One cannot contemplate Plato’s views on justice and the role of the state without examining broader topics in political theory as well. This predicament arises as a direct result of the fact that no one issue in the realm of politics is mutually exclusive. Often, there exists something of a domino effect where one issue leads to another, which in turn poses even more questions. Thus, themes such as management, individuality, morality, and equality must also be acknowledged in one’s deliberation.
In my mind, a state and its society function very similarly to a football team. While each player has his or her say in how a play should be executed, the ruler, or in this analogy the quarterback, ultimately makes the final decision for his followers. Additionally, each specific player, from the safety to the tight end, fulfills the tasks that they are best suited for.
As W.H.D. Rouse notes in his analysis of Plato’s works and philosophies, human beings associate with one another as a means of developing a certain level of reciprocity of support.
Because each individual has his or her own specific talents and abilities, tasks must be allocated in a manner that will best suit each individual. In turn, the maximum amount of efficiency will be achieved as a direct result of the fact that people will not be wasting their efforts on tasks that are more appropriately tailored to someone else’s capabilities.
That being said, there needs to be some form of official overseeing and directing to maintain a certain degree of not only efficiency, but also of safety and cooperation. Without some stable form of government in place to maintain potential problems such as poor working conditions or safety hazards, inadequate payment of employees, or unequal employment opportunities, the work force would be a much less welcoming and much more dangerous experience to undergo.
In addition, governments should always strive to maintain a certain level of morality, not only on a domestic scale, but on an international scale. Just like with workers at any place of employment, everything seems to run much more smoothly when there are good lines of communication and a mutual respect for one another. In terms of how honest a government should be with its citizens, however, details become a bit more debatable. Although a government should not have the right to do whatever it wants by any means it wants, it also does not need to disclose every single detail of every minute development.
In certain circumstances, a country’s citizens would be much better off not knowing exactly what is going on. Consider for instance, news coverage on the War on Terrorism. In order to avoid featuring all of the gore and the shock that viewers were exposed to in the Vietnam era, news stations were a bit more selective on what they displayed in their coverage on the war itself. Although civilians are given some details, they are spared the more gruesome ones not only as a means of protecting the government’s operations, but also as a means of protecting its citizens.
Ultimately, citizens need to elect government officials that are competent and qualified to maintain the level of justice they desire as well as the goals that they hope to achieve both domestically and internationally. Additionally, citizens need to understand that they need to work in cooperation with their friends and neighbors to achieve the maximum amount of efficiency possible.