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Criticism of Plato “The Republic”

I argue that “The Republic” is a Fascist tract. Plato has written what would today be seen as a blueprint for a totalitarian, elitist and repressive state.

The following criticisms are dealt with in this article:

  • Literary ploys to confuse readers.
  • The use of lies to confuse readers further.

  • The use of the good name of Socrates to confuse even further.

  • Aristocratic prejudice.

  • Tyrannical use of power to keep education for the children of the oligarchy.

  • Censorship of Literature Works of Art and Music.

  • Anti-democratic prejudice.

  • A misuse of the word “justice” or “righteousness”. (Gk. Dikaiosun?)

  • The theory of the “forms” or ideas.

The Republic is a tract, it is designed to persuade people. In this it seems o have succeeded except with some scholars among whom are Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper. The latter writes of, “the spell of Plato”. It certainly seems that he has had generations of politicians, particularly those of an oligarchic persuasion, under his spell.

Using literary ploys is not unusual. When writing a story they can be used legitimately. When trying to persuade they may be tools of subversion in the hands of the skilled. Plato was a writer of great skill. He uses the esteem Socrates is held in to lead his readers down a dubious road of Socratic dialogue. Some scholars see works like the Crito and the Apology to be early works of Plato where we have the real Socrates. The one under review is, it is claimed, a later work. Certainly there is a difference between the Socrates who goes round the city questioning everyone he meets, including slaves, and the Socrates whose twisted argument with Thrasymachus seems out of character. (Book One) He is also out of character with the man who would only educate the children of the guardians and have them never to be able to acknowledge their biological parents. Contrast his own solicitude for his own children in The Apology.

Another ploy is that we are easily misled by sympathizing with the apparent gentleness of Socrates and the crudeness of his opponents, particularly Thrasymachus. The others we meet in the dialogue, Glaucon and Adeimantus are really there as stooges so that we find ourselves, with them, agreeing, “Yes Socrates, of course Socrates.” Any reader must stop immediately at such words and ask what it is that Plato is inviting us into agreeing with.

Socrates imagines a small city of farmers and suggests to his companions that this would have no culture of any worth. It would be, in his words, a “city of pigs”. He develops from this the need for luxuries, and from that the need for all sorts of craftsmen and because of the increase in population the need to “take a slice of our neighbor’s land and so, the need for an army and an even bigger city. This is hardly justice for those neighbors who are to lose out. Nor are a few farmers incapable of the arts of civilization. Plato is determined that justice shall be seen in a state (polis) not in individuals. That is why the lengthy exploration of the subject where Socrates shows every definition put up by his friends is at fault.

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  1. mostafa ibrahim

    On May 3, 2008 at 11:54 am


    If we are to talk about education then we must believe that the state,s greatest and most valuable resource is its people. Therefore all the people need, and ought to have, the best possible education which the state, or private enterprise, together with parental guidance can give them. How that is to be done and what it consists of is beyond the scope of this paper.

