The Politics: Monarchies, Aristocracies, and Polities

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Throughout Politics, Aristotle goes into detail about monarchies, aristocracies, and polities, as the ideal forms of government. Polity as defined by Aristotle is the virtuous form of a constitutional democracy (Aristotle viewed democracy without constitutional law as a poor form of government). It is essential to a state in which polity is the system of rule that there is a constitution in place to prevent the excesses of majority rule. Although Aristotle perhaps believed polity to be the most realistic form of a virtuous government, he did not view is as the most ideal. According to Aristotle, monarchy is the idealist form of government, followed by aristocracy and polity. Despite this, Aristotle yields that monarchies and aristocracies are also more likely to degrade into undesirable states, such as tyrannies or oligarchies (Baldwin 2012). Therefore, it is fair to say that Aristotle’s ideal form of government is monarchy, despite its flaws, yet the most realistic form of a virtuous government can be found in a state governed by a constitutional democracy (Wilson 2011).

Aristotle’s view of the ideal form of government, an absolute monarchy headed by a man of excellent character and wisdom, is theoretically sound. Unfortunately, men of such character are a rarity; even rarer so, is it that such a person will actually become the king of a state. In addition, the threat of turning into a tyranny makes monarchy all the more risky (Samaras 2007). An aristocracy, if perpetually ruled by men of excellent virtue, would also be a form of government perhaps favorable to polity. However, all too often aristocracies favor law that benefits the rich and runs the risk of devolving into an oligarchy. Polity, or a constitutional democracy, is a system of government where the middle-class is the primary group of rulers. At its worst, polity can devolve into democracy without law, or mob rule, which is still preferential to tyranny and oligarchy. At its best, polity is rule by the middle-class which does not require men of outstanding virtue (unlike a lawful monarchy or aristocracy), for the better of the state as a whole. Therefore, in practice the ideal form of government is neither a monarchy nor aristocracy. Instead, a constitutional democracy, such as one the United States of America boasts, similar in fashion to Aristotle’s polity, is the best form of governme...

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...r, it is the best form of government for both short-term and long-term stability.

Works Cited



Aristotle. Politics. Sioux Falls: NuVision Publications, 2004. Google Books. Google. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. .

Baldwin, Richard. "Aristotle, Ethics." Aristotle, Ethics. Gulf Coast State College, 17 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. .

Biondi, Carrie-Ann. "Aristotle on the Mixed Constitution and Its Relevance For American Political Thought." Stjohns.edu. Social Philosophy & Policy Foundation, 2007. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. stjohns.edu

Kalyvas, Andreas. "The Tyranny of Dictatorship: When the Greek Tyrant Met the Roman Dictator." Political Theory 35.4 (2007): 412-42. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. .

Samaras, Thanassis. "Aristotle's Politics: The City of Book Seven and the Question of Ideology." Classical Quarterly 57.1 (2007): 77-89. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. stjohns.edu

Wilson, James Lindley. "Deliberation, Democracy, and the Rule of Reason in Aristotle's Politics." American Political Science Review 105.2 (2011): 259-72. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. stjohns.edu
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