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Was Plato a totalitarian

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Was Plato a totalitarian

  • Course: Political Theory
  • School: The London School of Economics
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Totalitarianism consists of a combination of two features: authoritarianism and ideology. By authoritarianism, it means a system in which ordinary citizens have no share, directly or indirectly, in making political decisions1. The latter feature implies a ubiquitous scheme of values propagated by some person or persons and fostered by institutional means in order to direct all aspects of private and public life2 that are significant to politics. With this definition in mind, this essay will put forward an argument in favour of the notion that Plato was a totalitarian, evident in his conception of the kallipolis which drives forward a totalitarian and utopian dream for a ‘natural class rule of the wise few over the ignorant many’3. On the contrary, a literary reading of Plato’s Republic could dismiss such ideas as independent of Plato’s voice in the first place. Furthermore, it has been put forward that Plato’s idealistic state is based on virtue and the happiness of the people, unlike totalitarian states. This essay will discuss and evaluate the extent to which Plato can be considered a totalitarian judging from his ideas on the ideal city-state in The Republic.

Plato was a totalitarian judging from The Republic. With the definition of totalitarianism in mind, Plato illustrates features of authoritarianism and ideology in his political worldview, which entails a strict division of classes, the dependency of the fate of the state on the ruling class as well as the superiority of the interests of the ruling class over the subservient and inferior classes. Furthermore, the uncompromising rules for breeding and educating this class combined with the strict supervision and collectivisation of the interests of its members create a close enough representation of the totalitarianism depicted in the definition. Firstly, in addressing the issue, which Plato begins with in The Republic of what justice is Plato, asserts that justice is that which is in the interest of...
Was Plato a totalitarian?
Totalitarianism consists of a combination of two features: authoritarianism and
ideology. By authoritarianism, it means a system in which ordinary citizens have
no share, directly or indirectly, in making political decisions1. The latter feature
implies a ubiquitous scheme of values propagated by some person or persons
and fostered by institutional means in order to direct all aspects of private and
public life2 that are significant to politics. With this definition in mind, this essay
will put forward an argument in favour of the notion that Plato was a totalitarian,
evident in his conception of the kallipolis which drives forward a totalitarian and
utopian dream for a ‘natural class rule of the wise few over the ignorant many’3.
On the contrary, a literary reading of Plato’s Republic could dismiss such ideas as
independent of Plato’s voice in the first place. Furthermore, it has been put
forward that Plato’s idealistic state is based on virtue and the happiness of the
people, unlike totalitarian states. This essay will discuss and evaluate the extent
to which Plato can be considered a totalitarian judging from his ideas on the ideal
city-state in The Republic.
Plato was a totalitarian judging from The Republic. With the definition of
totalitarianism in mind, Plato illustrates features of authoritarianism and
ideology in his political worldview, which entails a strict division of classes, the
dependency of the fate of the state on the ruling class as well as the superiority of
the interests of the ruling class over the subservient and inferior classes.
Furthermore, the uncompromising rules for breeding and educating this class
combined with the strict supervision and collectivisation of the interests of its
members create a close enough representation of the totalitarianism depicted in
1 C.C.W Taylor, Plato’s totalitarianism, p.31
2 ibid, p.31
3 Karl Popper, The Open society and its enemies: Plato I, Chapter 6
Amina Salmoun
GV100