  2. Hayate

    On March 28, 2009 at 11:08 pm


    One of the most apparent flaws of this article is the obvious misreading and lack of insight in platos thinking in The Republic. First of all the systems plato elaborates here is a meritocratic system; it’s a system based on achievement. A person in Kallipolis is not born into gold, silver or bronze; They are defined as such through the educational system, (which is, quote, “beyond the scope of this paper”), much like in our society, we are evaluated by our perfomance is school, our grades. Futhermore, this “phoenican tale”(the theory of metals), as plato calls it, is based on this very idea, and the fact that people are indeed different. This lie is justified by the “falsehood in words” as he calls it, meaning platon, or more generally speaking, the philospher is aware of this difference in people, but unable to explain it, hence the “good” lie, the lie thats servers a greater truth. This is infact an important aspect of the philospoher rule; Yes, they use lies to control the populace, but these lies are subjective lies, meaning they relate to something outside themselves, which is ofcourse some greater truth(In the case of the phoenican tale, the greater truth is the fact that people are different). This is further exibited at the end of book 10, where Socrates says about the poets that if anyone can present a logic that disproves his logic of censorship, then he shall with open arms welcome the poets back into the city. I think this shows that not guardians or kings, but logic and truth, are the true rules of Kallipolis.
    Furthermore i will say a few words on your comparisons to hitlerism and stalinism, but first let me remind you of Kallipolis’ primary function and reason of existence; Initially to define, and then to preserve and reinfoce the moral principles of justice. This was the taks assigned to Socrates at the beginning of book 2. In order to do this, injustice has to be purged from society first in order to purge the individual of it. Therefore, plato explains an elaborate sensorship of things he, through reason and logic, deem enemies of justice. The primary focus is on the litterature of the time, which was amoral, which presented the gods and the heroes as cruel, bickering and lacking of moral principles. Furthermore this litterature is notoriously selv contradicting, i.e. and enemy of logic. So these old tales have to go, and new ones have to be invented, which reinforce ideals of good, not evil. By alienating notions of evil and injustice from the staten, and thus the individual, these notions will eventually dissapear, as much as we, for instance, have been alienated from the ideas of nazism and fascism, which was so popualr at the time. By systematically alienating the contemporary individual from these kinds of thoughts they will eventually dissapear, becoming only memories of past faults and errors, and then they might, as we do now, be glad that we rid ourselves of them. Now having proven that platos kallipolis is meritocratic, truth seeking, and logcally deductive in its policymaking, i feel that linking plato to stalinism and hitlerism does him great injustice. What about democracy then? Take England and, say, Zimbabwe. They are both democracies, but one of them is failing. Infact, failed democracies are not rare at all. My point here is that both England and Zimbabwe have the same political tools, democracy, but that doesent make them the same; The same applies to platos republic and Nazi germany or stalins russia. By your logic i could say that all things made with, say, a hammer(as a metaphor for a politcal ideology), amounts to the same thing. Then you could argue that history has shown us, through nazism and communism, that the tools in which these ideologies use tends to yield negative results, but then i will point you back to the numerous failed democracies. If you’re still not convinced, then i will say that you and plato share a common belief; That there is an ideal “form” called government in a parallell universe of perfect forms, and that you believe this to be democracy. I think its safer to say this: People tend to prefer the type governmet which they have been indoctrinated to believe in, which is why you are such a stoic defender of democracy. Now if that is true, then i see no difference between you and platos guardians. Afterall, its the people that make up the state, and the more indoctrinated they are towards they’re form of government, the better that government will function(See the case of England/Zimbabwe, 300 years of indoctrinaton/no indoctrination, and even Popper, whose zealous litterature on political ideology can be seen as an apparent result of his situation, being an austrian jew during the rise of nazism)
    PS: I find it ironic how you bash plato for advocating an oligarchic society, then on the other hand insinuate how elitist our democractic society is (i.e “political masters”) in your article “Barbarism or Civilization”. Maybe you could learn something from plato, like his golden rule of non-contradiction, if you put aside your democratic bias.

  3. Amanda

    On October 3, 2009 at 8:07 pm


    person in Kallipolis is not born into gold, silver or bronze

    Actually they are born into it. They are supposedly born into 3 different spiritual colors. It’s up to parents, teachers etc. to observe these children and teach accordinginly.

  4. Genie

    On October 3, 2009 at 8:20 pm


    And if you don’t think this is an elitist that he is proposing as an ideal city etc. then you really have to look no further then India, Nepal to see a system that was set up just as his republic adovocates. Check up on the varna system. As non-contradiction that’s impossible being that humans are complex. Just look at what the varna system turned into and it will show you that.

    I find it ironic how you bash plato for advocating an oligarchic society, then on the other hand insinuate how elitist our democractic society is (i.e “political masters”) in your article “Barbarism or Civilization”. Maybe you could learn something from plato, like his golden rule of non-contradiction, if you put aside your democratic bias.

    How is it ironic? You can’t have elitist in a democracy or in any society? It’s funny how when someone doesn’t agree with the status quo someone has to go and pull up something else to prove that person is wrong. How about the fact that people interpret things differently. And seriously ask yourself would you want to live in Plato’s republic?

