Sunday 26 September 2010

History of Economic Thought: Plato

 Being a complete novice at economics, I went to the course of the History of Economic Thought at Mary Ward Centre with great curiosity.  In the first lesson of economics, I was delighted to learn something about ancient Greek society and the rise of Greek philosophers.  Ignorant as I am in philosophy as in economics, I had only heard of Plato in the context of Platonic Love.  Never had I had the faintest idea that Plato was also the forefather of Communism!  In the 4th century BC, he exposed three main evils of an imperfect society: inequality, greed and ignorance and attributed the roots of all evils to ruthless profit-making and exploitation.

To be serious, Plato was not a communist.  The difference between Plato and Marxism lies in their theories of social divisions. Marxists advocate a society ruled by Proletarians as in their slogan: “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.” Whereas Proletarians/Producers/the working class in Plato’s ideal “city” would be placed in the lowest strata of the society.  Plato’s ideal was a society ruled by Priests and Philosophers – the thinkers, not by Producers/the working class.

Let’s be honest, can the working class really rule the world without the “intellectual guidance” from “Priests and Philosophers”? I wonder if anybody still remembers George Orwell’s Animal Farm, in which Squealer – the intellectual pig, run the whole show of the Farm with his glib tongue.  The egalitarian slogan of the communist farm reads:


Related topic:
History of Economic Thought

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