The Rules for Guardians
A person might say:
- that you are making these Guardians miserable,
- that they are the cause of their own unhappiness,
- that the city in fact belongs to the Guardians yet they gain nothing form it, whereas other men acquire lands, build large houses, and have everything handsome about them, offering sacrifices to the gods and practising hospitality,
- that the Guardians have non-physical wealth, but are just as poor as our citizens, and
- that they are no better than mercenaries who are quartered in the city and are always mounting guard.
Yes, they are only fed like other men. Therefore, they cannot take a journey of pleasure. They have no money to spend on a mistress or any other luxurious fancy, which is thought to be happiness. Many similar other accusations might be added. Even as they are, our guardians are likely be the happiest of men.
But our aim in founding the State was not the disproportionate happiness of any one class. Our aim is the greatest happiness of the whole. We thought that we should most likely:
- find justice in a State that aims for the good of the whole, and
- find injustice in the ill-ordered State.
Having found them, we might then decide which of the two States is happier. Right now, we are fashioning the happy State, not piecemeal, or with a view of making a few happy citizens, but as a whole. By-and-by, we will proceed to view the opposite kind of State.
Suppose that we were painting a statue. Someone comes up to us and says= “Why don’t you put the most beautiful colours on the most beautiful parts of the body? The eyes should be purple, but you have made them black.”
We answer: “We cannot beautify the eyes to the point that they are no longer eyes. Instead, by giving this and the other features their due proportion, we make the whole beautiful.”
So do not compel us to give a kind of happiness to the guardians which will make them anything but guardians.
We can clothe our husbandmen in royal apparel. Our potters also might be allowed to feast by the fireside. In this way, we might make every class happy, and then the whole State. But do not put this idea into our heads, because this idea would:
- make the husbandman no longer a husbandman, and
- the potter will cease to be a potter.
No one will have the character of any distinct class in the State. This is not of much consequence if the corruption of society, and pretension to be what you are not, is confined to cobblers.
But when the guardians of the laws and government are fake guardians, they can turn the State upside down. On the other hand, they alone have the power of giving order and happiness to the State.
Our guardians should be true saviours and not the destroyers of the State. Our opponent is thinking of peasants enjoying a life of revelry, not of citizens who are doing their duty to the State. But if so, then we mean different things, and he is speaking of something which is not a State.
Therefore we must consider whether in appointing our guardians:
- we would look to their greatest happiness individually, or
- whether this principle of happiness does not rather reside in the State as a whole.
If this is the truth, then the guardians and auxiliaries, and all others equally with them, must be compelled to do their own work in the best way.
Thus, the whole State will grow up in a noble order. The several classes will receive the proportion of happiness which nature assigns to them.