  5. DrG

    On April 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm


    This is inane. After World War II, in the period when the equally useless and later rejected “totalitarian” theory was prominent (the notion that Nazi Germany, fascism, and the USSR were similarly all fascist), there was a witchhunt to find philosophers to blame for the war and the Holocaust and totalitarianism. Plato, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche were typically part of the rogues gallery.

    This impulse, to blame philosophers for political problems is stupid for several reasons. First, it is ahistorical. Plato is writing to address particularly problems, peculiar to Greece and Athens. The world of fascism is a completely different world. Second, the person interpreting the texts invariably doesn’t understand them, their interpretation is inaccurate or unfair. Third, political movements are political movements. They have a problematic relationship to their philosophical forefathers. You can’t blame many of the problems of capitalism on Adam Smith, nor problems with the Soviet Union on Marx.

    The above nonsense is a case in point. Plato’s ideal state – the callipolis – is a kind of though experiment which lays out the contours of what one must do to create a well ordered state. As such, it functions as a critque of existing corrupt political systems in ancient Greece.

    Like what? One is oligarchy. In oligarchy, the rich, driven by greed, run the state in their material interest. Their desires are not ruled by the Good, their reason, and their will working in concert. Instead, like pigs, their desires for pleasure and property, rule. This leads them to oppress others, turns the state into a tool for the advancement of selfinterest. The selfish good rules over the collective good.

    Plato’s critique of oligarchy shouldnt sound all that unfamiliar. We are living it in the United States. But I digress.

    So part of Plato’s political problematic was – how can we avoid oligarchy? 1. In the process of selecting future leaders, remove from consideration for leading, those who are selfish or greedy in their interactions with others. 2. In educating those leaders, test them now and then to see if they are corruptible, 3. Educate those would be leaders to value higher things, like the good, not lower things like material objects. 4. Once educated, would be rulers would be progressively given more and more responsibility, all the while tested for corruption. 5. Only those who have shown a lifelong pattern of selflessness would be given political power, and those only for a short time. Plato’s texts hints at something like rotation in office.6. The ruling class in the society, would not be allowed to own or accumulate wealth.

    Few scholars of Plato believe that he is advocating the direct and literal application of these guidelines. The callipolis is an ideal type, it is a form, which cannot be directly implemented, but which can be used to direct and guide real world action.

    So interpretted reasonaby what is Plato saying that might fit perfectly well in, say our political system. First, in selecting rulers or leaders, beware of those who have manifested signs of corruption and greed before serving in office. Second, watch closely how your rulers react to the temptation of power or other temptations. Third, good leadership depends on good values and education and socialization with an eye toward public service and collective responsibility. Fourth, our leaders should be good wise people, with the ability to control themselves and their emotions and drives and desires, they should have prudence and statemenship. Fifth, one must sever or diminish the relationship between the accumulation of property and wealth and leadership. If leadership is simply a way to be personally powerful, to be rich, to accumulate material things, then the resultant political system will be a mess.

    Hmmm rather than being a blue print for a totalitarian state, a reasonable interpretation of this text, can produce some pretty practical guidelines for critique of an oligarchic political system like ours.

    But most of your problems of interpretation come from ahistorical uses of terms. Take democracy. The democracy in question isn’t nice, touchy feely, democracy in the sense of universal sufferage. Athenian democracy was a political system which excluded workers (mechanics), slaves, and women, from political participation, and the rule of the many. What “many”? The many in question wasn’t the masses of the modern day, they were slave owners. Athenian democracy was a political system in which citizenship was extended to less rich slave owners, not just rich slave owners. So Athenian democracy wasn’t a nice political system that allowed all to participate.

    The battles over oligarchy vs. democracy in the ancient world were battles between rich slave owners and poorer slave owners. Regardless, the resultant society was ruled by a fraction of the population.

    But here your ahistoricism kicks in. Unable to escape from modern conceptions of democracy, and your value judgment that they are good, you attack Plato for being against democracy, as if he would have been an opponent of our Republic. This is nonsense. We cant know what he would think of modern democracy. He lived in a completely different time.

