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Quotations on Totalitarianism

Ancient Roots of Modern Fascism

Totalitarian Revolution in Ancient China

Totalitarian Revolution in Ancient India


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Totalitarianism is thousands of years old. It has deep roots in ancient China and ancient India. It can be seen in the writings of people such as Lord Shang in ancient China and in the Arthashastra in ancient India. Totalitarianism also has deep roots in the West in the writings of Plato. There is simply no way that you can study Plato and not see his writings as totalitarian.

Unfortunately, in the West there has been a refusal to accept that fact. The most extreme example of that is the mistaken titling of his main book on politics of the state as “The Republic.”   “Republic” is not even a Greek word. It's a Latin word. So obviously Plato did not choose that for the title of his book. Plato's actual statements are controversial, but they are facts, and that is why they are presented here. They are a key part of ancient history and even in the West they're not an isolated part of ancient history. Democracy in Greece failed. It committed suicide. It also committed terrible war crimes as part of its campaigns of imperialism. It was replaced by the Empire of Alexander and its successor states. Nobody in Greece made any effort to revive democracy after it committed suicide and this is highly relevant. In Rome, the Republic also committed suicide and turned into the Empire. There are lessons here for today's world.

We believe that we should all work to reform democracy in today's world.   However, if it cannot deal with issues like the global environmental crisis, it will be replaced.  






 "[473c] Unless," said I, "either philosophers become kings [473d] in our states or those whom we now call our kings and rulers take to the pursuit of philosophy seriously and adequately, and there is a conjunction of these two things, political power and philosophic intelligence, while the motley horde of the natures who at present pursue either apart from the other are compulsorily excluded, there can be no cessation of troubles for our states, nor, I fancy, for the human race either. Nor, until this happens, will this constitution which we have been expounding in theory [473e] ever be put into practice within the limits of possibility and see the light of the sun."

"[483b] I suppose the makers of the laws are the weaker sort of men, and the more numerous. So it is with a view to themselves and their own interest that they make their laws and distribute their praises and censures; [483c] and to terrorize the stronger sort of folk who are able to get an advantage, and to prevent them from getting one over them, they tell them, that such aggrandizement is foul and unjust, and that wrongdoing is just this endeavor to get the advantage of one's neighbors: for I expect they are well content to see themselves on an equality, when they are so inferior. So this is why by convention it is termed unjust and foul to aim at an advantage over the majority, [483d] and why they call it wrongdoing: but nature, in my opinion, herself proclaims the fact that it is right for the better to have advantage of the worse, and the abler of the feebler. It is obvious in many cases that this is so, not only in the animal world, but in the states and races, collectively, of men--that right has been decided to consist in the sway and advantage of the stronger over the weaker. For by what manner of right did Xerxes [483e] march against Greece, or his father against Scythia? Or take the countless other cases of the sort that one might mention. Why, surely these men follow nature--the nature of right--in acting thus; yes, on my soul, and follow the law of nature--though not that, I dare say, which is made by us; we mold the best and strongest amongst us, taking them from their infancy like young lions, and utterly enthrall them by our spells [484a] and witchcraft, telling them the while that they must have but their equal share, and that this is what is fair and just. But, I fancy, when some man arises with a nature of sufficient force, he shakes off all that we have taught him, bursts his bonds, and breaks free; he tramples underfoot our codes and juggleries, our charms and "laws," which are all against nature; our slave rises in revolt and shows himself our master, and there [484b] dawns the full light of natural justice."


"[293a] We must … look for the right kind of rule in one or two or very few men, whenever such right rule occurs. And these men, whether they rule over willing or unwilling subjects, with or without written laws, and whether they are rich or poor, must … exercise their rule in accordance with some art or science. [293c] … Among forms of government one is preeminently right and is the only real government, in which the rulers are found to be truly possessed of science, not merely to seem to possess it, whether they rule by law or without law, whether their subjects are willing or unwilling, [293d] and whether they themselves are rich or poor--none of these things can be at all taken into account on any right method.  And whether they purge the state for its good by killing or banishing some of the citizens, or make it smaller by sending out colonies somewhere, as bees swarm from the hive, or bring in citizens from elsewhere to make it larger, so long as they act in accordance with science and justice and preserve and benefit it by making it better than it was, so far as is possible, [293e] that must at that time and by such characteristics be declared to be the only right form of government. All other forms must be considered not as legitimate or really existent, but as imitating this; those states which are said to be well governed imitate it better, and the others worse.  [294a] It is clear that lawmaking belongs to the science of kingship; but the best thing is not that the laws be in power, but that the man who is wise and of kingly nature be ruler … law could never, by determining exactly what is noblest [294b] and must just for one and all, enjoin upon them that which is best; for the differences of men and of actions and the fact that nothing, I may say, in human life is ever at rest, forbid any science whatsoever to promulgate any simple rule for everything and for all time."

