A Brief Summary of Plato's Ideal State
The good life is possible only in and through society (State). Society is a natural institution. Man is essentially a social and political animal. The State exists for the sake of the good life. Now according to Plato, the aim of the good society is neither freedom, nor economic well-being. Rather, the aim of the good society is justice. A true State, therefore, must be conformed to justice (the Ideal of which exists in the World of Forms). And so the state does not decide what is just. Justice is an object of knowledge, that is, it is one of the forms. That is why the Statesman must be a Philosopher. If not, he will only lead the state downwards toward self-destruction. Justice in the state is analogous to justice in the individual, and the state must be structures after the pattern of justice in the individual. Now the soul has three parts, according to Plato:
Justice in the individual exists when the lower appetites are subject to governance of reason. This is the state of peace or pax (harmony), and peace in the city state is analogous to peace in the individual. Recall Socrates' self-rule. Freedom means knowing what we ought to do (wisdom), and having the ability to do what we ought to do. In other words, it is only when the appetites are subject to reason that I can do what I ought to do. The unjust man cannot control his anger, or moderate his passion for money, etc. So, for Plato, justice is a kind of order, a harmony between reason and the appetites. A just man will not allow his anger to move him to do something that is irrational. In this way, only the just man is truly free. So too, only the state that is just is truly free.
Thus, the just state looks like the following:
Points to Note
Censorship is necessary in the context of education. For the good of the State, all poetry and drama that depicts the gods as indulging in gross immorality (violating oaths and treaties) will be censored. The notion of an absolute right to free artistic expression is, for Plato, absolute nonsense.
Education: must be for everyone. Education in morality and philosophy is the most important (the true and the good). This will be most conducive to the good society.
Private Property: Auxiliaries must possess no private property, but receive all necessities from their fellow citizens. They are never to handle gold and silver. If they are allowed to begin amassing property, they will very soon turn to tyrants.
Community of Wives and children: In the two upper classes, there is to be no private ownership and no family life. Marriage relations of citizens of these classes should be under the control of the State. Family and private property are not to be abolished on the artisan level.
Wisdom (Prudence): The wisdom of the State resides in the small class of rulers or Guardians.
Fortitude (Courage): The courage of the State resides in the Auxiliaries.
Temperance: The temperance of the State consists in the due subordination of the governed to the governing.
Justice: The justice of the State involves the harmony of all the parts (classes). Everyone attends to his own business without interfering with anyone else's.
An individual person is just when all the elements of the soul (concupiscible appetite, irascible appetite, will, intellect) function properly in harmony and due subordination of the lower to the higher. So too, the State is just (a just society) when all the classes and individuals in them perform their due functions in the proper way.