Forget Orwell and Rand, We’ve Gone to Full On Plato

Lately, we hear a lot about Orwell’s “1984” and Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” but perhaps the best crystal ball to our current state of affairs is Plato’s Republic.  You see both Rand and Orwell were describing a world outside of themselves.  A world they couldn’t understand or accept.  And while those works are brilliant and incredibly prophetic, I expect that to understand a world borne of narcissistic sociopathy one must examine the construct of such a world by a narcissistic sociopath.  Fortunately Plato, perhaps the world’s most (in)famous narcissistic sociopath, provided us a vivid illustration and explanation of his ideal state in “Plato’s Republic”.  Plato provides us the why to Orwell’s and Rand’s ‘unideal’ states.

Plato provides the arguments for the philosopher kings.  He also describes various levels of reality, arguing that each societal demographic must live within the reality level delegated to them.  He argues each demographic has a limited intellectual capacity and thus can only handle the reality level provided to them.   With the philosopher kings being the only societal demographic with the right to and capacity for absolute truth.  Likewise, the philosophers kings in the world we find ourselves today control each and every aspect of life including our subsequent perception of the world.  There is no such thing as happenstance.  The market moves a certain direction not because of unexplained market forces but because the philosopher kings have made it so.  Economic policies are creating incredible wealth for the already wealthy while destroying the middle class not because of honest misjudgements or the need for more time but because the philosopher kings make it so.  The Fed dropped the U3 unemployment rate as a benchmark because it does not meet their standard of truth but expects the rest of us to consider that true unemployment.  Declining GDP is ignored while adjusted indicators signalling GDP is healthy are paraded all over the street because the philosopher kings make it so.  A Malaysian airliner is shot out of the sky not by things yet unknown but because the philosopher kings make it so.

As in Plato’s Ideal State, today’s philosopher kings are the only ones with the right to and capacity for (as decided by them) absolute truth.  The rest of us live within the realities provided for and to us.  We are handed the explanations and when the explanations don’t suffice the subject matter disappear altogether; refer to Ukraine, Ebola, Malaysian airliner, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, IRS criminality, NSA, Breitbart and the Constitution, etc.  We the people take what we are fed in stride and in line with our respective places in the hierarchy of truth.  If we dare challenge the hierarchy of truth, as men like Snowden have attempted, we are exiled with a bounty on our head.  Or for minor offences such as providing the truth behind declining same store sales your career is taken from you like Bill Simon, ex Walmart CEO who was fired for stating that Americans are buying less because they have less income than before.  The philosopher kings make it so.

The facts are we will never know the facts.  We will know but a shadow of truth as ascribed to us by the philosopher kings as described by Plato’s Cave Parable.  This is how a handful of men and women control billions of people, the same way 20 cowboys control 30K head of cattle.  We are provided food, shelter, safety and fear and in return we are provided a certain reality from which we must live.  So long as we remain within our respective realities we will be granted comfort.  However, if we attempt to break through a level of truth or worse bring others with us, the heavy hand of the philosopher king will find us by way of the guardian class.   In our world we become a threat to national security and once we adorn that scarlet letter all rights that were once guaranteed by the Constitution disappear.  The Constitution states no person or law supercedes it, however, by way of executive order the chief philosopher king has granted the philosopher kings a level of authority that supercedes that of the Constitution.  And as comfortable cattle do, we paid no attention but strode forward with the herd.

So for those inclined to not only reflect on the prophetic worlds of Orwell and Rand but to understand the arguments for such a world by the philosopher kings themselves, refresh yourself with a read of Plato’s Republic.  For wars are won not by force of might but by force of knowledge.  Plato was correct in understanding that freedom is found in knowledge.  If we accept a shadow of truth we will enjoy a shadow of freedom.  But if we fight for absolute truth we will win absolute freedom.