"[501a] [Philosopher kings must] take the city and the characters of men, as they might a tablet, and first wipe it clean--no easy task. But at any rate you know that this would be the first point of difference from ordinary reformers, that they would refuse to take in hand either individual or state or to legislate before they either received a clean slate or themselves made it clean."



"[564a] The probable outcome of too much freedom is only too much slavery in the individual and the state.  Probably, then, tyranny develops out of no other constitution than democracy--from the height of liberty, I take it, the fiercest extreme of servitude ... [565c] Is it not always the way of a demos (i.e., the masses) to put forward one man as its special champion and protector and cherish and magnify him? This, then, is plain, [565d] … when a tyrant arises he sprouts from a protectorate root and from nothing else."


"[317a] The multitude … perceive practically nothing, but merely echo this or that pronouncement of their leaders."



"[455a] Rhetoric … is a producer of persuasion for belief, not for instruction in the matter of right and wrong.  And so the rhetorician's business is not to instruct a law court or a public meeting in matters of right and wrong, but only to make them believe; since, I take it, he could not in a short while instruct such a mass of people in matters so important.

"[463a] [Rhetoric] seems to me … to be a pursuit … which has a natural bent for clever dealing with mankind, and I sum up its substance in the name flattery."

"[463d] Rhetoric … is a … branch of politics."


"[261a] Is not rhetoric in its entire nature an art which leads the soul by means of words, not only in law courts and the various other public assemblages, [261b] but in private companies as well? And is it not the same when concerned with small things as with great, and, properly speaking, no more to be esteemed in important than in trifling matters?"

"[263b] He who is to develop an art of rhetoric must first make a methodical division and acquire a clear impression of each class, that in which people must be in doubt and that in which they are not." 


"[201a] The profession of those who are greatest in wisdom, who are called orators and lawyers; for they persuade men by the art which they possess, not teaching them, but making them have whatever opinion they like."


"[222c] And by giving the art of the law courts, of the public platform, and of conversation also a single name and calling [222d] them all collectively an art of persuasion."



"[942a] Military organization is the subject of much consultation and of many appropriate laws. The main principle is this--that nobody, male or female, should ever be left without control, nor should anyone, whether at work or in play, grow habituated in mind to acting alone and on his own initiative, but he should live always, both in war [942b] and peace, with his eyes fixed constantly on his commander and following his lead; and he should be guided by him even in the smallest detail of his actions--for example, to stand at the word of command, and to march, and to exercise, to wash and eat, to wake up at night for sentry-duty and dispatch-carrying, and in moments of danger to wait for the commander's signal before either pursuing or retreating before an enemy; and, in a word, [942c] he must instruct his soul by habituation to avoid all thought or idea of doing anything at all apart from the rest of his company, so that the life of all shall be lived en masse and in common; for there is not, nor ever will be, any rule superior to this or better and more effective in ensuring safety and victory in war. This task of ruling, and being ruled by, others must be practiced in peace from earliest childhood; but anarchy [942d] must be utterly removed from the lives of all mankind."



"[760b] The country must be guarded in the following manner: we have marked out the whole country as nearly as possible into twelve equal portions: to each portion one tribe shall be assigned by lot, and it shall provide five men to act as land-stewards and watch-captains; it shall be the duty of each of the Five to select twelve [760c] young men from his own tribe of an age neither under 25 nor over 30. To these groups of twelve the twelve portions of the country shall be assigned, one to each in rotation for a month at a time, so that all of them may gain experience and knowledge of all parts of the country. The period of office and of service for guards and officers shall be two years. From the portion in which they are stationed first by the lot they shall pass on month by month to the next district, under the leadership of the watch-captains, in a direction from left to right,-- [760d] and that will be from west to east. [761d] The Sixty must guard each their own district, not only because of enemies, but in view also of those who profess to be friends. And if one either of the foreign neighbors or of the citizens [761e] injures another citizen, be the culprit a slave or a freeman, the judges for the complainant shall be the Five officers themselves in petty cases, and the Five each with their twelve subordinates in more serious cases, where the damages claimed are up to three minae."

"[762b] The mode of life of the officers and land-stewards during their two years of service shall be of the following kind. First, [762c] in each of the districts there shall be common meals, at which all shall mess together. If a man absents himself by day, or by sleeping away at night, without orders from the officers or some urgent cause, and if the Five inform against him and post his name up in the market-place as guilty of deserting his watch, then he shall suffer degradation for being a traitor to his public duty, and whoever meets him and desires to punish him may give him a beating [762d] with impunity. And if any one of the officers themselves commits any such act, it will be proper for all the Sixty to keep an eye on him; and if any of them notices or hears of such an act, but fails to prosecute, he shall be held guilty under the same laws, and shall be punished more severely than the young men; he shall be entirely disqualified from holding posts of command over the young men. Over these matters the Law-wardens shall exercise most careful supervision, to prevent if possible their occurrence, and, where they do occur, to ensure that they meet with the punishment they deserve."



