The philosopher Plato is of Greek origin and lived between 428 and 347 BC. He is one of the thinkers whose ideas, thoughts and writings directly influenced Western philosophy. However, he was a ruthless critic of democratic institutions.
What should a successful society be like according to the philosopher Plato?
For Plato, at the top of power there must always be a leader. For a society to truly function, it must have hierarchical structures. Where everyone, from free men to slaves, has a role to play.
According to his writings, a functional State must be composed of three classes. The strong economy, which falls on the merchants; security, which corresponds to the army and soldiers, and political leadership, which a philosopher-king must assume.
This leader, the philosopher-king, is the one who has cultivated his mind so that he can “understand” ideas. It is because of that mental clarity that the best decisions can be made, which the masses cannot do.
According to Plato’s vision, philosopher kings are people who are not interested in power. They are honest and serious by nature. They cannot be corrupted in any way and that is the fundamental reason for offering them command.
However, in Athens, considered the cradle of democracy, his philosophy sparked some controversy. Although Plato was very concerned about what he called the uninformed mass. Particularly because, lacking philosophical education, the masses were vulnerable to being manipulated by some political demagogue.
For this reason, he believed that tyrants emerge from the masses, convincing ordinary citizens that he has all the answers and solutions. Although it is only to rise to power and become abusive.
The philosopher’s criticisms of the democratic system
Plato thought that the democratic system was incapable of safeguarding the interests of ordinary citizens. According to the interpretation of Miguel Solans Blasco, professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Navarra, Plato maintained that, to achieve a harmonious society, it was imperative to have two fundamental elements: firstly, quality education and, secondly, competent leaders in government management.
In turn, according to the philosopher, the social class to which a person belongs is determined by their level of education. Those who complete their full educational cycle are those who are located at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. For Plato it was very important to develop the moral sensitivity of citizens.
In this way, noble and high aspirations are encouraged that contribute to the development of a civic character. In numerous works, Plato highlights the importance of such high aspirations, which enable people to live harmoniously and seek collective well-being.
In his famous work “Republic” he measures the importance of having good rulers. He says “To be successful, a society must have good rulers, capable of deliberating, seeking the common good, finding integrative projects and overcoming the differences that appear in society.”