    So what is his beef with Athenian democracy. To him it is a city of pigs. A city where the population is greedy and uncontrolled, selfish and self indulgent. A city where corrupt politicians, advancing their own wealth and power, manipulate the greed, anger, and ignorance of the many. The result of such corruption is cycles – cycles of democracy, oligarchy, tyranny.

    Although Aristotle made the case better and more systematically, Plato is onto something. His basic argument is that material corruption, poor education, and a lack of concern for the public good has produced bad political forms and selfinterested rule by oligarchs (rich slave owners), democrats (less rich slave owners) or tyrants who emerge from those movements.

    Aristotle argued the same. He contends that the instability of the Greek world was a product of the growth of wealth in the Greek world and the pursuit of wealth and power by oligarchs, democrats, and tyrants. Aristotle argues that these sociological changes in the Greek world have made it virtually impossible for a particular individual or group to rule in the collective good.

    There is another widely held interpretation of Plato’s Republic. Some argue the point of the work is to warn philosophers to avoid politics altogether. This school argues that what Plato is really saying is this – to create a good political system, you would have to make so many changes which would be so extensive, that these changes would be impossible to make. So, since the Callipolis is impossible, the wise philosopher will flee politics. Because unless you completely revamp the system, anyone really pure and good and balanced entering politics will either fail or worse, be hounded and killed like Socrates.

    Your ahistorical interpretation of Plato’s Republic as a blueprint for direct application for the production of good political systems in the modern age is wooden and simplistic. Plato is either inventing a kind of abstract ideal that can be used in practical ways to critique or improve existing political systems, or he is saying “politics is so fucked up, you would have to do so much to fix it, that you should flee it or end up like Socrates.”

    Finally, there is nothing in the life of either Plato or Socrates to support wild accusations that either would support taking political power, pursuing your self interest, and oppressing others. Socrates did public service, he refused to obey orders inconsistent with the laws, and even when he was to be executed he refused to flee to save himself, out of respect for the laws. In Plato’s work he is always arguing against people like Thracymachus or Callicles (the Gorgias), who would grab political power and oppress others. Nothing in his life suggest he was power mongering or oppressive.

    And if you are confused at place, it is likely because you either tried to understand this work without enough background reading or didn’t have a good teacher. Your confusion also was likely increased by your refusal to get out of 20th century political categories and ways of thinking. This kind of cultural centrism prevents readers from understanding texts because it keeps them external to the text, they never get into the logic of the work.

    It also doesn’t help if the people introducing you to the text are people like Russell and Poppler who misintepreted the texts as part of their shadow boxing of some of the political issues of their day.

  6. DrG

    On April 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm


    This is inane. After World War II, in the period when the equally useless and later rejected \”totalitarian\” theory was prominent (the notion that Nazi Germany, fascism, and the USSR were similarly all fascist), there was a witchhunt to find philosophers to blame for the war and the Holocaust and totalitarianism. Plato, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche were typically part of the rogues gallery.

    This impulse, to blame philosophers for political problems is stupid for several reasons. First, it is ahistorical. Plato is writing to address particularly problems, peculiar to Greece and Athens. The world of fascism is a completely different world. Second, the person interpreting the texts invariably doesn\’t understand them, their interpretation is inaccurate or unfair. Third, political movements are political movements. They have a problematic relationship to their philosophical forefathers. You can\’t blame many of the problems of capitalism on Adam Smith, nor problems with the Soviet Union on Marx.

    The above nonsense is a case in point. Plato\’s ideal state – the callipolis – is a kind of though experiment which lays out the contours of what one must do to create a well ordered state. As such, it functions as a critque of existing corrupt political systems in ancient Greece.

    Like what? One is oligarchy. In oligarchy, the rich, driven by greed, run the state in their material interest. Their desires are not ruled by the Good, their reason, and their will working in concert. Instead, like pigs, their desires for pleasure and property, rule. This leads them to oppress others, turns the state into a tool for the advancement of selfinterest. The selfish good rules over the collective good.

