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Opinion: Have we created a Gerontocracy?

Gerontocracy is a form of social organization in which old men control society. The Greeks were among the first people to embrace this form of government. In fact, in “The Republic,” Plato favored rule by wise, old philosopher kings. He wrote, “it is for the elder man to rule and for the younger to submit.” 

Plato imagined society undergoing a cycle of change as the reign of the philosophers breaks down, to be taken over by people with property, mainly generals, creating a timocracy. Timocracy would then yield to oligarchy, or rule by the wealthiest members of society. And finally, oligarchy would give way to democracy. Plato believed that nothing good could come of the common people trying to govern themselves. 

Democracy would result in bad decision-making and chaos. So, a person would rise up, pretend to be a friend of the masses, and seize power. He would then establish tyranny, the worst form of governance, in Plato’s estimation.


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