Cities of the Gods: Communist Utopias in Greek Thought by Doyne Dawson

By Doyne Dawson

Smooth reviews of classical utopian idea tend to be constrained to the Republic and legislation of Plato, generating the influence that Greek hypothesis approximately excellent states was once continuously authoritarian and hierarchical. This booklet, notwithstanding, units Plato within the context of the entire historic culture of philosophical utopia. It distinguishes different types of Greek utopia, pertaining to either to the social and the political history of Greece among the 5th and 3rd centuries B.C. there has been a reduce utopianism, intended for literal implementation, which arose from the Greek colonizing stream, and a better theoretical shape which arose from the sensible utopias. Dawson makes a speciality of the better utopianism, whose major topic used to be overall communism in estate and kin. He makes an attempt to reconstruct the misplaced utopian works of the Stoics, arguing that their excellent kingdom used to be common and egalitarian, in planned distinction to the hierarchical and militaristic utopia of Plato; and that either theories have been meant to lead to long-range social reform, notwithstanding neither used to be intended for direct implementation. Dawson deals a proof for the disappearance of the utopian culture within the later Hellenistic age. a last bankruptcy lines the survival of communistic principles in early Christianity.

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Inequalities in landed property, which always existed and in the fourth century became glaring, were superficially reduced by the enforcement of a common and austere style of life. Family life was deliberately weakened by the all-male barracks society in which every Spartiate lived from early childhood. The main instrument by which the ties of property and family were weakened, and the loyalties of the citizen transferred from oikos to polis, was the system of common meals (syssitia). Every Spartiate upon entering adulthood had to be coopted by one of these messes (which corresponded in some way to the Spartan army organization, though exactly how is disputed), and continued to take his meals there even after marriage; failure to gain admission to a mess or to pay his dues meant the loss of his citizen rights.

It now became, and so far as our evidence goes remained, the instrument of Laconist oligarchs, whose main purpose was to find ways to export the military elitism of Sparta to more typical Greek societies. , by proposing a more thorough regulation of property than anyone had ever proposed or practiced; by developing a certain social model, the collectivist elite, which was to attract both Plato and Aristotle. There are also hints that Phaleas understood that abstract models must be implemented at different levels of reality, suggesting the hierarchies of model cities that we find in Plato and Aristotle.

It is assumed that communism must extend to sexual matters, which provides another link with gynecocracy. Several of the motifs in Praxagora's program we have already met. Sexual communism and the communal raising of children come from the legends about the remote barbarians. Common messes, the abolition of currency, the insistence on citizen equality come from Laconist political propaganda. Even the proposal for public slavery recalls Phaleas of Chalcedon. But here all these motifs seem to form a pattern.

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