Plato The State (aka The Republic) needs to be read first, if you want to understand what Popper (you might know him from Logik der Forschung) is pointing out in the Open Society: at its very start, Democracy has been under siege by those opposing it, and those people are in favor of a closed society. In that society, people are stuck in the current structure, which comes from the time of the Greek tribal society. There is no room for personal responsibility in a closed society. The tribe means everything, and the individual means nothing at all.
It was the trade and seafaring nation of city-state Athens which led to way to a breakdown of Greek tribal society. Socrates was one of the fiercest defenders of the Open Society (and of free thinking) and his student Plato tried to give the impression that Socrates agreed with all there is to be found in The Republic. But Plato sees the decay of the tribal state as the root of all evil.
The battle of the collective versus the individual is a ancient battle, still to be fought today. Members of an open society want to progress and take the place of others. Popper states there is no turning back to a closed society, or we should take that effort really seriously and return to the society of animals. It is paradise lost, for those who have tasted the tree of wisdom. Repression of reason and truth will end at what is most brutal and violent.
I have read the book until the part about Hegel and Marx. I think it makes more sense to read them first, before I read Popper’s opinions (which can be quite polemic at times). Actually, it is amazing that Plato had not been criticized for so many centuries (apart from a sneer by Hume, I guess)....Continua