The republic vIII is very insightful as far as political power and political organizations are concerned. In the book Plato delves deeply into the various forms of political power and political organization and how one form of political organization can morph into a completely different form of political organization which just so happens to have contrasting ideals and principle. A good example is that of a pure democracy morphing into a complete tyranny. The amazing aspect or rather fact about the republic VII is that the ideas presented in the book are completely in line with the political ongoing all over the world even today. The systems of power described by Plato are taking shape just as Plato described them and changing from one system to another just like Plato explained that they would. The following essay is an analysis of the republic VII. The essay takes an in depth look at the political systems described by Plato in the book. The essay also compares the political systems described in the book with the political systems currently in place and in the process gauges the accuracy of the political systems brought out by Plato and Socrates.
A good example of a political system that is brought out by Plato in the republic VII is an oligarchy.an oligarchy is a political system whose main driving force is power. The bottom line as far as Plato is concerned in relation to political systems is that the very thing that defines a political system will be the very undoing of the system in question. This means that the driving ideal of the political system will be the very thing that leads to the decline and eventual crumble of the political system. This is a very interesting analogy as Plato claims that the very virtues that saw the installation of a political system will be the very virtues that lead to the decline of the political system.as stated an oligarchy is a political system motivated by wealth. The pursuit of riches are the main driving force as far as this political system is concerned. The people in this system are motivated by nothing more than the love of wealth and relentless pursuit of money (Deutsch, p.51). As such the constitution in such a regime is very likely to change into a constitution more inclined towards wealth. This means that the richest members of the society will take up political power while the poor members of society will have absolutely no say as far as the political system is concerned. This type of political system is very popular n today’s world especially in the third world countries and especially in Africa. In these countries the rich people rule while the poor people serve (Blackburn, p.33).
An oligarchy is a very interesting form of political regime to say the least. This system however presents a number of flaws that will ultimately lead to its undoing. The first major flaw as far as an oligarchy is concerned is the qualifications of the powers that be in terms of their capacity to rule the people. This means that the people in power have absolutely no qualifications to hold the offices that they do. These people rose to political prominence as a result of their wealth and entrepreneurial prowess (Deutsch, p.72). These people are by no means qualified to lead the masses and as such are very likely to make decisions that are not at all appealing to the general public. The second major problem with such a system which is perhaps the biggest problem with the system is the modes by which the people identify themselves. This is not a system of one people but a system of two people. We have the rich and the poor and these two groups are ever in conflict with each other with each group by all means looking for ways to safeguard its own interests. This aspect is present in almost every political system in the world. Even in the united states the main aspect that defines the people is their level of wealth where we have the rich who constitute about five percent of the population of the united states and we have the poor who constitute about ninety five percent of the population of the unites states. With such a situation in place the people are never truly united. Wealth and poverty will always lead to increasing hostilities among the people. The third problem in such a system is that the rulers will seek to disarm the people. There is a raging debate going on in the United States about the public being disarmed. This is very similar to the situation in the republic VIII. The ruling class will seek to disarm the public due to fear of a revolution. This is primarily because the majority of the public is poor. If this poor majority is armed the balance of power might just switch from the rich to the poor. Hence every system of government will seek to disarm the general public under the guise of trying to protect the public from itself. A good example of this public disarmament is the gun control bills currently in the United States that seek to take the guns from the citizens (Blackburn, p.56).
It thus follows that an oligarchy is a system where evil is the order of the day. A lot of evil takes place in such a regime especially due to the presence of the extremely poor and even beggars. The only outcome for such a system is revolution (Deutsch, p.81). The majority of then poor will revolt against the minority rich ruling class. A classic example of such a situation in recent times is the Arab spring. The Arab spring was a wave of antigovernment protests that swept across the Arab world and saw a large number of regimes being toppled by the poor majority. A good example is Libya. The country more or less turned on muamar gadaffi who was the president and rumored to be the richest man in Africa. The coup was bloody and lasted many months with only the intervention of the United States through the NATO that gave the Libyan citizens a fighting chance. With foreign aid the Libyan rebels toppled the gadaffii regime and took up power for themselves. This brings us to another form of regime brought out in the republic VIII. This system of government is a democracy. According to Socrates freedom is the main element that fuels a democratic system. In such a system people seek freedom and liberty from their oppressors. This is a system where liberty is a virtue that is upheld as perhaps the most precious virtue of all. The people uphold liberty and every citizen considers themselves free and as such tend to exercise their freedom and liberty through actions such as freedom of speech and freedom of movement as well as freedom to own property at any part of the area under the jurisdiction of the political system (Blackburn, p.61).
A democratic system is however not as blissful as it would at first appear. As stated freedom is the main idea behind a democratic system but according to Plato this freedom will by all means be the very undoing of this democratic system. In a democracy a solitary leader stands out as thee proverbial savior of the people. This leader stands out because of qualities such as oratory prowess and the ability to connect with the masses especially on contentious issues affecting the masses. A democracy however changes form soon after its formation. This is because the people who take up power eventually accumulate wealth. These are the rebellion leaders who led the people to freedom and as such became leaders. A good example is Fidel Castro of Cuba. After leading the people to freedom he became the ruler and soon after wealth began consolidating around him.
A democratic man is driven purely by appetite and this appetite is more often than not an appetite for wealth and even more power. The people who take up power in a democracy eventually turn out to be the richest members of the democracy. The ugly head of the democracy thus begins to show itself. This is because in a democracy freedom is the utmost virtue. There are always citizens who will seek to exercise their freedom especially freedom of expression against the powers that be. This means as the dislike for the government grows criticism of the government will also grow. The people will be bold and will not fear and will be relentless in their criticism of the government. As stated a democratic man is driven primarily by appetite. The people in power thus have an appetite to protect their wealth and consolidate even more power than they already have (Blackburn, p.68). The rest of the citizens also have an appetite to bring power closer to them and thus be able to share in the national wealth that exists in the system. Thus a struggle ensues between the ruling class and the rest of the citizens. As a result the ruling class resorts to fear tactics. These are tactics aimed at intimidating the masses. Such tactics include murder of the most vocal members of the society who speak out the loudest against the government. The government in fear that the people will revolt and take up power for themselves silences the most vocal members of the citizenry. Therefore freedom becomes the undoing of the democratic system. A system once dominated by freedom becomes driven by fear tactics and intimidation. The ruling class suppresses any factions of the public that might be problematic as far as their rule is concerned. The democracy therefore morphs into a tyranny. A good example is the republic of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean president has weakened the opposition to a point where he is guaranteed victory in any election that might occur. The system is therefore a tyranny masked as a democracy.
Blackburn, Simon. Plato's Republic: a biography. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press :, 2007. Print.
Deutsch, Eliot. Introduction to world philosophies. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1997. Print.
Waterfield, Robin. Republic. Oxford [England: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.