    Plato\’s critique of oligarchy shouldnt sound all that unfamiliar. We are living it in the United States. But I digress.

    So part of Plato\’s political problematic was – how can we avoid oligarchy? 1. In the process of selecting future leaders, remove from consideration for leading, those who are selfish or greedy in their interactions with others. 2. In educating those leaders, test them now and then to see if they are corruptible, 3. Educate those would be leaders to value higher things, like the good, not lower things like material objects. 4. Once educated, would be rulers would be progressively given more and more responsibility, all the while tested for corruption. 5. Only those who have shown a lifelong pattern of selflessness would be given political power, and those only for a short time. Plato\’s texts hints at something like rotation in office.6. The ruling class in the society, would not be allowed to own or accumulate wealth.

    Few scholars of Plato believe that he is advocating the direct and literal application of these guidelines. The callipolis is an ideal type, it is a form, which cannot be directly implemented, but which can be used to direct and guide real world action.

    So interpretted reasonaby what is Plato saying that might fit perfectly well in, say our political system. First, in selecting rulers or leaders, beware of those who have manifested signs of corruption and greed before serving in office. Second, watch closely how your rulers react to the temptation of power or other temptations. Third, good leadership depends on good values and education and socialization with an eye toward public service and collective responsibility. Fourth, our leaders should be good wise people, with the ability to control themselves and their emotions and drives and desires, they should have prudence and statemenship. Fifth, one must sever or diminish the relationship between the accumulation of property and wealth and leadership. If leadership is simply a way to be personally powerful, to be rich, to accumulate material things, then the resultant political system will be a mess.

    Hmmm rather than being a blue print for a totalitarian state, a reasonable interpretation of this text, can produce some pretty practical guidelines for critique of an oligarchic political system like ours.

    But most of your problems of interpretation come from ahistorical uses of terms. Take democracy. The democracy in question isn\’t nice, touchy feely, democracy in the sense of universal sufferage. Athenian democracy was a political system which excluded workers (mechanics), slaves, and women, from political participation, and the rule of the many. What \”many\”? The many in question wasn\’t the masses of the modern day, they were slave owners. Athenian democracy was a political system in which citizenship was extended to less rich slave owners, not just rich slave owners. So Athenian democracy wasn\’t a nice political system that allowed all to participate.

    The battles over oligarchy vs. democracy in the ancient world were battles between rich slave owners and poorer slave owners. Regardless, the resultant society was ruled by a fraction of the population.

    But here your ahistoricism kicks in. Unable to escape from modern conceptions of democracy, and your value judgment that they are good, you attack Plato for being against democracy, as if he would have been an opponent of our Republic. This is nonsense. We cant know what he would think of modern democracy. He lived in a completely different time.

    So what is his beef with Athenian democracy. To him it is a city of pigs. A city where the population is greedy and uncontrolled, selfish and self indulgent. A city where corrupt politicians, advancing their own wealth and power, manipulate the greed, anger, and ignorance of the many. The result of such corruption is cycles – cycles of democracy, oligarchy, tyranny.

    Although Aristotle made the case better and more systematically, Plato is onto something. His basic argument is that material corruption, poor education, and a lack of concern for the public good has produced bad political forms and selfinterested rule by oligarchs (rich slave owners), democrats (less rich slave owners) or tyrants who emerge from those movements.

    Aristotle argued the same. He contends that the instability of the Greek world was a product of the growth of wealth in the Greek world and the pursuit of wealth and power by oligarchs, democrats, and tyrants. Aristotle argues that these sociological changes in the Greek world have made it virtually impossible for a particular individual or group to rule in the collective good.

    There is another widely held interpretation of Plato\’s Republic. Some argue the point of the work is to warn philosophers to avoid politics altogether. This school argues that what Plato is really saying is this – to create a good political system, you would have to make so many changes which would be so extensive, that these changes would be impossible to make. So, since the Callipolis is impossible, the wise philosopher will flee politics. Because unless you completely revamp the system, anyone really pure and good and balanced entering politics will either fail or worse, be hounded and killed like Socrates.

