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Friday, 23 March 2018

Plato's 5 regime types

The Greek philosopher Plato (428/427-348/347 BC) mentions 5 regime types in book 8 of his manuscript Republic. Plato states that the natural order of societies is as follows: (1) aristocracy, (2) timocracy, (3) oligarchy, (4) democracy, and (5) tyranny. Since a few years, articles claim that our societies are moving to the 5th and final Plato stage: tyranny (eg, BBC, PT, Vox).

I have plotted these 5 regime types against two of my concepts that I often use: (i) Wisdom-Knowledge-Power and (ii) Needs-Wants-Beliefs.

Plato's aristocracy is ruled by a philosopher king. Its government is based on Needs and Wisdom. All other types of regimes were deemed inferior by Plato.

When an aristocracy is inherited by family members then deterioration of government commences.

In a timocracy, Wisdom is slowly being replaced by the eternal struggle between Knowledge and Power.

In an oligarchy, wealth is accumulated by a few people who are close to the government. This Wants stage is typically characterized by consumerism (assets) and greed (money). The mismatch in Power between the (poor) majority and the (rich) minority may easily end when the majority starts to believe in freedom and democracy commences.

The strongmen of today make me wonder about the genuinity of their democratic flaws. In other words: is chaos an action or a consequence? Example: was the 2016 Turkish coup attempt (i) a government action to create chaos in order to change the rules, or (2) a consequence of existing chaos culminating in new rules. Chaos and Change are often two of a kind.

It's tempting to view the strongmen of today as (potential) new tyrannies. Somehow, I doubt that people who actually endured a tyranny, would consider the countries ruled by today's strongmen as the new tyrannies. Apart from perhaps one, they still have a long way towards a tyranny.

“In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People." A quote from a 1918 anti-war speech by Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926), American union leader.

Democracy (1992) by Leonard Cohen


Note: all bold and italic markings by LO unless stated otherwise