2016 interview with Socrates: I was Athens’ ‘wacky conspiracy theorist’ for honoring my military/citizen Oath: are people today to live as educated humans, or remain obedient sheeple? (3 of ?)

language warning: Socrates and I speak in the same direct language that caused his execution for “corrupting the young.”

The truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.  ~ quote from The Big Short


Carl: Soc! Back so soon?

Socrates: (cocks his head) Well, talking is pretty much all I’ve got. (smiles)

C: So, you were the “wacky conspiracy theorist” of your day? And this is related to your honoring your Oath that all men take in military training to serve as citizens? That’s what you said you’d like to discuss.

S: Yes. Let’s put today’s conversation in context: our first conversation was to present Americans today with history to consider Earth’s ongoing criminal empires. Our second was connections of the US to the Athenian Empire that destroyed itself through hubris and 27 years of civil war. Now, I’d like us to consider that who you uphold as your brightest historical humans were often highly disrespected in their own time.

In fact, “wacky conspiracy theorist” is perhaps the best label to describe us.

If you agree this argument is valid, then perhaps this label is used today against other bright humans pointing to important truths, and defending their points as required honor of their Oaths to protect and defend your Constitution.

C: Let’s look. How were you a “conspiracy theorist,” Socrates?

S: Among a lifetime of examples, let’s begin with the most obvious: I challenged the hypocrisy and hubris of Athens’ empire. As we discussed in our first two conversations, our ideals of individual freedom we defended from Persia’s empire devolved into forcing other free states to pay tribute to Athens with servitude, taxes, and slaves.

Rejection of our empire meant death, as with the free citizens of Melos.

Imagine, Carl, Athenian “love of freedom” and rhetoric that Sparta and Persia “hate us for our freedoms” when exposed over 27 fucking years as hypocrisy (excuse my Greek) because the “freedom” we loved was only meant for us, and not anyone else. Everyone else had to join our empire to pay tribute to freedoms for us alone! Ha!

The most basic questions of virtue, values, and what the Gods want from us were met with intense avoidance, no matter how practiced I became in asking.

Ad hominem became the usual practice to refer to me. How dare I challenge our government’s actions and values, especially in time of war?!

I was most-often called “crazy,” and spoke “nonsense and lies.” We could literally and safely translate those Greek terms as “wacky conspiracy theorist” today.

Questioning government craziness so extreme we devolved to civil war turned to accuse those asking questions to be called crazy. To inquire how virtue and democratic values matched our policies caused so much cognitive dissonance as you call it, that these essential questions were attacked as nonsense and lies.

C: There’s nothing in the historical record we have that you opposed this 27-year war to defend Athens’ empire; which we call the Peloponnesian War. What were your views and actions with this war, Soc?

S: (snorts) Yeah, let’s talk about this. All 18-year-old men had an Oath of Enlistment into the military, and what it meant to be responsible as a citizen. The Ephebic Oath is to swear upon the Gods to defend our Rights, and “if anyone tries to overthrow the constitution or disobeys it, I will not permit him, but will come to its defense single-handed or with the support of all.” We didn’t have a written constitution, Carl, but a history of rights for personal freedom and government integrity.

All men swore this Oath to the Gods! When I compare Athenian Empire to American Empire today, this is central. All US military, law enforcement, government officials, even teachers such as yourself take an Oath to defend and protect your constitution from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

How aware are Americans to the destruction of all Rights lawfully guaranteed in the US Bill of Rights within the US Constitution, and in tragic-comic inversion of guaranteed limited government?

C: Most are aware that something is wrong, and criminal. That said, most cannot articulate specifics.

S: And what are those with Oaths to defend and protect your Rights doing about this?

C: Good question. Our oligarch-serving and criminally-complicit corporate media never report on the crimes centering in war and money, or anyone challenging those crimes. There are factions who are aware; but who knows how much action is taking place?

S: But given their Oaths, honor demands they voice how illegal their own government has become, refuse unlawful orders, and officers arrest the leaders in government violating the law, yes?

C: Yeah, that’s what the Oath means in letter and intent.

S: The historical lessons of two world wars in your day generated treaties that make wars led by the US, UK, and Israel the opposite of legal. Let’s make that clear, as our conversation’s point is to use history to empower choices for virtue in the present.

Let’s make that clear.

In my day, I served in three campaigns as a hoplite. War on Sparta was lawfully voted in our Assembly, so I served in good-faith. I refused to waste my breath on war stories to those who asked, but redirected conversations into personal inquiry of values for virtue. It was my view that all troubles of society are relative, and would be addressed and forwarded naturally with honest self-examination of what virtue means in day-to-day living.

C: So you challenged all relative ills of society indirectly through philosophical inquiry for virtue?

S: What is philosophy, Carl?

C: The love of wisdom, with wisdom meaning to live what you know, not just know it.

S: Whoa! Carl! That’s among the best responses I’ve heard, and I talk about this a lot!

C: Thanks.

S: Yes, I felt working with my “small voice” within was a direct connection to God, and this voice asked of me gentle support of all I met; a co-creative process for virtue. And that said, (chuckles), the Gods with their sense of humor gave me opportunity to directly challenge a violation of Rights in this war: a story called the “Trial of the Generals.”

C: (wry smile) Yeah, you wacky conspiracy theorist: tell us the story.

S: Ok, so in our system of government of democracy by lot, I was among the prytanies in the month of this trial, and by humor of the Gods and random lot on the day of the trial, I was president of Athens! (laughs) Almost half of citizens held this office just once, and for just one day, and on perhaps the most deciding day to hold it, the Gods pushed me into the light to honor my Oath!