    Your ahistorical interpretation of Plato\’s Republic as a blueprint for direct application for the production of good political systems in the modern age is wooden and simplistic. Plato is either inventing a kind of abstract ideal that can be used in practical ways to critique or improve existing political systems, or he is saying \”politics is so fucked up, you would have to do so much to fix it, that you should flee it or end up like Socrates.\”

    Finally, there is nothing in the life of either Plato or Socrates to support wild accusations that either would support taking political power, pursuing your self interest, and oppressing others. Socrates did public service, he refused to obey orders inconsistent with the laws, and even when he was to be executed he refused to flee to save himself, out of respect for the laws. In Plato\’s work he is always arguing against people like Thracymachus or Callicles (the Gorgias), who would grab political power and oppress others. Nothing in his life suggest he was power mongering or oppressive.

    And if you are confused at place, it is likely because you either tried to understand this work without enough background reading or didn\’t have a good teacher. Your confusion also was likely increased by your refusal to get out of 20th century political categories and ways of thinking. This kind of cultural centrism prevents readers from understanding texts because it keeps them external to the text, they never get into the logic of the work.

    It also doesn\’t help if the people introducing you to the text are people like Russell and Poppler who misintepreted the texts as part of their shadow boxing of some of the political issues of their day.

  7. Glenn

    On April 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm


    This is inane. After World War II, in the period when the equally useless and later rejected \\\”totalitarian\\\” theory was prominent (the notion that Nazi Germany, fascism, and the USSR were similarly all fascist), there was a witchhunt to find philosophers to blame for the war and the Holocaust and totalitarianism. Plato, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche were typically part of the rogues gallery.

    This impulse, to blame philosophers for political problems is stupid for several reasons. First, it is ahistorical. Plato is writing to address particularly problems, peculiar to Greece and Athens. The world of fascism is a completely different world. Second, the person interpreting the texts invariably doesn\\\’t understand them, their interpretation is inaccurate or unfair. Third, political movements are political movements. They have a problematic relationship to their philosophical forefathers. You can\\\’t blame many of the problems of capitalism on Adam Smith, nor problems with the Soviet Union on Marx.

    The above nonsense is a case in point. Plato\\\’s ideal state – the callipolis – is a kind of though experiment which lays out the contours of what one must do to create a well ordered state. As such, it functions as a critque of existing corrupt political systems in ancient Greece.

    Like what? One is oligarchy. In oligarchy, the rich, driven by greed, run the state in their material interest. Their desires are not ruled by the Good, their reason, and their will working in concert. Instead, like pigs, their desires for pleasure and property, rule. This leads them to oppress others, turns the state into a tool for the advancement of selfinterest. The selfish good rules over the collective good.

    Plato\\\’s critique of oligarchy shouldnt sound all that unfamiliar. We are living it in the United States. But I digress.

    So part of Plato\\\’s political problematic was – how can we avoid oligarchy? 1. In the process of selecting future leaders, remove from consideration for leading, those who are selfish or greedy in their interactions with others. 2. In educating those leaders, test them now and then to see if they are corruptible, 3. Educate those would be leaders to value higher things, like the good, not lower things like material objects. 4. Once educated, would be rulers would be progressively given more and more responsibility, all the while tested for corruption. 5. Only those who have shown a lifelong pattern of selflessness would be given political power, and those only for a short time. Plato\\\’s texts hints at something like rotation in office.6. The ruling class in the society, would not be allowed to own or accumulate wealth.

    Few scholars of Plato believe that he is advocating the direct and literal application of these guidelines. The callipolis is an ideal type, it is a form, which cannot be directly implemented, but which can be used to direct and guide real world action.

    So interpretted reasonaby what is Plato saying that might fit perfectly well in, say our political system. First, in selecting rulers or leaders, beware of those who have manifested signs of corruption and greed before serving in office. Second, watch closely how your rulers react to the temptation of power or other temptations. Third, good leadership depends on good values and education and socialization with an eye toward public service and collective responsibility. Fourth, our leaders should be good wise people, with the ability to control themselves and their emotions and drives and desires, they should have prudence and statemenship. Fifth, one must sever or diminish the relationship between the accumulation of property and wealth and leadership. If leadership is simply a way to be personally powerful, to be rich, to accumulate material things, then the resultant political system will be a mess.

