The Republic and Aristophanes the Birds

It is evident, by Plato’s The Republic and Aristophanes The Bird’s, that one’s vision of an ideal state is not the same mystical utopia.  Plato’s Republic is an well-ordered society that emphasizes the development of the community, which leads to its people believing in this philosophy.  Cloudcuckooland, the idea of two lazy Athenians, is an unorganized society that lacks the substance to make it a workable society.  I would much rather live in the organized Republic to the unorganized Cloudcuckooland.

The underlying philosophy of the Republic was based on the community and not the individual.  There are three classes in The Republic, one no more important than the other.  They are the Rulers, Auxiliaries or soldiers, and the rest of the people, such as Merchants, Carpenters, and Laborers.  What I especially like, is that the class one belongs to doesn’t have to do with the class of your parents, but more with what your aptitudes are.  This allows people to do what they are good at which usually translates into people being more productive for the community.  To keep this ordered, Plato has set up the Myth of the Metals.  The Myth of the Metals states that when people are created they have one of four different types of metals in them.  A person who has gold in them is destined to become a Ruler, a person who has silver in them is destined to become an auxiliary, and a person who has iron or bronze in them is destined to become a farmer or another worker.  It also adds though that just because one’s parents are both made up of iron doesn’t mean that their children will be made up of iron, they could turn out to be Rulers with gold in them.  This myth is important in keeping the society organized because it gives everyone a role in society, keeps them in place in that role, and lays out the hierarchy of the society.  Another way Plato has set up a more productive society, is to get every able bodied person to work, which includes woman.  Woman are treated the same as men and go through the same education processes.  Plato realizes that men and woman are the same except for a few different organs, so it makes perfectly good sense for them to be working also.  Plato’s plans for a more productive society go deeper then just getting more people to work, he wants to breed better citizens.  To do this, Rulers organize big breeding rituals where the Rulers choose the mates of different people.  These gatherings are used not only to satisfy sexual needs but also serve as ways of taking the dating game out of the peoples hands.  This is a great idea because when this is done people spend less time trying to find a mate and more time doing things that are more productive to the society as a whole.  Once a child is born, they are taught from a young age to be a model citizen, under Plato’s standards, which is critical to instill good morals and beliefs in every citizen.  This is accomplished by censoring what children hear and see.  In this way a child is taught only good morals, which leads to every one in the community having the needs of the community come before the needs of themselves.

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The beliefs and morals of the people of The Republic are beneficial to a society that put the community first.  First off there is no family ties, which will tend to weaken the bond one has to the community.  The community is each person’s family, so there is no special family bond developed between two people or a group of people, that would break the loyalty to the community.  This is represented by Plato’s description of justice in the state.  He defines justice in the state as everyone minding their own business, not interfering with others work, and doing what they are best suited for.  If everyone accomplishes this, the society will be successful and last forever, which is the ultimate goal of any society.  To keep people from messing up the Justice in the state, Plato has set up things like the Myth of the Metals and making Rulers Philosophers.  Making Rulers Philosophers is a good idea because the ideal ruler has similar traits to philosophers.  Philosophers have an ultimate love a knowledge, which would tend to make them less likely to become corrupt.  To also help keep the Rulers from being corrupt, the Rulers in the Republic can not own property or land.  This avoids most temptations of corruption and is perfect for keeping the Ruling class fair and focused.  In making Philosophers the leaders of this society, Plato has given his society the belief that absolute truth is divine.  Therefore there is no real piety but the people “worship” beliefs like the four cardinal virtues.  These virtues are wisdom, courage, discipline, and justice. Along with the Myth of the Metals, these virtues keep everything organized and in place, in effect serving as a religion.  This organization in the Republic is not represented in Cloudcuckooland.

Cloudcuckooland has absolutely no organization and would never work as a society.  Cloudcuckooland was created on a whim by two Athenians, Euelpides and Pisthetairos, who are escaping the hustle and bustle of city life.  They search out to find a place where they can live their days in peace and tranquility by absolving themselves from civic responsibilities.  When they don’t find this magic place, they simply decide to make it up.  They put absolutely no thought into their “society”, and just do things because they want to be powerful instead of wanting to create a successful “society”.  These old men escaped Athens because of their law system, politics, and military antics therefore they would have absolutely no desire to put any form of these things into their “society”.  With out these things there can be no order in a society because these are things that help keep an ordered society.  Without any form of law system one has no need to abide by morals that are considered to pertain to a civilized society.  Also with out any form of organized politics Pisthetairos, the ruler of this “society”, is free to do what ever he wants.  This sets up a huge potential for him to become corrupt, as he eventually does, and make Cloudcuckooland a hell.  Pisthetairos also has no idea what will happen to Cloudcuckooland if he dies, and I doubt that he cares what would happen.  He is content on just making things up as he goes along which is a ticking time bomb.  Eventually this “society” will fall into the ground because of its lack of order, so for me it was no hard choice to choose the society that is workable over the “society” that is destined to crumble. The Republic is a workable, ordered society in which everyone works towards the good of the community.  Cloudcuckooland on the other hand, is destined to become a failed society, because it is the creation of a man who’s only interest is himself.

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