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How Plato’s “The Republic” Describes Today’s Society

WIKI - PlatoJulian Websdale, Contributor
Waking Times

The Republic (Greek: Πολιτεία, Politeia) is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC, concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man. It is Plato’s best-known work and has proven to be one of the most intellectually and historically influential works of philosophy and political theory. In it, Socrates along with various Athenians and foreigners discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man by considering a series of different cities coming into existence “in speech”, culminating in a city (Kallipolis) ruled by philosopher-kings; and by examining the nature of existing regimes. The participants also discuss the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, and the roles of the philosopher and of poetry in society.

In The Republic Plato describes four types of government – monarchy, oligarchy, tyranny, and democracy. The Allegory of the Cave is a discussion on human mentality and the body politic, our thinking and being. There are four types of people in the cave, though nowhere in the text are the characters overtly counted. In the cave there are the captors and captives. The captives in the cave are controlled and know nothing in life but the cave, worse they only know one wall of the cave. The captors use a fire to cast shadows on the wall the prisoners face to keep them captivated and distracted by a made up reality. Among the captives there are the chained and the unchained. The chained are held in place so that they can only look straight ahead and are convinced of the reality and moreover importance of the shadows. The unchained are transfixed with the images and convinced of the reality and moreover the importance of the shadows to the point they don’t need chains. They are held by shadows, like elephants onto a string. Both the chained and unchained captives have no interest in their actual existence as captives in a cave. They are not conscious, they are not aware of self or their surroundings, or the captors, they are only aware of and concerned with the shadows.


The captors hold the captives with shadows, as distractions. There are the chained captives, the unchained captives and the captors who hold them. The fourth character in the allegory, the fourth distinct part of the set, is the freed prisoner. The freed prisoner, after being in the cave his whole life, finds himself aboveground and is at first pained by sunlight and then begins to see. First he sees only shadows as that is what he is accustomed to, then reflections, then the objects casting shadows and then finally the total of his surroundings, himself, others and the stars and the sun. The freed prisoner learns about sunlight and the dependence of all things on it.  He learns about the basic tenets of reality and that the sun is the true light, not the captors’ fire. The freed prisoner learns about simple conditions of reality and the things which the captors’ shadows represented. He becomes conscious and understands his place in the world. He realizes he was deceived his whole life and that everyone he had ever known from the cave is imprisoned and deceived as well.  And he has to return.

After deliberation the freed prisoner returns and attempts to inform the captives of their predicament and, by that, free them. The chained and unchained captives scorn the freed prisoner for not being able to see in the dark cave, his eyes having adjusted to daylight. Eventually they want to eliminate the freed prisoner for revealing their predicament to them, for upsetting the status quo, even though they are held captive by it. The controlling captors of course seek to eliminate him or anyone who questions and exposes the cave system for what it is. The three characters being compelled to remove the fourth distinct type, the freed prisoner, the one who seeks to free the captives and show them true light as opposed to control in the cave, is reflective of how controlling institutions operate.

The political and actual representations are easy enough to quantify and the power of the freed prisoner or righteous rebel is recognizable throughout the world. One of the most important layers to the Allegory of the Cave is that of the personal layer of the cave within – the caves people make around themselves. The shadows are false evidence appearing real – fear. The outside world of fires and shadows often uses fear to steer, but inside fear is used the same. A majority of people replay shadows to themselves to keep the status quo inside so they don’t have to face the reality of inside and outside. They have their own personal caves where false evidence appearing real controls them. The freed prisoner, the righteous rebel, is powerful in the world and can lead us out of our own personal caves toward enlightenment.

The shadows are very much symbolic of the consensus reality, constantly being programmed and reinforced by the mainstream media, which most people believe to be real. When we follow our intuition, we often find ourselves behaving in ways that the conditioned, imprisoned minds of people around us find impossible to understand. They have to ‘rationalise’ your words and behavior by saying you are ‘mad’, ‘dangerous’ or ‘delusional’, and may behave in a patronising manner towards you. In fact, you are merely different, viewing reality from another point of observation. Do what your heart intuitively tells you, for it is Consciousness speaking – the Silent Voice. Follow that and the adventure begins.

