The Relationship Between Ruler and Ruled

Plato’s “The Republic” and More’s “Utopia explore the possibilities of creating an ideal state. In an idea state however, there must be some sort of regulation among the masses, and this comes from a relationship between a ruler and those that are ruled. Although they each concede that it is necessary for their state to have a ruler and those who are ruled, it is Plato’s search for the perfect soul that compels him to create a rigid system of leadership under the philosopher kings and it is More’s desire to create a superior nation that drives him to construct a fluid class system allowing the rise of a ruler. These differences in motivation cause the different relationships between ruler and ruled in “Utopia” and “The Republic”.

Plato’s “perfect” state must also have a ruler that is equally as ideal. The philosopher king he describes through the voice of Socrates comes from a separate category from ordinary citizens. The philosopher king is an elite individual, trained from birth in mathematics, war, and the didactic method. This creates a distinct and rigid separation between the ruling class and the rest of the general population. Plato’s initiative is his search for the perfect soul, and through his belief that humans are inherently flawed, he concludes that it is in the best interest of the masses to be ruled under strict power. In this view the perfect soul is one which is just and happy, so in the analogy of the state, Plato believes that it is the duty of the ruler to rule and the duty of the citizens to carry out the tasks they are most capable of. This strict societal structure between the ruling class and the ruled stems from Plato’s belief that the soul is most happy when it is carrying out the task that supports the greater good.

Similarly, More seeks to create a society at peace with itself, but his ideology rests upon the idea that Utopian citizens will feel a collective sense of cooperation and justice. This more optimistic view of human nature relies on a general good natured attitude of his citizens in creating a less rigid relationship between the ruling class and the ruled. In Utopian society, there is no separation between the general public and future rulers. This allows for greater social mobility and the possibility of a capable ruler rising from the public, though Utopian leaders carry less power than those of “The Republic”. This is derived from More’s desire for equality and to create a superior nation, viewing humans as malleable and interchangeable therefore creating a more fluid relationship between ruler and ruled.

The societies of “Utopia” and “The Republic” ┬áboth necessitate the presence of a ruler and those that must be ruled, it is the motivation behind the ideologies however, that shapes the relationships of each society.

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