Roberto Rossellini
Roberto Rossellini

“Socrates” is in no way just a historical film about the great philosopher of the antiquity and his conflict with some of his fellow Athenians. This film makes endless parallels between how Socrates was treated under Athenian democracy and how intellectuals and humanistic education are perceived in today’s formally democratic societies.

For Rossellini the animosity toward Socrates in ancient Athena is a metaphor of growing animosity toward independent scholarship and critical thinking by today’s totalitarian but also democratic societies that are more and more occupied with power and profit and afraid of autonomous knowledge and education. Rossellini who knew life under Mussolini and in a post-fascist democracy suggests that to be free from totalitarian ideological despotism is not enough to become a genuinely democratic person, that people who live within a democracy but are without humanistic education, are prone to be intolerant to everybody who don’t share their worldview and existential tastes and, therefore, tend to behave like typical totalitarian people. Democratic procedures without democratic mind, soul and heart are like an empty shell, like sails without wind, or like shoes without feet.

The fact that today in US there is less and less money for education, that school teachers and college professors are losing their job, and their profession is less and less respected, colleges are more and more militarized in their research programs, and giant sport events, pop-music and video-games have become children and youth’s main interlocutor during their free time – all this can be a death sentence to democracy. Socrates is killed again and again in history.

Rossellini’s Socrates amidst ancient Athenians

Posted on May 19 2011 –   To Revenge Socrates (For Being “Too Smart”) – Totalitarianism and Formal Democracy’s Attack on The Intellectuals  by Acting-Out Politics