Thursday, September 08, 2005

PLATO: BOOK ONE

Is justice the will of the stronger? In my opinion, justice is absolutely the will of the stronger. If the stronger individual in an argument (stronger physically, mentally, financially etc) really wants to get his or her way then they without a doubt will overpower the weaker. However, a physically stronger individual will not always “win” when arguing with a mentally stronger person. Strengths come in different ways. The physically stronger person would undoubtedly win in a fistfight, but the mentally stronger person would probably leave the mentally weak stammering.In The Republic of Plato by Allan Bloom Thrasymachus mentions to Socrates “And you are so far off about the just and justice, and the unjust and injustice, that you are unaware that justice and the just are really someone else’s good, the advantage of the man who is stronger and rules, and a personal harm to the man who obeys and serves.” (Bloom, 21.) Here he talks about the fact that a stronger man will take a just situation and, perhaps even unintentionally, but simply by following his own self-interest, make that situation unjust. A weaker man may be perfectly just, however, he may end up living an unjust life because he cannot stand up to the stronger man, and therefore cannot overturn the stronger man’s idea of justice.It is clear from the first book of The Republic of Plato that every person has a different idea of what justice is. Since there is no universal definition of justice the justice that the “masses” have to consume is the idea of justice that whomever is in the highest position of power (ideally the strongest individual) has. However, this stronger individual, as explained by Thrasymachus, will more than likely choose a definition of justice that benefits his personal interest.Justice as the will of the stronger is evident in such recent events as the Michael Jackson trial, or the OJ Simpson trial a few years ago. Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson are financially strong individuals with the resources to hire mentally strong lawyers. Who knows what true justice was in these cases. However, because they were capable of presenting the strongest arguments they were able to skew justice and convince the jury that they, in fact, were innocent. These are examples of individuals using their strengths to create a justice that perhaps not all of us believe, but that because of the systems in place we are all forced to accept.It seems that also in politics whomever has the strongest political machine, which is the result of having the most funding, gains the most power. These powerful individuals then spread their definition of justice to the population and regardless of what the population believes as their personal definition of justice because they are in a weaker position they are forced to accept the definition of the stronger. For example, my Uncle Ronald, who is gay and is legally married (in Canada) to my Uncle Alex (his partner) may have to move out of the United States because his partner Alex is from Canada and can’t get a permanent visa to the United States because the marriage between Alex and Ron doesn’t count as a true marriage. This is not their, nor my idea of justice. However, because it is just in the eyes of the President, who is in the highest position of power, and therefore the strongest, it is the “justice” that we have to accept.Currently I am quite concerned about the Supreme Court, which is the ultimate justice making organization. Although we’re supposed to have checks and balances imbed into our governmental system President Bush and his cronies will have the true say in who sits upon the court and, therefore, the definition of justice the country must swallow. Although there are some of us who are opposed to this definition, we are forced to accept it.At least, we are living in a democracy, where we are free to protest definitions that we do not accept. We have the freedom of media which allows us vibrant discussion of different views on justice. Although these protests often bear fruitless results they bring attention to potential injustices and help us keep the definition of justice that our “power figure” has in check. Take a look at the Arab world where religious fanatics want to stifle any questioning of their definition of justice, people want to be able to speak out and have the right to question and disagree with the ideas of those in power. Sometimes the “weak” are not as weak as they appear. As Margaret Mead is famous for saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”

1 Comments:

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