The legal case was from a huge naval victory over Sparta in the Battle of Arginuasae: over 150 of our triremes against 120 from Sparta and Persia. We sank over half their ships while losing just 25 of ours. To add a little realism to our story, let’s view a 2-minute video of the modern Greek Navy’s reconstruction of a trireme, the Olympias:

C: Impressive reconstruction!

S: So the 10 generals managing our fleet split into two groups: 8 immediately left for relief of another fleet and chance to destroy 50 Spartan ships, and 2 remained to rescue our crews and salvage what we could from the remains of our destroyed ships. However, a massive storm forced the two generals to take their ships ashore, or have their own ships destroyed. With each trireme holding a crew of 200 and limited rescue before the storm, we lost over a thousand men. This news sent an emotional shock through Athens. The generals were called home to stand trial for the strategic choice to split the fleet, and then shore their ships in the storm.

C: Ok, we understand the set-up for the trial.

S: Our Rights include separate trials for each accused individual. A citizen acting in direct opposition to that Right, and his Oath to serve it, Callixeinus, motioned that all six generals (two fled to avoid trial), be tried together with immediate vote of guilt or innocence. Those who honored their Oaths to defend the Right of individual trial, and even to have trials in this case, were shouted down and threatened with a motion to apply the same penalty found for the generals to them.

At that point, all honor vanished in the assembly. The men of Athens embraced fear rather than to defend a basic freedom.

As President of the Assembly, I was asked to call to vote the question of guilt or innocence on the six generals. I stood, spoke loudly and clearly, that all of us had an Oath to provide these men with individual trials, and I must exercise my honor to refuse such a vote. Callixeinus and his conspirators spent the rest of the day delaying counter-proposals to affirm separate trials by juries for these six.

The following day the next President chosen by lot refused to honor our Oath, and authorized vote for guilt of the generals. They were voted guilty, and executed the following day at sunset.

This was in 406 BC; seven years before my own execution. This event allowed our citizens a stark choice: support our Oath and Rights for freedom, or descend to dictatorial tyranny to “approve” rights only with oligarchs’ dictates.

Most people chose to support tyranny. As an instigator of this event, I was the lightning rod to be accused of dishonoring my Oath and the Gods, and that such speech as mine corrupted our citizens.

Ironically, this naval victory was so deciding that Sparta offered peace to affirm victory for ongoing Athenian empire. Athens refused it with intent to subjugate Sparta to join our subject states. Sparta rebuilt their navy with help from Persia, kicked our asses at the battle of Aegospotami, and ended the war with our defeat in 404 BC.

If our citizens had taken the opportunity for honor I offered, perhaps we would have accepted peace and victory.

C: They called you “wacky” and a “conspiracy theorist” that execution without trial for these generals was a violation of Oath and Rights.

S: (ironic smile) Yes. Sound familiar to today?

C: Exactly. Anyone with half a brain can see the facts for themselves if they only look: destruction of all US Rights guaranteed in the US Constitution and limited government.

We aren’t “wacky,” we’re honorable and correct to the facts. This is a fundamental choice we present to Americans today: either stand for clear Rights, or lose them to these psychopathic oligarchs who annually kill millions, harm billions, and loot trillions.

S: I have one more story to make my final point that citizens of my time and yours face a basic choice: either stand for your freedoms and honor your Oaths, OR be obedient sheeple to empire.

C: Go.

S: It was in 423 BC, sixteen years before the episode of the generals’ non-trial and unlawful executions: a play targeted me as a “wacky conspiracy theorist” that offered again this fundamental choice to our citizens between being educated, OR believing in whatever they’re told without thought: being dictated to.

It was Aristophanes’ The Clouds. I was its lead character, and portrayed as an evil buffoon taking people’s money to learn how to make good arguments sound bad, and bad arguments sound good.

The play ends with allegorical defeat of good by evil, and the actual family’s son physically attacking his father and threatening to attack his mother. The “awakened” father is shown having the epiphany to finally recognize Socrates as evil, commands his slaves and willing mob to attack my friends with axes, and burn my school to the ground (although I never had one).

This, Carl, was the bullshit I faced from the age of 46 to the end of my life by execution at age 70. And the people chose bullshit over educated consideration of objective facts.

(shakes his head and smiles) Well, at least they gave me a trial, as we discussed, unlike the generals.

C: So that’s where we’re left: abundant history already known to Americans and people around the world to empower their choice in the present: stand for basic truth and facts, or devolve to sheeple.

S: I agree. Thank you for the conversation to shine light on this choice.

C: We’ve done our part to make the choice as clear as possible: either psychopathic service to self – a life without love, or that which we most want for all of us realized for all on this beautiful planet – service to all.

S: All of us on the side of virtue thank your readers for their thoughts, words, and actions for truth and virtue.

That is the name of the game, for the moment.

And more is coming after this phase is complete.

C: Ok, tell us you can’t tell us more.

S: You got it: I can’t tell you more. You chose human limitations, and play a key part for this planet’s spirit and all Life here, but you can’t be wise beyond what I advocated 2400 years ago: point to what everyone can see with confidence, and state it as accurately as you can.

Be at peace that you can’t know more.

At least for now. (broadly smiles)

C: Spouting wacky conspiracy theories even now, eh Soc?

S: (chuckles) Believe what you will. The facts will take you step-by-step to see all that you must. Spirits will guide you, if you let them.

All you have to do is tell the obvious truth.

It’s a light burden, when you surrender to human limitations.

C: Thanks, Socrates. (bro hug)

S: My pleasure.


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Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008 among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.


Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at Carl_Herman@post.harvard.edu

Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers), so some links in my previous work are blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” then click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).


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