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.