The Republic and neoconservatism

I was intrigued by Professor Mackin’s comments about the supposed links between neoconservatives and Platonic thought proposed by some writers, and decided to read more on the subject. A Google search led me to an interview with Simon Blackburn about his creatively titled book, “Plato’s Republic,” in which some of these connections are discussed.  (The interview can be found at http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/06/25/plato_neocons)  In particular, the book discusses some revealing comments made by an (unnamed) “senior adviser to (President) Bush” that appeared in a New York Times article in 2004. (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/17BUSH.html?_r=1&ex=1255665600&en=890a96189e162076&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland.)  An excerpt form the article is worth posting here:

-The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” –

The attitude expressed by the Bush aide (if one actually said this)- that rulers have the right to modify the reality of their subjects, or ‘lie’- is surely something that Plato would have agreed with; one needs only to read Plato’s Myth of the Metals to see that this is the case. Both Plato and the neoconservatives would probably have argued that this ‘lie’ was justifiable, as would only be done in the best interest of those being governed.

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