Have you ever felt the mocking tone
of those who disagree with common sense
whose point of view bears truly little weight.

To deny understanding. Socratic debate.

For whom jocular bullying is their choice of stick
to avoid a dialectic path to contradiction
better to decry with pejorative rhetoric.

To belittle rational thought. Compassion. Love.

Blinded by niggling insecurities
to win, at all costs, to conquer all
too keen to let the ego’s triumph reign,

… to understand the conflict between Demos and Kratos.


[This poem alludes to both direct and representative democracy, although the word, Dēmokratía, actually means ‘direct democracy’ as it was implemented in Ancient Greece circa 500 BCE, as opposed to representative democracy. It is also a heavy dig at the unwillingness of politicians to engage in Socratic dialogue or dialectic debate as well as an apparent inability to recognise the ‘Kratos’ in Greek mythology, as the divine personification of strength. In modern terms, this is the competitive flexing of muscles, particularly prevalent in young men, who are so often preparing for conflict … forgetting that, if they are prepared for conflict, they are far more likely and willing to engage in conflict. As the years pass and the generation of those who returned from the World Wars with their physical and mental scars, die and their ability to communicate the horrors of war is removed, new generations of young men will continue to be willing to go off to war, or fight in the streets for whatever gives an outlet to their testosterone, anxieties and quest for conflict.

This also bears comparison with new generations of ambitious business minded men, women and politicians, who have had the advantage and privilege of learning from the best and wisest of educators. It is interesting that it is often that same ‘old guard’, who themselves so often become worth listening to when they no longer have to tow the corporate or party line and are beyond selfish ambition. Capable members of each new generation are, with the exception of some remarkable individuals, rarely able to transcend personal selfish ambition and sustain a mission to make things better for humanity, because they become blinded by their own ambition … their own version of Kratos, the divine, entitled personification of their intellectual rather than physical manifestation of strength]


© 2018 John Anstie

All rights reserved

About PoetJanstie

“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult” ~ Hippocrates. As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life. His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream! His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man. What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle. His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”
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5 Responses to Dēmokratía

  1. MOMENTS says:

    A wonderfully written philosophical poem, very eloquent, evoking our eternal problem of “the ego’s triumph” that leads to all sorts of power abuse affecting human relationships at all levels “to win, at all costs, to conquer all”.

    While reading your piece I especially thought of the Holocaust anniversary, of the survivors of the concentration camps that are dying as they age, which risks our forgetting what should never be forgotten in order not to repeat the abominable. Your poem also made me think of many of our current world leaders like Trump, Putin, Xi Jinping, Erdogan and a long etcetera of totalitarians, fascists, some of them mentally ill, narcissists… How to solve the conflict “between Demos and Kratos”?

    Liked by 1 person

    • PoetJanstie says:

      You’re right, contemporary totalitarian regimes were very much in my mind as I wrote this, but also about ambitious individuals, whom Ive encountered in the past, particularly in my working life, who are compelled by some kind of psychological sense of inadequacy. And you’re right (again) those leaders are mentally ill or have personality disorders. Yes we must never forget the Holocaust, but I’m afraid genocide and so-called ethnic cleansing keeps happening as populations overflow; as cultures clash. Yet here I am in the UK, on the verge of separating ourselves from a great peace process; one which has enabled a whole generation of young people to grow up knowing and living with other cultures. I am in grief.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jo-Anne Teal says:

    John, you are one of the very few poets I would trust to successfully invoke Socrates and Socratic dialogue into a poem of such immediacy. The daily news of daily events and of daily ramblings, from both sides of the pond, gnaws at my heart and head too.

    Thank you for expressing your thoughts and expressing them so eloquently.


    • PoetJanstie says:

      Jo-Anne, I’m sorry not to have seen your comment earlier, and approved it … I would have thought you already were (very much) an approved reader of my blog. This poem was started many moons ago, but I couldn’t remember doing anything with it. So I edited it to ensure the language was reasonably correct and up to date and posted it here. As I’ve said before, if I only ever get one comment from a reader of my poetry, I value yours most of all, not only because you took the time to write it, but also because you do so articulately. Thank you. And yes, I too feel in a constant state of slow burning anxiety at political events on both sides of the pond. Thank God for writing and singing, always a chance to immerse myself in something that can be so spiritually uplifting.

      Liked by 1 person

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