The Republic by Plato
The Republic (360 B.C): Greatest of Plato’s works. Influenced Western thought concerning the questions of justice, rule, obedience, the state and man. Of all of the Socratic dialogues that you can write term papers on, The Republic may be the greatest if for no other reason that the Allegory of the Cave. In this great passage, Plato creates the clearest understanding of his view of the universe. It is interesting that Plato wrote this dialogue to be the definitive statement on political organization, yet in the past twenty-five hundred years since its creation, not one society on earth has desired to place a Philosopher King in charge. In modern times, Americans tend to think that democracy is the greatest form of government. Indeed, the United States invaded Iraq and created a quagmire there in order to bring “American democracy” to the Middle East. Therefore, when Plato argues that dictatorship is the least corruptible form of government, then one must refute that notion.
A democracy, in the classic sense, is the rule of the people. In ancient Athens, when Plato and Socrates lived, the free citizens of the town met and ran the city state. There were, of course, numerous restrictions on who could participate in government, but the idea took hold that the people would run the affairs of the nation. As is the case with groups of people, factions will develop. A government of citizenry will naturally split into factions. In The Republic, Plato understood this process. Plato is setting up the idea that a democracy is a chaotic form of government and that a single dictator (the Philosopher King) is less corruptible.