrees.
Naturally, they do all they can to persuade the captain to give them the helm. They form into gangs but know that if one group is favoured, their rivals will throw them overboard, incapacitate the honest captain, take control of the ship, help themselves to the booty and turn the boat into a drunken pleasure-cruise. Ultimately they give way to the man who can best manipulate the captain; he achieves this by praising his master’s knowledge of the sea and condemning everyone else as worthless.
None of them understand that the true navigator must study the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds and all the other aspects of managing a ship and it’s crew if he is to be really fit to direct it. They all think that it’s impossible to acquire the professional skill needed for such control (not that they can conceive of it) and that there’s really no such thing as an art of navigation. With all this going on, aren’t the sailors on such a ship going to regard a true navigator – should they meet them – as a wordspinner and a stargazer and therefore of no use to them at all?”
apologies to Plato © orlando kimber, all rights reserved