    Hmmm rather than being a blue print for a totalitarian state, a reasonable interpretation of this text, can produce some pretty practical guidelines for critique of an oligarchic political system like ours.

    But most of your problems of interpretation come from ahistorical uses of terms. Take democracy. The democracy in question isn\\\’t nice, touchy feely, democracy in the sense of universal sufferage. Athenian democracy was a political system which excluded workers (mechanics), slaves, and women, from political participation, and the rule of the many. What \\\”many\\\”? The many in question wasn\\\’t the masses of the modern day, they were slave owners. Athenian democracy was a political system in which citizenship was extended to less rich slave owners, not just rich slave owners. So Athenian democracy wasn\\\’t a nice political system that allowed all to participate.

    The battles over oligarchy vs. democracy in the ancient world were battles between rich slave owners and poorer slave owners. Regardless, the resultant society was ruled by a fraction of the population.

    But here your ahistoricism kicks in. Unable to escape from modern conceptions of democracy, and your value judgment that they are good, you attack Plato for being against democracy, as if he would have been an opponent of our Republic. This is nonsense. We cant know what he would think of modern democracy. He lived in a completely different time.

    So what is his beef with Athenian democracy. To him it is a city of pigs. A city where the population is greedy and uncontrolled, selfish and self indulgent. A city where corrupt politicians, advancing their own wealth and power, manipulate the greed, anger, and ignorance of the many. The result of such corruption is cycles – cycles of democracy, oligarchy, tyranny.

    Although Aristotle made the case better and more systematically, Plato is onto something. His basic argument is that material corruption, poor education, and a lack of concern for the public good has produced bad political forms and selfinterested rule by oligarchs (rich slave owners), democrats (less rich slave owners) or tyrants who emerge from those movements.

    Aristotle argued the same. He contends that the instability of the Greek world was a product of the growth of wealth in the Greek world and the pursuit of wealth and power by oligarchs, democrats, and tyrants. Aristotle argues that these sociological changes in the Greek world have made it virtually impossible for a particular individual or group to rule in the collective good.

    There is another widely held interpretation of Plato\\\’s Republic. Some argue the point of the work is to warn philosophers to avoid politics altogether. This school argues that what Plato is really saying is this – to create a good political system, you would have to make so many changes which would be so extensive, that these changes would be impossible to make. So, since the Callipolis is impossible, the wise philosopher will flee politics. Because unless you completely revamp the system, anyone really pure and good and balanced entering politics will either fail or worse, be hounded and killed like Socrates.

    Your ahistorical interpretation of Plato\\\’s Republic as a blueprint for direct application for the production of good political systems in the modern age is wooden and simplistic. Plato is either inventing a kind of abstract ideal that can be used in practical ways to critique or improve existing political systems, or he is saying \\\”politics is so fucked up, you would have to do so much to fix it, that you should flee it or end up like Socrates.\\\”

    Finally, there is nothing in the life of either Plato or Socrates to support wild accusations that either would support taking political power, pursuing your self interest, and oppressing others. Socrates did public service, he refused to obey orders inconsistent with the laws, and even when he was to be executed he refused to flee to save himself, out of respect for the laws. In Plato\\\’s work he is always arguing against people like Thracymachus or Callicles (the Gorgias), who would grab political power and oppress others. Nothing in his life suggest he was power mongering or oppressive.

    And if you are confused at place, it is likely because you either tried to understand this work without enough background reading or didn\\\’t have a good teacher. Your confusion also was likely increased by your refusal to get out of 20th century political categories and ways of thinking. This kind of cultural centrism prevents readers from understanding texts because it keeps them external to the text, they never get into the logic of the work.

    It also doesn\\\’t help if the people introducing you to the text are people like Russell and Poppler who misintepreted the texts as part of their shadow boxing of some of the political issues of their day.

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