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Democracy: Justices, Injustices, and Socratic Arguments to Improve Current Democratic Politics

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In the Republic, Plato seeks to define justice and, through definition, show that justice is intrinsically worthwhile. In doing so, Plato sets out to explain the principal concept of political justice, and from this obtain a parallel model of individual justice. Essentially, justice is defined as a result of accurate logic or reasoning. However, it is quite important to note that the democratic regime discussed in the Republic is not the same as the known democratic regime of today. The democratic establishment discussed in the Republic is a direct democracy, which, even at that time, proved to be a failure. However, the overall idea of justice and injustice found in direct democracy oftentimes proves analogous to that of the current representative democracy.

Throughout the Republic Plato seeks a definition of justice, and, in Book VIII, what justice might be found in the different regimes presented, including the democratic regime. Justice, as found in democracy, has its roots in equality and variety. Indeed, Socrates confirms that "it looks as though this is the finest or most beautiful of the constitutions, for . . . this city, embroidered with every kind of character type, would seem to be the most beautiful." Variety is important to some, equality to most, and it is in the democracy where these two elements are highly valued. Here, justice is seen through the concept of equality, a vital concept of the true Form of Justice to many. Indeed, equality is a core aspect of democracy in the Republic, from which Plato identifies that it is the democratic regime that gives way to equality in the purest form available. This democratic regime containing the pure equality is admired by Plato, for it is "a pleasant constitution . . . which distributes a sort of equality to both equals and unequals alike." Another aspect of the Form of Justice which is extremely important to many, and is also found in the democratic regime, is freedom. Plato, in fact, seems to admire the concept of freedom, although not placing it above the quest of seeking the Form of the Good, as Socrates observes that in "this city there is no requirement to rule . . . or again to be ruled if you don't want to be, or be at war . . . or at peace unless you want it . . . Isn't this a divine and pleasant life, while it lasts?" Freedom is basically found only, or at least more completely, in the democratic regime as opposed to the other regimes discussed in the Republic. It is this freedom which is desired by many, but acquired by few, that Plato marvels at and gives credit toward the democratic regime for possessing. Justice can also be found even in what some would call a weakness and others, like Plato, strength of the democratic regime. Plato notes that in some instances "the democratic party yields to the oligarchic, so that some of the young man's appetites are overcome, others are expelled, a kind of shame that rises in his soul, and order is restored." The restoration of order pulls the ruler, and thus much of society, towards moderation, a key concept in the definition of justice. It is in this restoration of order that justice may be found, for, according to Plato, the more order and harmony is attained by the society, justice is more valued and thus more prevalent. Plato also discusses the type of ruler in a democratic regime, establishing a connection between the ruler and the regime, when he reasons, "I also suppose that he's a complex man, full of all sorts of characters, fine and multicolored, just like the democratic city, and that many men and women might envy his life, since it contains the most models of constitutions and ways of living." People often tend to envy what is desirable, and desire what is good, particularly envying the ruler of the democracy and thus the regime itself. Through the many types of establishments, the true Form of Justice is able to manifest itself in a variety of ways, allowing for many outlets of justice in the democratic regime.

Although Plato describes what justices are found in democratic regimes, he also points out the numerous injustices that are present as well. It is, as follows, that these injustices, which weaken the democratic regime, prevent it from prevailing in the ideal society. Whereas in the ideal society the rulers seek truth and real knowledge (ultimately the Form of the Good), in the democratic society the rulers seek after unnecessary appetites. Essentially, Plato describes, in Book V, real knowledge as everlasting, never changing or ceasing. Therefore, those things that demonstrate justice in the society only compose a portion or segment of the true Form of Justice, as Plato depicts in Book VI. True justice, according to Plato, cannot be found in democratic regimes, but rather in the society ruled by the philosopher-king, because only he seeks true justice. Plato's reasoning is evident as Socrates questions, "[s]o isn't it clear by now that it is impossible for a city to honor wealth and at the same time for its citizens to acquire moderation, but one or the other is inevitably neglected?" Plato described moderation, and the pursuit thereof, vital to justice in the ideal regime, therefore because the democratic regime honors wealth above moderation, true justice is pushed aside. In the democracy the opinion of the philosopher is not always valued above that of society, and it is because of this that the democracy is judged by many to be beautiful. For only the philosopher seeks the true Form of the Good, and thus only the philosopher knows what regime is best for society. Indeed, only a true philosopher sees beyond the faÐ*ade of variety and equality in a democracy and identifies those factors which enable injustice to flourish. Additionally, Plato argues in Book IV that "isn't to produce justice to establish the parts of the soul in a natural relation of control, one by another, while to produce injustice is to establish a relation of ruling and being ruled contrary to nature?" Because the ruler of the democratic regime, the son of the oligarch, has a soul that is not in a natural relation of control, the regime itself, therefore, produces injustice. Plato systematically argues throughout Book VIII, particularly 558d through 561d, the democratic ruler, and thus the democratic regime, as a fickle and unreliable ruler, giving into whichever pleasure crosses his path at any particular moment. For example, Plato reasons of the democratic ruler that "he too rules his spendthrift pleasure by force - the ones that aren't money-making and are called unnecessary." In ruling by these unnecessary desires, the democratic man allows for injustice to enter, and oftentimes prevail, in his



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