I was forced to spend some time away from serious reading, and now I am back to tackling Plato’s Republic.
The opening subject deals with age. An older man is asked by Socrates if aging has treated him poorly. The jovial Cephalus counters, describing the loss of youthful passions as being “freed from the bonds of many masters”. Cephalus begins to enjoy more valuable things in life, such as conversation, the company of friends, and philosophy over food, drink, and lustfulness. He claims a good man can approach death and the afterlife with peace of mind, rather than dwell upon his past sins and be fearful of post-mortem punishment.
Goodness and justice become the main theme. In this portion of the work, the first question is what exactly is justice. Many questions are posed, but what speaks to me the most is the comparison of justice to the arts.
Thrasymachus, the most fiery of the philosophical bunch, makes the assertion that justice is only beneficial to the stronger. He begins to explain that in most situations the just man gains far less benefit than the unjust man. With his honor, he will pay more income tax than the unjust man for his honesty and will lose friends for not doing them favors when put in a position of power.
Thrasymachus is countered by Socrates with an argument saying that an art is not practiced for the sake of itself. A physician does not practice medicine for medicines’ sake, nor does one who practices horsemanship do it for the sake of horsemanship. A doctor practices medicine to heal a patient and the horseman practices his art for the sake of the horse.
Art is not concerned with itself, but with becoming more than itself and helping enlighten others.
I found this very relevant to the realm of composers. Most modern pieces are so occupied with being “intellectual” and needlessly complex in order to impress other composers. The modern listener can only enjoy music more than 100 years old, as most modern music comes off as boring, absurd, or in some cases vulgar for no reason beyond “art for art’s sake”. When one begins to practice something only in the interest of oneself, or only for the interest of what is being practiced. This is very relevant to the idea of justice and the state.
Most post-enlightenment politics is so obsessed with practicing an “ideal” form of government, one that has never worked and never will. The modern left and what it has influenced will come in under the guise of helping others, when in reality it will only lead to their moral, spiritual, and often physical detriment. Instead of following ideas which led to the prosperity and peace in the West, it promotes a utopia while only bringing about hell to those who seek after it.
In the name of Marxist ideological purity, or simply emotional delight in false charity, many promote ideas that will never truly be able to come to pass. Most politicians will never be able to promote policies which will actually help people, as they crusade against them with the vigor that Satan attempts to undermine the miracles of Christ.
In summary, politics should be about people. Do what works, even if it is painful. Don’t claim to help people while only harming them by poisoning them with laziness or stealing their piety and tradition.
Are the thefts of natural law and universal principles somehow just? Is the promotion of ideas which bring downfall to civilizations in the name of equality and “progress” somehow justify the murder of the soul? We do not practice justice, only the promotion of pipe dreams and pointless ideas.
Thrasymachus tries to argue that justice, in its purest form, is still not beneficial. The just man cannot subjugate, or lie, or cheat, or gain something without great effort. He represents the true spirit the enlightenment hides: once justice is gone, anything is permissible. If there is no God or King to promote morality, all actions can be used to gain for the individual. Any form of immorality or selfishness can prosper, because justice and goodness are inconvenient to those who are selfish.
What we can learn from this is that we must always promote objective justice, goodness, and morality. Those only seek to destroy others for their own gain can only hide their evil by saying that good is the real evil, or that goodness and evil are simply relative and do not exist.
“He who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself.”, says Socrates. As a punishment for the just hiding, we are stuck with those in power who are either wildly incompetent, evil, or in their incompetence manipulated by those who are evil. We must continue to work towards the full removal of Enlightenment demons, and pray ceaselessly for someone to lead to counter-revolution. Never compromise on moral issues, and continue to use reason when challenging those who promote evil ideologies, as evil can only prosper when it appeals to the emotional and subjective desire of selfishness.