Sources:

Smith, E. I. (2011). The Matrix of Four, The Philosophy of the Duality of Polarity. [e-book] The Enstitute, Sean.
Icke, D. (2010). Human Race Get Off Your Knees – The Lion Sleeps No More. Ryde: David Icke Books.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Republic_(Plato) [September 2013]

About the Author

Julian Websdale is an independent researcher in the fields of esoteric science and metaphysics, and a self-initiate of the Western Esoteric Tradition. His interest in these subjects began in 1988. Julian was born in England, received his education as an electronic and computer engineer from the University of Bolton, served in a Vaishnava monastery during 2010, and has travelled to over 21 countries. Julian is also a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Julian-Websdale/413610718715260
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulianWebsdale
Blog: http://julianwebsdale.tumblr.com/

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  • Excellent article. It is Plato’s Republic, not just as a co-incidence (ie, that this is just how Oligarchies tend to pan-out) but as a conscious and deliberate strategy amongst some sections of the ‘elite’. I am very glad this is making its way into internet discourse and strengthening as a meme.

    We have all seen the evidence that paedophilia is endemic within the ‘elite’ classes, but it is actually written-in to Plato’s Republic, and seems to be taken as a strategic model, and by some as a religiously-followed blue-print for our control, exploitation, and, of course, their fun and profit.

    This quote from the great Joseph Campbell’s seminal work on mythology, belief and culture, “The Masks of God (New York: Viking Penguin Inc. 1964)”, Volume III “Occidental Mythology”, chapter 5 “The Persian Period; v.-the gods of love” —

    “Professor Warner Fite of Princeton years ago pricked the bubble of the late Victorian version of Plato’s ideal of love by pointing out to a generation ignorant of Greek that Professor Jowett’s translation (which was the one they were all reading in school) renders [Plato’s] orthos paiderastein, ‘the right kind of pederasty’, as ‘true-love’. So that all then knew—as most had already guessed—that boy-love, pederasty or sodomy, which in most of the published moral codes of the world counts as a heinous offence against Nature, was for Plato’s model company the one true way to spirituality and the sublimation of mere nature into fine discourse, poetry, science excellence, and the perfect city state.”

    and referenced; Warner Fite, The Platonic Legend (New York and London: Scribners and Sons, 1934), p153.

    I believe that once all that is being done to us, our children and future, all life on earth, and the earth itself, is clearly, concisely and lucidly articulated amongst ‘us’, then ‘they’ are finished. ‘They’ know this.

  • Leon Thomas

    Great Article. The essence of the Allegory of the Cave is dispicted in the movies, The Matrix, The Truman Show and Dark City. All three movies came out the same year. The methods of escape is also dispicted in the movies.

  • We have been in the protection of our elders from space throughout our history. How can it be that with repeated attacks upon us, by the bankers with nuclear blast weapons, we’ve failed to wake up yet? Our good neighbors the Martians stepped in and pulled the blasts shots off of us, yet how is it that the Martians have failed to save us?

    Death squads, funded on American paper and backed by American labor, roam the world killing with advanced drone technology.

    A perfected genocide with nuclear waste from 435 old nuclear reactors, with only one Hitachi-GE threatening to poison on out the surface of our planet.

    Must the shadows on the wall of the cave continue to hold us in?

    Judah continues to issue our paper called money, and burns our world down around us for free. Must labor not hear of the love of God almighty and STOP THE WAR?

    Must we not stop tossing our life forms out so disgracefully?

    Must labor not act and STRIKE THEM OUT?

    Will you not get hold of our paper labor and shut this mess down?

  • dimitri ledkovsky

    Great! Thanks for the reminder. When laying out the Allegory of the Cave to others I so often find them drifting into the Great Zone of Cognitive Dissonance.

    Hold your face to the sun and you will not see the shadows!

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