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The Unified State and the Unified Mind: Social and Moral Utopia in Zamiatin's We and Plato's Republic

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Scholars have often attempted to determine the objects of Zamiatin's satire in his dystopian novel We as well as the model on which he based the structure of his Edinoe Gosudarstvo. This article argues that in order to find the model that Zamiatin used, we should look to the exemplar of utopia itself, Plato's Republic. Plato's vision of the ideal social structure is meant to serve as an allegory for the ideal individual as well as an allegory for morality. Both the collective body and the individual mind are supremely moral, in Plato's view, when all irrational parts are subjugated to reason and rationality and marked by total unity. This article traces debates about Plato's Republic by Russian thinkers in the period just before and immediately after the Revolution, i.e., prior to the period when Zamiatin wrote We, in order to argue for the relevance of Plato in Russian society of the time. In many of these writings, Plato is identified as an ancient source of the ideals of socialism and communism. The close textual parallels between Republic and We are examined, from the broadest level of social organization to the appropriation of Plato's famous images of the Sun, the Line, and the Cave. In his novel, Zamiatin seems to question not only Plato's political vision, but his conceptions of truth, justice, and morality.


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