With the goal of creating the perfect society, the utopia of Plato’s Republic rather presents a dystopia that enforces the marginalization of the individual. Plato believes a strict regulation that constricts independence and individuality makes it possible for citizens to live simple and peaceful lives. Because Plato views freedom as a threat of gaining unnecessary wealth that triggers instability and misdeed, a marginalization of the individual is simply a fundamental principle. Even though the arrangement of Plato’s utopia hinders the growth of individuals, such confinement will forestall the rise of human injustice and ultimately prevent the collapse of society.
Plato attempts to marginalize individuality through censorship and control of education and influence. In hope to create a homogeneous set of people, Plato insists that education should be filtered in a way to represent that perfection and justice are the main aims of living: Let us not believe … that any other child of a god and himself a hero would have dared to do terrible and impious deeds such as the current lies accuse them of. Rather we should compel the poets to deny either that such deeds are their, or that they are children of gods but not to say both … we showed that it’s impossible for evil to be produced by gods. (Plato 69)
The stories of the Greek gods are rewritten in a way that all the gods’ flaws are absent. Rather than giving the audience the power to choose what to take from the stories, Plato generates the Greek gods as impeccable and holy figures. Plato does not trust that people have the ability to wisely choose what is wrong from what is right. He does not give people the option to develop self-reliant ideas. This method makes it unlikely for different religions and values to appear; everyone will have one same belief that he himself constructs.
Plato’s belief that individuality should be detained outlines the confinement of the identity of a citizen. In order to have a uniform community, Plato introduces the strict categories of the utopians: The god, in fashioning those of you who are competent to rule, mixed gold in at their birth; this is why they are most honored; in auxiliaries, silver; and iron and bronze in the farmers and the other craftsmen. (Plato 94)
This system gives a definite outline for people to follow. The type of metal is determined at an early age; as a result, people simply accept what they are assigned and follow the social norm of living. Rather than challenging their position, people believe that the given task is what suits them best. The liberty to find their calling is denied; therefore, human ambition is disciplined to the point where anything that can bring change to society is inexistent. In addition, this scheme not only disables people to find true meaning in their lives, but also restricts individuality. This arrangement puts people into categories that they are stuck in for the rest of their lives. The placement in the three divisions of a utopia defines a person and sets the roadmap for his future. This introduces the noble lie: a person is assigned a certain occupation not by human choice but because he was naturally born to perform a certain trait. Plato wants to “somehow contrive one of those lies that come into being in case of need … some one noble lie to persuade, in the best case, even the rulers, but if not them, the rest of the city” (Plato 93). This lie is told to maintain the social amity by making people believe that what they are assigned is the best for themselves. This disables people to experiment their skills and venture out to find a passion in their lives. One’s identity is given to them at birth, and nothing can be done to improve or expand one’s status. Because it is difficult to control the complex human minds and satisfy everyone’s desires, Plato chooses the alternative route by choosing the people’s futures for them.
The reason why freedom is deprived in a utopia besides the struggles of maintaining all the differences in check deals with the importance of moderation. Plato views that the key factor in sustaining a utopia is the ability to control temptations: Moderation is like a kind of harmony. … It’s unlike courage and wisdom, each of which resides in a part, the one making the city wise and the other courageous. Moderation doesn’t work that way, but actually stretches throughout the whole, from top to bottom of the entire scale, making the weaker, the stronger and those in the middle … sing the same chant together. (Plato 110)
Moderation creates a conformity in which people appreciate each other. Unlike a battlefield where individuals’ selfish motives are the most important, an atmosphere of sharing is introduced. At the same time, it decreases the individuality of human aspiration and personality, for moderation distributes and shares what is found in society amongst the people. In addition, Plato asserts the importance of moderation in the form of expression and want. He indicates that people should be “obedient to the rulers, and being themselves rulers of the pleasures of drink, sex, and eating.” Plato discourages the instant reaction of want and again highlights the importance of control. Also, Plato critiques freedom by explaining that in a democracy, people will call “ moderation cowardliness and spattering it with mud, they banish it … Then, I suppose that afterward such a man lives spending no more money, effort, and time on the necessary than on the unnecessary pleasures” (Plato 239). Without a strict policy that discourages the growth of the individual, the given freedom will blind people of their ability to wisely choose between the choices found in society. Therefore, it is better to provide no choices at all. It is obvious that freedom is a segue of people getting lost in a limitless environment and thus causing numerous problems that are too many to contain. As a result, desire is minimized to a level of submission so that much maintenance is not required and society is, overall, easy to control.
Freedom is inherently linked to avarice, which is a pernicious source of disrupting a utopia’s harmony. Another example of how Plato enforces the marginalization of the individual is through disabling private property. Plato disables ownership and highlights the importance of unity by emphasizing how the happiness of a whole should be favored over the happiness of an individual. The idea of private property is entirely rejected: Whenever they’ll possess private land, houses, and currency, they’ll be householders and farmers instead of guardians, and citizens; hating and being hated, plotted and being plotted against, they’ll lead their whole lives far more afraid of the enemies within that those without. (Plato 96)
Plato displays how gluttony and evil multiplies with the beginning of ownership. The harmony will be interrupted because people will only look at other people’s possessions as an opportunity for them to take. Instead of a system in which everyone’s contribution is equally respected and society is constructed to benefit the whole, the amount of wealth individuals accumulate and the supremacy of their own occupations will be more valued. In a society with private ownership, a person’s loss is a chance for another to gain. As a result, marginalization of individuality is an imperative solution that will prevent human selfishness from destroying the tranquility of society.
By relegating the perception of individual growth and diversity, Plato clearly presents the dangers that freedom can bring. He displays the consequences of human greed when people are not controlled under a certain restriction. Though it is obvious that the utopia cannot develop and grow with these rigid limitations, the utopia will fail without it. However, the “perfection” of Plato’s ideal utopia is questioned. Happiness may never be achieved if motives are denied and discouraged. In attempt to escape the menace of human greed, the entire nature of human personality can be demolished, eventually leading to evaporation of the line between human beings and computerized robots.