Plato and the Republic: A Political Science Essay

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The Republic and Plato
by James Rich of Qabick Cents Productions
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Identify the key points of Plato’s classic text The Republic. Explain the impacts of this text on modern political science. Why did Plato believe democracies were inferior political systems?
 
Explain:
1. Define power
2. Identify and describe components of the nation-state
3. Distinguish study between man and society
4. Understand political socialization
5. Distinguish between authoritarian, totalitarian, Marxist, national socialist, fascist, and democratic forms
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Focusing on the key points of Plato’s classic text The Republic, I will explain these elements and how they revolve around this book, and this man. I am a rather huge fan of Plato, and have read The Republic many times before this class. I am likely always going to be excited to write about him.
 
According to Dooley, K., & Patten, J. (n.d.). Why Politics Matter: An Introduction to Political Science (2nd ed.). Plato’s “highest form of happiness is attained when we nurture the human soul by pursuing justice rather than self-interest” and “a just person perceived to be unjust is happier than an unjust person perceived to be just.” I like this philosophy and agree with it. I try to live a life of service to help others and seek after justice. “Plato believed the ideal republic and the human soul comprise three critical parts respectively:
 
1. craftspeople/appetites
2. auxiliaries/spirit
3. guardians/rational”
 
I love this perspective. The craftspeople being compared to the baser instincts guides by impulses. The is comparable to the book, Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. XIX. Translated from the German under the General Editorship of James Strachey. In collaboration with Anna Freud. Assisted by Alix Strachey and Alan Tyson, Vintage, 1999. [Reprint.] ISBN 0-09-929622-5 where Freud would coin the term of the id.
 
The auxiliaries or the military, would be the spirit. The passion, and courage to defend and fight for what you believe in. This is the emotional spiritual higher purpose type of living. Whereas guardians are the political leaders, which he proposes are led by knowledge and intellect. This model is true for the political state he lived in, but as he later explains in the book society will degrade into a lower form of civilization like how he feels about democracy. Within democracy this model is no longer true.
 
Plato describes an aristocracy, the government-run by the guardians, as the ideal philosophy, but that it is inevitable to decline. Plato created what he coined as forms. There is the world of appearances, which is the things we can see, and the intelligible world, which are things beyond our sensory perception. All things are in a perpetual state of transformation and change within the world of appearances. So this aristocracy will eventually decline into a timocracy in which the warriors, or the auxiliaries are the ruling class. Then it will decline again into an oligarchy, which is a government-run by a small group of people who control the masses. This is essentially the government we have now. We aren’t fully a democracy we are technically a republic, as our constitution never mentions democracy, but republic instead. We have corporations and special interest groups that have taken control and much like the id, or the business people otherwise known as the craftspeople, they run things based off of pure selfish interests by focusing on the bottom line.
 
Plato was not a fan of democracy because he felt it was the penultimate step before a country is run by a tyrant or despot. Most people are not educated enough, particularly on political subjects to even know what they are voting for. We have so many people upset in this country, and many want to abolish the electoral college process for a more democratic one for one voting system. I am not exactly a huge fan of the electoral college but it certainly helps to protect us, to remain a republic over a democracy. Some would argue we have an almost triumvirate, triple run government but with three branches of government as opposed to three people. We have the Judicial, Executive, and Legislative. Some would argue this system helps to keep a form of checks and balances so that we remain a republic as opposed to the democracy we are seeming to devolve into.
 
Power is the control a government, organization, person, etc would hold over another. Soft power is when a country utilizes more humanitarian efforts to come to a resolution as opposed to hard power which is when a country is more forceful and uses military tactics. Political science is the study of power, and According to Dooley, K., & Patten, J. (n.d.). Why Politics Matter: An Introduction to Political Science (2nd ed.). Aristotle says man is a “political animal.” and “Political scientist Thomas M. Magstadt has defined political socialization as the process by which citizens develop the values, attitudes, beliefs, and opinions that enable them to support the political system.” There are the social contract theorists such John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. There are many approaches such as: traditionalism, behaviorism, postbehaviorism, etc.
 
There are multiple forms of government in modern politics that are successors to the work that Plato had laid out for them. Authoritarian, is where the authority remains in the state, where totalitarian is the ultimate control in the hands of the state. It is the extreme version of authoritarianism. Marxism comes mostly from Karl Marx including its namesake. It was designed to be a critique of capitalism and a system designed for the labor party. Fascist states are extremely authoritarian yet anticommunist. National socialists are also known as the Nazis for short. These are the people many confuse with fascists. They are similar in the authoritarian nature but were more totalitarian and socialist as opposed to fascist being anticommunist. Democracy is where each person has a vote and individual equal power to that of any other citizen.
 
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Dooley, K., & Patten, J. (n.d.). Why Politics Matter: An Introduction to Political Science (2nd ed.).
 
Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. XIX. Translated from the German under the General Editorship of James Strachey. In collaboration with Anna Freud. Assisted by Alix Strachey and Alan Tyson, Vintage, 1999. [Reprint.] ISBN 0-09-929622-5

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