The Republic and The Matrix

           Plato’s republic relies on one premise. That people will be okay with
not having freedom if all their basic necessities are satisfied. They
will never know or understand that the world they see was crafted by
those with more knowledge and power than them.  In Plato’s society,
the philosopher kings would keep the people under their thumbs to
protect the society they created.  The justification is that most
people are not intelligent enough to understand what is best for them,
so the more superior philosopher kings have the right to control them.
The reasoning of the philosopher kings reminds me of the machines in
The Matrix.  The people in the matrix are completely unaware that the
world they live in is an illusion created to keep them enslaved to the
machines.  Similarly to the philosopher kings, the machines reason
that humans are incapable of managing their own civilization so they
take over and use the humans as fuel.  Of course, an obvious
difference is that the philosopher kings are not enslaving their
people like the machines.  However, they both create a fake reality to
maintain the loyalty of the population.  In The Matrix, the human
rebels, led by Morpheus, Neo, and Trinity, are part of a small group
of resistance fighters who have managed to survive outside the matrix.
Their sole purpose it to fight for the opportunity to live in the real
world and to destroy the machines.  It would have been easier to stay
in the matrix.  But now that they see the true reality, they know they
must risk everything to win back the world for the human race.
This causes me to wonder: could something like this be possible in
the republic?  Let’s say, for instance, a peasant or average citizen
was sent to a philsopher’s house to deliver a message.  Before
knocking on the door, he overhears a conversation between the king and
a guardian.  They talk about all the intricate details of the
republic:  the myth of the metals, the rigged sex lottery, the belief
that most citzens are unable to understand justice, the creation of
the false truths to promote the greater good, the selection process to
determine one’s career, etc.  The citzen is bewildered and shocked at
what he has heard.  He knocks on the door and delivers his message,
all the while trying to keep calm.  He leaves the dwelling thinking
over what he has heard.  He comes to realize that if what he has just
heard is true, everything he has ever known, his life and the world he
lives in, is based on lies.  Although he realizes the city is
extremely prosperous with no poverty, war, or corruption, he is
angered by the fact that for generations the people of his city have
been tricked.  Perhaps he would think, “How dare they say I am not
capable of understanding ideas of justice!  I am not some lower
being!”  After going through emotions of confusion, anger, and rage
the man knows he now has a choice.  He can choose the republic: a
society in which everyone lives happy and fulfilling lives, but are
unaware that they live in a false reality.  Or, he can choose the
opposite: a society which may not be as safe or prosperous as the
republic, but a world where people are free.  So the question now
remains for us to answer.  Would you stay in the matrix?  Or would you
join Neo and Morpheus?


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