edit SideBar

Plato's defense of Slavery

BACK TO: The myth of "Plato v. Aristotle"

< Aristotle was (in fact) against Usury! | OOPS! | How "Platonist" St Augustine (and St Paul) also defended slavery >

In LaRouche's "Plato v. Aristotle" myth, Aristotle is presented as pro-Slavery and Plato as the inspiration to anti-slavery "republicanism". Mmm. The fact is that Plato was also defending slavery!

PLATO: The Laws, Book VI
The Problem of Slavery

ATHENIAN: Look here, Cleinias: the animal 'man' quite obviously has a touchy temper, and it looks as if it won't be easy, now or in the future, to persuade him to fall neatly into two categories (slave and freeman master) which are necessary for pratical purposes. Your slave, therefore, will be a difficult beast to handle. The frequent and repeated revolts in Messenia, and in the states where people possess a lot of slaves who all speak the same language, have shown the evils of the system often enough; and we can also point to the various crimes and adventures of the robbers who plague Italy, the 'Rangers,' as the're called. In view of all this you may well be puzzled to know what your general policy ought to be. In fact, there are just two ways of dealing with the problem open to us: first, if these slaves are to submit to their condition without giving trouble, they should not all come from the same country or speak the same tongue, as far as it can be arranged; secondly, we ought to train them properly, not only for their sakes but above all for our own. The best way to train slaves is to refrain from arrogantly ill-treating them, and to harm them even less (assuming that's possible) than you would your equals. You see, when a man can hurt someone as often as he likes, he'll soon show whether or not his respect for justice is natural and unfeigned and springs from a genuine hatred of injustice. If his attitude to his slaves and his conduct towards them are free of any taint of impiety and injustice, he'll be splendidly effective at sowing the seeds of virtue. Just the same can be said of the way in which the master or dictator or person in any position of authority deals with someone weaker than himself. Even so, we should certainly punish slaves if they deserve it, and not spoil them by simply giving them a warning, as we would free men. Virtually everything you say to a slave should be an order, and you should never become at all familiar with them - neither the women nor the men. (Though this is how a lot of silly folk do treat their slaves and usually only succeed in spoiling them and in making life more difficult - more difficult, I mean for the slaves to take orders and for themselves to maintain their authority.)
CLEINIAS; You're quite right.

Edit - History - Print - Recent Changes - Search
Page last modified on August 11, 2012, at 06:26 AM