Platos Kallipolis

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Taruna Hariparsad

464716
Phil2002:Essay (Block One)

Topic : To what extent is Plato’s Kallipolis a totalitarian state ?

PHIL2002Taruna Hariparsad
Essay: The Republic 464716

Topic: To what extent is Plato’s Kallipolis a totalitarian state?

Introduction:

Plato’s Republic is to a very large extent totalitarian, or rather on the “surface” appears to be totalitarian in the way he formulates it and lays down it blue prints. This is due to the fact that it seems that Plato is more concerned about the happiness of the state as a whole even if it means some individuals must suffer, the government is not elected by its citizens and the interests of the ruling class rule over the city. These are but a few of the elements of a totalitarian state. However it can also be argued that even though Plato’s Kallipolis may appear totalitarian, Plato has done so as he would want man to reflect on the ideas he has laid down and whether they are just or not. We can never be too sure as to what Plato truly means in the Republic and what he has just put forward as a stimulus or thinking point. Many argue that Plato’s Kallipolis is not totalitarian as The Republic speaks of not only a happy state but a happy individual as well. This is true. The degree to which Plato’s Kallipolis can be regarded as totalitarian state depends on the definition of a totalitarian state and this may differ slightly between different sources.

Firstly we will describe what a totalitarian state is in general sense and the most supported views of what totalitarianism is. Secondly we will evaluate Plato’s Kallipolis and determine too what extent it fits the profile of a totalitarian state. Thirdly and finally we will evaluate whether it is necessarily a negative thing and whether Plato truly believes the ideas he has put forward.

What is a Totalitarian state?

By definition a totalitarian state is “a government that subordinates the individual to the state and strictly controls all aspects of life by coercive measures.” (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). As the definition indicates, a totalitarian state is one in which the government strips away individualism to a large extent and uses coercive (often harmful and violent) methods as well as propaganda to do so. In a broader sense, it is a state where the system of government seeks to control almost all aspects of public and private life. It does so in order to achieve certain goals through the exploitation of the private lives of its citizens, (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/600435/totalitarianism). The totalitarian government is usually won over due to the charismatic oratory of its leaders, and thus they gain major support. This is seen clearly in the totalitarian states of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under the leadership of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin respectively. There governments in the beginning had major support from their citizens due to their charismatic and fiery leadership techniques. Even though we agree today that their policies we harsh, cruel and unjust, at the time they had great support. This is different from and authoritarian , tyrannical and dictatorial state. Totalitarian goes deeper into private invasion than the other systems of government.

In general a totalitarian government pursues a specific goal or ideal. It will pursue this goal or ideal no matter what the cost. This means that anything at all (no matter how absurd or cruel ) that will further this goal is pursued and anything that will cause this goal or ideal not to be achieved is rejected (no matter how right or good it is). This leads to an ideology which is used to explain everything the government does and rationalizes problems that come into opposition with the ideal, (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/600435/totalitarianism).

Totalitarian states are usually marked with the breaking down of social...
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