Plato and Race

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Plato and Race

Postby Prince.of.wallachia » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:04 pm

Personel quote and not rhetorical. Only information for satanist brothers.


Plato Republic (Robin Waterfield Trans.)
New York: Oxford University Press, 1994

a review by Guillaume Durocher

EGALITARIANS HAVE argued that notions of nation and race are largely modern constructs. Marxists in particular have typically claimed that Western ruling classes invented these ideas to consolidate the power of bourgeois states or as a mere pretext to divide the working class along (supposedly imaginary) racial lines and to oppress their colonial subjects.

It is then important to look at the actual record of discussion of tribe, nation, and race in our European tradition. In fact, hereditarian and ethnocentric themes have been present in Western thought from the beginning. An example of this would be Herodotus, the very first historian, who 2,500 years ago already defined being part of the Greek nation through four criteria: common religion, common blood, common language, and common custom.

In this article, I will give an account of racial and ethnic thought in Plato’s monumental philosophical treatise, The Republic, which is widely recognized as the founding text of the entire tradition of Western thought. I will demonstrate the following points:

Inequality: the idea that men are created unequal is absolutely pervasive throughout The Republic and is foundational to its ethics. Plato asserts that individuals have inborn differences in physique, personality, and intelligence, in addition to differences due to upbringing.
Heredity and eugenics: Plato notes that human differences are significantly heritable and so often refers to eugenic solutions to improve both society and elites, with explicit comparisons to animal breeding.
Patriotism: Plato argues that patriotism is a good and compares it with love for one’s family.
Greek racial/ethnic identity: Plato argues that “ties of blood and kinship” meant Greeks should not wage war on one another or enslave each other, reserving this for non-Greeks, and that their common identity should be cultivated through joint religious practices.
Plato’s Republic presents a powerful vision of an aristocratic racially-conscious state.[1] The ruling elite, known as the “guardians,” and to a lesser extent the wider citizenry would steadily improve themselves both culturally through education and biologically through eugenics. The elite would reach for the truth through constant reflection and dialectic, while both elite and masses would be conditioned through (civil-)religious education, being taught to consider the pursuit of these cultural and biological goods as a sacred moral imperative.[2]

Plato takes inborn human inequality as self-evident. He writes:

When you distinguish people as naturally competent or incompetent in a particular context, don’t you mean that some people find it easy to learn that subject, while others find it hard? And that some people start to do their own broadly speaking original work in the subject after only a little study, while others can’t even retain what they’ve learned after even a lot of study and care? And that some people’s bodies are sufficiently subservient to their minds, while others’ are obstructive? Aren’t these the features — there are more too — which enable you to define some people as naturally competent, and others as naturally incompetent? (455b-c)

Plato refers to “stupid adults” (598c), to “slow-witted people” (526b), to “inferior members of the human race” (495c), and to “inferior kinds of people” (545a). He notes that children are born without reason and that “I’m not convinced some of them ever acquire reason” (441a-b). Moral and intellectual inferiority was partly inborn and partly due to miseducation. Plato however asserts that even good education cannot undo congenital imperfection: “Education is not capable of doing what some people promise. They claim to introduce knowledge into a mind which doesn’t have it, as if they were introducing sight into eyes which are blind” (518c).

Plato also recognized inborn physical and mental differences between men and women, considering women to be “the weaker sex in all respects” concerning warfare and statecraft (455e). (Nonetheless, Plato argues that women should have equal opportunity to be guardians or have any other role in the community, so long as they have the ability. This meritocratic “feminism” was quite radical given that women were largely segregated and excluded from politics in ancient Greek society.)

The recognition of human inequality for Plato was by no means intended to humiliate or harm the less gifted. Rather, the point was to organize society in recognition of these differences, as “different people are inherently suitable for different activities” (370a). Callipolis, his ideal city-state, is a meritocratic regime entirely oriented towards a kind of cognitive and moral sorting of the people, with the best (defined as the most intelligent, courageous, and moral) being selected to form part of the ruling elite of guardians. Failure to recognize inequality and, in particular, the excellence of the moral elite means the latter “end up living a life which is inappropriate for them and which isn’t true to their natures” (495c).

Recognition of the reality of inequality is then not only pervasive throughout The Republic but is central to the entire moral argument. Put simply: both a human soul and a society are made up of different, conflicting parts, some better than others; morality is when the better overcome the worse. Plato considered that this was achieved when a person or society was governed by reason, in alliance with nobler emotions, the latter subordinating mere pleasure and pain.[3]

Given all this, it is no wonder that Plato is contemptuous towards egalitarians. These are undiscerning and undiscriminating people who have bad taste, poor judgment, and low or no standards. Because egalitarian individuals (and the equivalent political regime, democracy) are unable to distinguish good from evil, Plato considers them among the most immoral, only one rank above a psychopath or a tyrant.[4]

Plato recognizes that human inequality is not only inborn, but is substantially hereditary. This point is made on several occasions, sometimes quite strikingly. For example, if “a small, bald metalworker” happened to accidentally get rich and married “his master’s daughter,” their offspring would only be “second-rate half-breeds” (496a). Plato argues that philosophy “should be practiced by men of true pedigree, not by bastards” (535c). He also links physical beauty and mental goodness, arguing that his ruling class of philosopher-kings should be “within reason, people who are very good-looking” (535b). (This is perhaps a surprising statement given that Plato’s mentor Socrates, who makes the point in the dialogue, was considered quite ugly.)

Given the reality of inborn hereditary human inequality, Plato considers the decision as to who should reproduce to be a matter of public interest.[5] There is a public interest in the composition of the gene pool. As such, Plato makes a muscular argument for eugenics, both positive and negative. He makes an explicit analogy with animal breeding:

I’ve seen lots of hunting dogs and fine birds in your house [. . .] Isn’t it true that although they’re all pedigree creatures, some of them prove to be exceptionally good? [. . .] So do you breed from all of them indiscriminately, or do you take care to choose the outstanding ones as much as possible? [. . .] And wouldn’t you expect the result of failure to follow this breeding program to be the deterioration of your strain of birds and dogs? [. . .] We’re going to need really exceptional rulers if the same principle applies to humans too. (459a-b)
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