10 thoughts on “Forget Orwell and Rand, We’ve Gone to Full On Plato

  1. I apologize for my direct question, but, who taught you to read Plato? Aside from being a book about JUSTICE (which you seem to deny Plato), the “Republic” is about individuals living the best life they can. Did you skip over the multiple references in the text (see Book 2 and Book 5) where Plato/Socrates invited you to realize that he was simply being ironic about the existence of this perfectly just city, Philosopher-Kings and all? If the perfectly just city and Philosopher-Kings sounds impossible and outrageous that’s because Plato himself acknowledges that these proposals are impossible and outrageous; nor should should it or they (Philosopher-Kings) ever exist…we see what happens when people attempt this type of social and economic perfection and it never ends well.

    The interpretation you offer of Plato’s “Republic” is perverse and we’ve heard it all before in Karl Popper’s “Open Society and It’s Enemies.” As a Professor of Philosophy who teaches Plato to undergraduates every semester I can share with you that Plato’s true teaching is one of self-knowledge, through the application of virtues that include moderation, courage, and wisdom. These virtues are available to all of us, and although we may not all be able to be rulers over others (thank God), Plato counsels this in no way precludes ALL of us from being good rulers over ourselves. Simply stated, Plato just wants you to be the best person you can be and wants us all to discover truth for itself and the freedom that accompanies it; even though this can be downright difficult, Plato argues we ALL have the opportunity and prospective freedom to leave the cave and find the truth, but so few of us really ever take that chance…clearly Plato is as right as rain about that!

    I hope you might consider giving Plato another hearing in the future; I think there is a lot more going on in the text than perhaps you may have realized. In fact, you and Plato may end up agreeing on more than you might think. I hope you can find it in you to take another look at a text that is read by many, but truly understood by few.

  2. A brilliant reading against the grain of the usual philosophical sycophants. This is why I compare Plato with the fairy tales of Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. The true magic that accomplishes the right thing is a permanent and total revolution in the soul and a letting go of the point of control altogether. Wishful thinking, sure, but the best wishes are the hardest gains.

  3. It’s true that Plato was involved in a tyrannical government in Sicily, that ultimately toppled, and that he sought for society to be run by the “best”. However, what you’re describing is a vast mis-reading of Plato, to be charitable.

    Plato was reacting against the suicidal democracy that he witnessed self-immolating the Athenian city-state, and, as a partial consequence, putting to death Socrates, the epitome of an innocent man. The anti-democratic tendencies in Plato likely come from this experience. He lived through a dystopia that was the result of the unrestricted Athenian democracy.

    Furthermore, Plato’s writing are frequently self-contradictory, and full of ideas he certainly didn’t believe. There is a reason for that, and I’d recommend Sayre’s “Plato’s Literary Garden” if you’re interested in learning more. It is a stretch to pin any particular claims made in a dialogue to Plato himself. There are knowing self-contradictions all over his corpus.

    Finally, the Allegory of the Cave is a description of a process of philosophic enlightenment, not a description of the upbringing of tyrants.

  4. The author (rightly) condemns the state of affairs in the corporate captured America… then demonizes a decision by authority to actually do something for a huge swath of the unwashed masses against the wishes of the do nothing, corporate owned congress.

    Big brother is smiling…

  5. Plato’s Republic is correct but you are pinpointing the wrong level of state of governance. Plato’s top rated governance is run by philosopher kings but unlike glitzy royalty Platos collective of kings live in poverty and derived satisfaction from expressing their natural talent of directing societal affairs with an apparent perfect harmony. More appropriately, you should have pointed out Plato’s 4th state of governance, Plutocracy, rule by the oligarch.

  6. I think you misunderstand Plato’s intention in writing the Republic. Having said that, it seems to me he understood well the tendencies in all humans that eventually lead to the tyranny you say he promoted.

  7. It seems to be the nature of things. Youth and innocence and then adulthood where things are learned to allow those in power to sidestep innocence. The age of awareness of the general populace, when youth’s vigor is gone and frustration is unfathomable, is where the concerned US citizen is now. (Revolutions or voting out the incumbents) are ways to generate a RESET. They are hard to accomplish, but the sooner the better and the easier it is to recover from their effects

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