what is a philosopher? (471c–484b)
163means are there, if it
possible, to make it a reality? Obviously, if we assumed that a communist system of government were a reality,great beneﬁts for the country would result. I can even think of a fewyou haven’t mentioned. For example, the courage of soldiers ﬁght-ing a battle would be boosted by their feeling certain they’d neverbe deserted, because political fraternity and the practice of collectiveaction would make the word “comrade” have the same force forall of them as the old words “brother,” “father,” or “son” have infamilies. Furthermore, if women, as you suggested, were to take partin combat, either behind the shock troops, to strike terror into theenemy, or as reserves in case of some serious setback, or even on thefront lines, we’d become quite simply invincible. And I can also seethat, at home, provided such a system of government were in effect,all the country’s citizens would enjoy a thousand wonderful thingsyou haven’t said a word about. So, Socrates, since I approve of youraccount of the innumerable beneﬁts of our communism, let’s notdiscuss it any further. Let’s focus the whole argument now on thetwo unresolved issues. One: Is such a system of government possible?Two: If so, where, when, and how?
Socrates, caught off guard, set his glass down.
That was some surprise attack youjust launched on my argument! Don’t you ever grant extenuatingcircumstances to someone who’s hesitant? From the start of ourdiscussion I just barely escaped the devastating effects of a theoreti-cal tidal wave concerning my feminism; I drowned in another aboutthe family; and now here you are – granted, without realizing it– unleashing the most enormous and dangerous of all tidal wavesof this sort on me! Once you’ve witnessed it, you’ll be more thanwilling to grant me extenuating circumstances. You’ll understand myhesitations, my fear not only of putting forward such an extremelyparadoxical idea, but of completely defending it as well.–The more you try to dodge the issue, the less likely we’ll be to putup with your not telling us how our ﬁfth system of government cancome about in reality. So stop wasting our time: speak!–All right, I see. . . To begin with, we’ve got to remember that wearrived at this fateful moment because we were inquiring into whatjustice and injustice might be.–What’s that got to do with my question?–Nothing, nothing. . . But let’s suppose that we really have discov-ered, as we believe we have, what justice is. Do you think we’d stateas an axiom that the just man must not differ in any way from thisfundamental justice but must be entirely like it? Or would we settle