The Republic

The Role of the Guardian Class in The Republic

In Socrates’ unnamed thought-experiment of a city, as described by Plato, none of the social classes hold as much intrigue as that of the guardians. Appointed by Socrates as either militaristic defenders or leaders upon birthing, depending on which sub-sect the individual guardian belongs, they nevertheless enjoy less freedom and material satisfaction than those that they protect. However, the implication is that Socrates believes justness is at least partially derived from servitude and personal denial of conventional comfort- although the forced nature of both raises serious questions about the genuine veracity of the just nature of the guardians.

The most notable facet of the guardian establishment put forth by Socrates is their Smurfian, proto-Communistic social structure. The strict limitations and mandates put upon the guardians are also the most apparent structural anomaly, at least when viewed through the lens of our own culture and society. Socrates’ first assertion is that no guardian “should possess any private property, except as necessary.” By denying the guardian class their natural right to property, Socrates is likely forcing them to derive satisfaction from an apparently viable source of internal...

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