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Plato, Confidence Man
Human beings have inhabited the planet for thousands upon thousands of years. Throughout the course of time, they have undergone many changes, both physically and mentally, starting from the simplest, unknowledgeable Neanderthal caveman evolving to the modern human today. Society changed as well developing from savages in their homogeneous form to the vast multi-cultured world that exists nowadays. Despite the fact that these changes have occurred and many generations have passed, one “person” survived this progression – the confidence man. The con man is the sole survivor of the evolution of humans and the vast changes in culture enduring many civilizations and societies. One should have little trouble in identifying the con man for the con man is male, considers himself all-knowing, cites the troubles of the general public, cites things which are moral and just (notions all individuals sympathize with) and proclaims ideas that will fix these troubles when in actuality they will better himself. Never does the con man reveal himself so blatantly as Plato does in Republic criticizing democracy.
The hypocrisy and the conning begins when Plato asks others to trade in these “immoral” values when he himself posses them. As a philosopher and the son in an aristocratic family, Plato possesses money and while he may not reap the physical pleasures such as “excessive sexual appetites and unnecessary pleasures” as he describes in Republic, he receives it nonetheless from admiration by others for his “wisdom” and “knowledge.” In essence, Plato asks others to give up everything individuals have or strive for, for the welfare of society leaving them with nothing “pleasurable” but mentions nothing of his own personal sacrifices. It is as if everyone else sacrifices happiness but the con man.
Plato attempts to
con everyone into believing democracy is bad for his own good. He appeals
to individuals’ sanctimonious side for support for his government, i.e. dictatorship.
By convincing people into thinking a democracy leads to tyranny, he is trading
a fear of tyranny for a philosophical tyrannical organization. While his
government seems more compassionate as it proposes working for the common
good, in hindsight it works for the common good of the philosopher. There
is little difference between Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Plato’s Republic in
that both attempt to convince the public in that democracy is wrong and that
their idea and style of government is superior and in the best interest of
the common people. Both argue that their governments will lead to a utopia
in which people stand side by side working for each other and in a unified
interest as a whole. Hitler believed his group of people (the Aryan race)
would be the best leaders of the land just as Plato believed his philosophers
would. Unfortunately, the world got to see Hitler’s utopia. Fortunately,
we did not get to see the confidence man’s.