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Chris Anderson

Prof. Erika Smith

Introduction to Political Science

17 September 2017

Political Writing Assignment #1

Ancient Greece is thought to be one of the earliest civilizations to dive into

philosophical ideals and the way things ought to be. Plato is considered to be one of the

leaders of this movement. One aspect of life that he studied was politics. More specifically,

he taught what he considered to be the ideal republic. In his book The Republic, Plato goes

in depth on what roles people should have in society. He explains that roles should be given

to people based on their upbringing, characteristics they were taught, and their occupation

in their adult life. He splits an ideal republic into three basic categories: the craftspeople,

auxiliaries, and the guardians. He believes that each category should include their own

specific sets of training and traits. These determine each categorys place in society and the

republic.

The lowest of the three categories of Platos ideal republic are the craftspeople.

These are citizens who engage in economic activity at the base level. They include farmers,

shopkeepers, and merchants. Plato believed that these people needed to be checked. He

thought they were not fit to rule because of their need to fulfill basic desires. He thought

that the skills needed in order to be successful as craftspeople were not good for the

general public. A craftspersons job is to provide a product or service that fulfills a need or

desire. Plato believed that this line of thinking would not be good for society. His argument

for this is that craftspeople fulfill desires, but they dont experience the consequences of it.
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They simply complete a transaction and are rewarded. They do not experience what

happens after their deal is made. Plato believes that craftspeople in positions of power will

fulfill basic desires without thinking of those that the decision will impact.

In order to prevent craftspeople from attempting to rise in the political system,

Plato believed that they needed to be taught restraint. He believed that they should be

aware of their political and economic standing. He thought that they should also know

when to stay in their place. They should prevent themselves from rising by resisting urges

to control.

The second category of Platos ideal republic is the auxiliaries. These are people that

are considered the protectors of the state. They would be considered warriors back in

Platos lifetime, but today the type of person that an auxiliary would most resemble is a

member of a countrys military or police. Plato believed that the role of the auxiliaries is

simply to protect the state. Not only do they protect from other opposing states, but also

from those within their own state. This includes the craftspeople. One of the duties of the

auxiliaries is to check the craftspeoples need to fulfill their basic desires if they attempt to

overthrow the state.

The auxiliaries are taught courage in order to protect the state. They need to be

brave and unafraid of opposing forces. They protect the state and its people through their

acts of courage. Also, the auxiliaries are taught temperance so they dont attempt to rule the

state. They most likely have the capability to overthrow the state and run it themselves.

However, they were not trained to run the state. They were trained to protect it. Because

they are taught temperance, they learn to control their urges.


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The highest category in Platos ideal republic is the guardians. These people are

considered the ruling class. They are the heads of government and society. They decide

how society should be run. The guardians go through intense training. Plato believed that

in order to rule, one must possess wisdom, courage, and temperance (Dooley 37). He also

believed that the guardians needed to understand justice. Because he believed that perfect

knowledge was needed in order to understand all dimensions of justice, he thought that the

guardians needed to demonstrate excellence in mathematics, dialectic argument, military

manners, and philosophy (Dooley 37).

Many things could be said about the way that Plato viewed a perfect republic as.

Many things could also be said of the way the American government is run today. In politics

today, it seems as though leaders do not lead for the good of the people, but for their own

self-interests. This can be seen when examining lobbying channels and political donations.

Even at a glance, its clear to see that politicians do not get their power from the

state, but from the groups that back them and their ideas. After looking at the amounts of

money donated, one can almost questions whether or not politicians actually support a

cause because of their beliefs or because of the money it puts into their pockets.

After looking over most of Trumps cabinet, it is clear to see that the biggest industry

donators to all politicians are oil and gas, retired people, health professionals, and real

estate. However, it is unclear whether these industries support most of the presidential

cabinet because of their beliefs or simply because they are the biggest industries with the

most money. It is also clear that politicians garner the most support from their previous

professional backgrounds. For example, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price

is an M.D. and used to be a practicing orthopedist. His top committee donator is Resurgens
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Orthopaedics and top industry donator is the health industry. Also, Attorney General Jeff

Sessions, a lawyer, receives most of his donations from the lawyers/law firm industry.

The way that politicians in America come to power would most definitely upset

Plato. First, Plato believed that Democracy was the second to worst government. His ideal

form of government, aristocracy, is ruled by people that are trained to rule. However, in

todays American democracy, people from all different professions have the ability to hold

a leadership position in government. In fact, there are no people in our society that are

specifically trained to rule the country. Our nation is ruled by what Plato would consider

craftspeople and auxiliaries.

Not only would Plato disapprove of how non-guardians rule the country, but also

the fact that everyone that is capable has a say in how the it is run. After examining the

lobbying system, it is clear to see that some politicians rise to power because of the certain

ideas and companies they represent. Those that get more funding are more successful.

Those that get funding from the most profitable industries are the most successful. These

organizations back the politicians whose ideas allow for the most success. Therefore, it is

not a stretch to say that the craftspeople truly run the country.

Plato would be extremely displeased if he witnessed how much influence the

craftspeople have in our government. The reason why he never wanted craftspeople in

positions of power was because of the nature of business. Successful craftspeople satisfy a

common desire of those they deal with. However, they are not concerned with the

repercussions. They dont experience the lasting effects of the deal except for the monetary

value they are given. Plato argued that this line of thinking was not good for public rule.

Businesses are not concerned with emotional and sometimes even health implications of
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the sales that they make. So long as they turn a profit, they consider themselves to be a

success. Plato thought that this selfish way of thinking would carry over into political

thinking.

With the lobbying today, it is clear to see that politicians look out for their own self-

interests. They may say that they do it for the people, but most of their income comes from

corporations and committees. This is exactly what Plato was against. This is why he did not

want the craftspeople to rule. He did not want those with selfish desires to rule over the

state. Plato knew that these desires would take precedent over the public good.
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Works Cited
Dooley, Kevin L. and Joseph N. Patten. Why Politics Matter: An Introduction to Politcal
Science, 2e. Cengage Learning, 2015.

OpenSecrets.org. Trump Administration Detailed Donations. 9 January 2017. 17 September


2017 <http://www.opensecrets.org/trump/appointee-giving>.