After talking and discussing Socrates’ apology, I started wondering if there were any parallels of the state’s accusation of “corrupting the youth” to today’s world and society and if Socrates would have the same gripes with our society today than he did when he was criticizing Athens’ values and reasoning for his actions.
When thinking about similar circumstances to that of Socrates, The first things that came to mind were the Salem Witch trials and McCarthyism. Although they’re not quite the same circumstance, all three of the situations featured accused and punished people for crimes that were not necessarily crimes. Both McCarthyism and the Salem witch trials were issues because the perceived safety and matters of the state were valued higher than the matters of the family and the values of the state emphasized and were set firmly on the importance of conformity, consensus, and compliance. And all share and ideal figure or thought that must be upheld. For Athens, it was Achilles and his sacrifice, for McCarthyism, it was capitalism and the abolishment of all its enemies, and for the Witch trials, it was the notion of purity and godliness or piety. Dissent or wavering thought, in McCarthyism was treated with immediate accusations of un-patriotism and the intense suspicion of being a communist, which was on par with being an outright traitor and corruptor of the youth. The Salem trials treated different thought or behavior as a sign of witchcraft and a sign of anything ungodly.
In the McCarthy era, those who were accused of being a communist were most often accused because, like Socrates, they were criticizing society’s current values and could gain an audience to their concerns. Similar to Socrates’ situation where, instead of admitting that he corrupted the youth or committed a crime, he debated why what he did was considered illegal and how instead, he was improving society, those accused in both the McCarthy era and the Salem trials were required to admit their guilt and their wrong doing to be freed from persecution and those who did not and maintained that they were innocent were left punished for the suspicion of a crime.
I thought this was interesting to tie into our discussion about the apology because sometimes I feel as though the struggles and philosophies that we talk about are outdated and unproblematic for our world today, which is the same thing I first thought about the apology. The fact that someone could be killed because they challenged the vales of society seemed unrealistic for today because we seem more reasonable than that but I was able to find similar situations that are much more recent that show the relevance of these topics to modern times.