The Best Governors Are the Middle Class

The government you end up with is determined by what point on this scale your polity equilibrates. —Justin Allred 

x-axis: high trust<->low trust
y-axis: distributed political agency<->concentrated political agency

Monarchy – Tyranny
Aristocracy – Oligarchy
Polity – Democracy


—“Does Aristotle deem monarchy to be the best form of government?”—

by Andy Mansfield, DPhil, former academic, teacher and author.

Aristotle discussed the six forms of government, the correct form and its deviant counterpart:

Monarchy – Tyranny
Aristocracy – Oligarchy
Polity – Democracy

However, monarchy was not the best form. F. Miller provides the answer to your question in ‘Aristotle’s Political Theory’ taken from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2011):

‘Although his own political views were influenced by his teacher Plato, Aristotle is highly critical of the ideal constitution set forth in Plato’s Republic on the grounds that it overvalues political unity, it embraces a system of communism that is impractical and inimical to human nature, and it neglects the happiness of the individual citizens (Politics II.1–5). In contrast, in Aristotle’s “best constitution,” each and every citizen will possess moral virtue and the equipment to carry it out in practice, and thereby attain a life of excellence and complete happiness (see VII.13.1332a32–8). All of the citizens will hold political office and possess private property because “one should call the city-state happy not by looking at a part of it but at all the citizens.” (VII.9.1329a22–3). Moreover, there will be a common system of education for all the citizens, because they share the same end (Pol. VIII.1).

If (as is the case with most existing city-states) the population lacks the capacities and resources for complete happiness, however, the lawgiver must be content with fashioning a suitable constitution (Politics IV.11).

The second-best system typically takes the form of a polity (in which citizens possess an inferior, more common grade of virtue) or mixed constitution (combining features of democracy, oligarchy, and, where possible, aristocracy, so that no group of citizens is in a position to abuse its rights).

Aristotle argues that for city-states that fall short of the ideal, the best constitution is one controlled by a numerous middle class which stands between the rich and the poor.

For those who possess the goods of fortune in moderation find it “easiest to obey the rule of reason” (Politics IV.11.1295b4–6). They are accordingly less apt than the rich or poor to act unjustly toward their fellow citizens.

A constitution based on the middle class is the mean between the extremes of oligarchy (rule by the rich) and democracy (rule by the poor).

“That the middle [constitution] is best is evident, for it is the freest from faction: where the middle class is numerous, there least occur factions and divisions among citizens” (IV.11.1296a7–9).

The middle constitution is therefore both more stable and more just than oligarchy and democracy.’
Matt Stewart, B.A. Literature, History, and Philosophy

No- the best government was the one best suited to the people and culture that are to be governed and which allows its citizens to flourish. Aristotle understood that different nations with different values function differently; whatever system of government allows a particular nation to function correctly and flourish is the best form of government for that particular nation. The Persians flourished under a monarchy, and the Athenians flourished as a democracy. The two states had very different forms of government, yet each flourished in its own way. A properly functioning government is one which incorporates and reflects the values and interests of its people. That is the long and short of Aristotle’s view on government.

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