"[459a] You have in your house hunting-dogs and a number of pedigree cocks … do not some prove better than the rest? Do you then breed from all indiscriminately, or are you careful to breed from the best? [459b] And, again, do you breed from the youngest or the oldest, or, so far as may be, from those in their prime? And if they are not thus bred, you expect, do you not, that your birds and hounds will greatly degenerate?  And what of horses and other animals? Is it otherwise with them? … How imperative, then, is our need of the highest skill in our rulers, if the principle holds also for mankind? … [459d] the best men must cohabit with the best women in as many cases as possible and the worst with the worst in the fewest, [459e] and that the offspring of the one must be reared and that of the other not, if the flock is to be as perfect as possible. And the way in which all this is brought to pass must be unknown to any but the rulers, if, again, the herd of guardians is to be as free as possible from dissension.  [460a] Certain ingenious lots, then, I suppose, must be devised so that the inferior man at each conjugation may blame chance and not the rulers [460b] and on the young men, surely, who excel in war and other pursuits we must bestow honors and prizes, and, in particular, the opportunity of more frequent intercourse with the women, which will at the same time be a plausible pretext for having them beget as many of the children as possible. And the children thus born will be taken over by the officials appointed for this, men or women or both, since, I take it, the official posts too are common to women and men."



"[460c] The offspring of the inferior, and any of those of the other sort who are born defective, they will properly dispose of in secret, so that no one will know what has become of them. That is the condition of preserving the purity of the guardians’ breed."



"[783d] The bride and bridegroom must set their minds to produce for the State children of the greatest possible goodness and beauty.  [783e] All people that are partners in any action produce results that are fair and good when so ever they apply their minds to themselves and the action, but the opposite results when either they have no minds or fail to apply them. The bridegroom, therefore, shall apply his mind both to the bride and to the work of procreation, and the bride shall do likewise, especially during the period when they have no children yet born.  [784a] In charge of them there shall be the women-inspectors whom we have chosen … [784b] The period of procreation and supervision shall be ten years and no longer, whenever there is an abundant issue of offspring; but in case any are without issue to the end of this period, they shall take counsel in common to decide what terms are advantageous for both parties, in conjunction with their kindred and the women-officials, and be divorced. If any dispute arises as to what is fitting and advantageous for each party, they shall choose ten of the Law-wardens, [784c] and abide by the regulations they shall permit or impose. The women-inspectors shall enter the houses of the young people, and, partly by threats, partly by admonition, stop them from their sin and folly: if they cannot do so, they shall go and report the case to the Law-wardens, and they shall prevent them. If they also prove unable, they shall inform the State Council, The man that is thus posted up,-- [784d] if he fails to defeat those who have thus posted him in the law-courts,--shall suffer the following disqualifications: he shall not attend any marriage or children's birthday feasts, and if he does so, anyone who wishes may with impunity punish him with blows. The same law shall hold good for the women: the offender shall have no part in women's excursions, honors, or invitations to weddings or birthday feasts, if she has been similarly posted up as disorderly and has lost her suit.  [784e] And when they shall have finished producing children according to the laws, if the man have sexual intercourse with a strange woman, or the woman with a man, while the latter are still within the procreative age-limit, they shall be liable to the same penalty as was stated for those still producing children. Thereafter the man and woman that are sober-minded in these matters shall be well-reputed in every way; but the opposite kind of esteem, [785a] or rather disesteem, shall be shown to persons of the opposite character."


"[540e] All inhabitants above the age of ten … [541a] they will send out into the fields, and they will take over the children, remove them from the manners and habits of their parents, and bring them up in their own customs and laws which will be such as we have described. This is the speediest and easiest way in which such a city and constitution as we have portrayed could be established and prosper and bring most benefit to the people [541b] among whom it arises."



"[415a] God in creating those who are fit to rule, poured gold into their creation, for which reason they are the most precious--but in the helpers silver, and iron and brass in the farmers and other craftsmen. And as you are all akin, though for the most part you will breed after your kinds, [415b] it may sometimes happen that a golden father would beget a silver son and that a golden offspring would come from a silver sire and that the rest would in like manner be born of one another. So that the first and chief injunction that the god lays upon the rulers is that of nothing else are they to be such careful guardians and so intently observant as of the intermixture of these metals in the souls of their offspring, and if sons are born to them with an infusion of brass or iron [415c] they shall by no means give way to pity in their treatment of them, but shall assign to each the status due to his nature."