Friday, September 11, 2009

Platonists in the House?

The book I have been reading lately is The Ominous Parallels by Dr. Leonard Peikoff, and so far I have to say I'm intensely impressed. I should have picked it up sooner.

The premise of the book is that the ideological framework (or, the ideas) that gave rise to Nazi Germany is now present in American culture, and is, as a result, moving the country towards a totalitarian state. Dr. Peikoff sets out to prove his argument by citing the specific philosophic theories that were endorsed by the Nazis and showing how they necessarily translated into and served as the justification for the genocidal and economically destructive actions of the Nazi dictatorship.

I am only in the third chapter, but already I am enthusiastic enough to give it my recommendation. I wonder, however, if this book has answered this one question that has been bothering me for several months.

The question that has been on my mind for the past few months is how the politicians of our time can move forward with a course of action that is so massively unpopular when, as per the nature of a democracy (even though we are supposed to be a republic), they are supposed to yield to popular opinion. My original theory was that the size of government has increased to the point that the most despotic-minded politician has inculcated within himself a master-slave mindset and so acts accordingly by pursuing his own ends despite of the protests of his constituents. Reading TOP, however, makes me cast doubt on this.

One of Leonard Peikoff's explanations as to why the Nazis continued to pursue their goals with total disregard for the disasters that they were causing is that they held onto Plato's "Two Realities" worldview. Plato gave forth the theory that there are actually two realities: one reality in which everything is "perfect", and the other reality, the one we live in and perceive, is but an imperfect reflection of the perfect one. Everything we perceive, the trees, people, lands, and et cetera are all reflections of something that is totally different, literally unimaginable for humans, in the perfect dimension.

People in specific, according to Peikoff, are regarded in Plato's theory as multiple reflections of something that is only a single entity in the perfect dimension, so what may appear to you as multiple autonomous persons are really reflected cells of the "Entity" in the other dimension.

Also, Plato stated that knowledge of the perfect dimension is available to only a select few people (philosopher kings?) by some means of the sorts (of course emotions) and that they should have the right to rule over the masses that are ignorant of such knowledge, that only the select few are the "true voice" of the Entity in the other dimension.

In practice for the Nazis this means that they viewed the sacrifices of their own constituents as merely sacrificing a few "cells" and that they had to right to do so since they were the chosen ones with knowledge of the other world and were thus the true voice of the will of the Entity, despite the illusion that the cells were protesting against such actions. One could almost say they may have viewed the extermination of the Jewish as the removal of a cancerous tumor in the Entity.

This philosophical worldview, of course, is nonsensical and arbitrary. There is no evidence in reality that would give rise for the theory of there being two worlds. This originated as daydream and is to be dismissed as a daydream.

However, I wonder: Is the Two Realities worldview by Plato shared with our present politicians? Are there Platonists in the White House?

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