Plato and the Spell of the State
Libertarian Papers 3 (2011)
This essay attempts to show that Plato’s thought makes important contributions to libertarian theory. Plato diagnoses the state as essentially a state of mind, one in which irrational desires replace natural reason as a guide to ethical conduct. The statist mindset is therefore marked by profound self-deception about what is truly good. Importantly, Plato contends that this self-deception plagues the rulers of the state as much as, or more than, the subjects. They mistakenly believe that wielding unjust power will bring them happiness, when in fact it brings them misery. The aim of Plato’s philosophy is to convince aspiring rulers of that truth
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