This article claims that a Stoic has no reason to get depressed by bad political conditions since an evil government is not really a bad thing for a Stoic - since nothing can be bad for a Stoic except his own bad choices. Even so, the article claims, a Stoic acknowledges that an evil government is capable of doing "terrible things" to people.
To make this line of thinking work we have to think of ourselves as Stoics who can't be harmed by an evil government - since nothing can be bad for us as Stoics except our own bad choices - and other people as non-Stoics who will suffer terribly if they are oppressed by the evil government.
In my opinion, this interpretation of Stoicism is flat out wrong.
First of all, an evil government is indeed a bad thing. The Stoics distinguish between internal good/bad things such as our own good or bad choices and external good/bad things such as other people's happiness or unhappiness:
"some bad things are in the soul, i.e., vices and vicious actions. The external ones are having an imprudent fatherland and an imprudent friend and their unhappiness."
- Diogenes Laertius , 7.96
Almost all modern interpreters of Stoicism will deny that there can be such a thing as external good or bad things - since they think that this would mean that our happiness does not just depend on ourselves but also on the happiness of other people. Because of this they will insist that the happiness of other people must be an indifferent to a Stoic.
In my opinion, this is an absurd interpretation of Stoicism which both ignores that all sources describes the happiness of other people as an external good and not an indifferent and overlooks the fact that the sources makes it very clear that not all goods are essential to our happiness.
A Stoic will work hard for the common good since a thriving community is exactly a good thing. It is not an indifferent. But it also the kind of good thing that a Stoic realizes that he can't always have.
Secondly, nothing an evil government can do to any person - Stoic or non-Stoic - can be a terrible thing since the only terrible thing that can befall any human being - whether they think of themselves as Stoics or not - is their own bad choices.
A Stoic will still fight the evil government, of course, since the evil government can certainly make conditions more challenging but a good Stoic's first priority in caring for other people will always be to try to improve their ability to deal with anything life presents them with. In other words - to make them as strong and wise as possible.
|Gladiator fighting a lion. Roman fresco from the amphitheatre of Merida, Spain; 2nd century CE. Location: Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Merida, Spain.|