Plato, the Greek philosopher, has been thoroughly examined by the dissident wing (I’ve decided to refer to us, whoever we are, as the “dissident wing”) of the USA. His ideas have been discussed and written about plenty here at AP and to a lesser extent, I believe the input of his mentor, Socrates, and his notable student, Aristotle, have also been mentioned. I think it’s appropriate that Plato has received the closest attention. With that said, I’ve thought a lot about his ideas and written little about them. I don’t promise to give insight that is any deeper than anyone else here is able to. In fact, in the name of Socratic irony, I promise not to.

Plato’s “five regimes” discussed in his eighth book of Republic are a fairly simplistic representation of the progression of human attempts at governance, which is good. Too many people make attempts at complicating their own interpretation of the progression of government systems because complexity is seen as a sign of intelligence. However, the ability to explain a complicated model in simple terms is actually a sign of high understanding. Knowing that simplifying a subject is necessary is a sign of wisdom.

The five regimes are written out in a progression from the first, called aristocracy, to what Plato lists last, which is tyranny. These progress from most desirable to least. Aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, tyranny is the order from top to bottom, first to last, most desirable to least. My personal addition, if I may make one, is anarchy. My version of anarchy as it relates to Plato’s regimes doesn’t totally line up with the modern day definition of anarchy. Perhaps just partially. Essentially I feel it is an absence of any discernible, effective system of governance.

Plato’s first regime is that of aristocracy. In our time, we may view this word with a negative connotation, but Plato viewed this system as one ruled by philosopher king(s) with “souls made of gold”. Contrary to our definition, these rulers would be in charge, but aside from basic human needs, they would own very little and live modestly. In the days of Greek rules, they may not even be permitted to own land at all. An aristocratic system would contain a caste system. I don’t believe there is a system in the world today that resembles Plato’s aristocracy.

The timocracy follows when people of slightly lesser virtue (described as people with souls made of silver or bronze) make their way into the ruling class by way of miscalculation by those who managed the aristocracy. Plato’s described the timocracy as a mixture of good and bad qualities. Some of the people who rise to the ruling class are concerned not only with ruling virtuously, but also with procuring wealth for themselves. The government system will change it’s own rules in order to make it easier for the ruling class to cement their positions, consolidate power and build their own wealth.

The oligarchy follows the timocracy, and now you see where we are headed. Riches and wealth are now the most important goals of the rulers and the citizens. rather than electing people who are wise and virtuous, and who’s ambitions do not include power and money, the accumulation of money is the virtue that gets one elected. The ruling class has money, the lower classes want money, and there is little else to be considered. The military is prone to strategic and tactical failure due to the fact that those who are best fit to positions in the military are being pushed into the ruling class where they don’t belong, or to the lower class where their talents are wasted, and the vacancies in the military are filled by those who seek to use that position to advance their own interests.

Democracy is next, which is possibly where we see ourselves at this point in time. People are concerned with freedom and Liberty, but only with their own definition of what those words mean. Many don’t even attempt to define what it means. The majority of the citizens are preoccupied with pointless activities and unnecessary goals. Democracy is managed by a large number of individuals, both elected and unelected, who are driven by personal gain. Democracy causes people of poor intellect and poor morals to gain positions of power. The people are primarily obsessed with materialism, and the government system is geared to enhance this by promoting “equality”, which is just a word the rulers will use to promise more material wealth, usually at the expense of a subgroup of citizens that has resisted the ruling class. Despite the fact that we are all taught that democracy is the highest and most virtuous form of government to be sought, this is false. Democracy is mob rule. The mob is neither intelligent nor virtuous. My position is that at least 90% of the electorate is unfit to choose a ruler for a nation of any size.

The last phase of Plato’s regimes is the tyranny phase, which most of us dissidents have been predicting for several decades now. Somehow our “democracy” drags along. In tyranny, the people have become tired of the democratic processes. Chaos rules and people are allowed, even encouraged, to violate rules and laws. Eventually, a person or group is able to seize power and transition the system into a harsh tyranny. Very rarely is a tyrant overthrown completely. Usually the overthrow results in a brief moment of anarchy, followed by yet another version of tyranny, nearly identical to the one before, if only more capable in the skills of tyrants. I feel the US is in a transition period between democracy and tyranny. Neither form of government is desirable.

My addition to Plato’s continuum is a sixth phase, which is anarchy. I won’t posit that anarchy always occurs or that it occurs in a specific place in Plato’s order. I won’t even claim that Plato’s phases always occur in a specific order, though we can observe it happening frequently. In this article, I view anarchy as the absence of one of the five regimes, where there is no regime. It would be hard to predict when or if this will happen, but when it does, it will not be difficult to identify, if there is even anyone attempting to intellectually identify it at all. When there is not, that would be a sign.

Plato’s philosophies are not without fault, of course, and I’m sure those faults will be (and should be) discussed by dissidents. But I do subscribe to the idea of these regimes being an identifiable course of human governance, and I do subscribe to the placement of democracy as the penultimate undesirable regime, as I no longer can point to any positive long term results of allowing a selfish, immoral, materialistic mob to vote favors for themselves and punishments for those they view as dissenters.