"Liberty Passes Into The Harshest And Bitterest Form Of Slavery"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Plato, Greek philosopher, a disciple of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, wrote in the form of dialogues in which Socrates through interrogation leads others to perceive the truth. Probably his greatest work, The Republic describes the workings of an imaginary ideal state. This first Utopia was based on justice and a division of labor whereby each class in society happily performed the functions and duties for which it was best suited. Under such a system the philosopher ruled, the soldier fought, the worker tended the field–and all enjoyed the fruits of their common labor. Plato's proposal of communism was not based on the assumption that equality per se was the highest good, but that only this form of government could insulate man from the temptations and distractions which more extensive public power inevitably generates. Thus, in Book VIII, Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus consider the various features of timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny or despotism. In a democracy three classes emerge: the drones or spendthrifts, the orderly or wealthy, and the workers. The desire of the worker to gain the wealth and status of the orderly leads him to raise a protector who, once he has tasted blood, is converted into a tyrant. As long as the tyrant is able to live off the spoils of his rebellion, he rules with tolerance; but, when necessary, he exploits the very parents (the people) who fostered him:

By heaven, he said, then the parent will discover what a monster he has been fostering in his bosom; and, when he wants to drive him out, he will find that he is weak and his son strong. . . . Then he is a parricide, and a cruel guardian of an aged parent; and this is real tyranny, about which there can be no longer a mistake: as the saying is, the people who would escape the smoke which is the slavery of freemen, have fallen into the fire which is the tyranny of slaves. Thus liberty, getting out of all order and reason, passes into the harshest and bitterest form of slavery.