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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter V
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter V Post by :Creation Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :1975

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter V

s also the business of the legislator and all those who would
support a government of this sort not to make it too great a work, or
too perfect; but to aim only to render it stable: for, let a state be
constituted ever so badly, there is no difficulty in its continuing a
few days: they should therefore endeavour to procure its safety by all
those ways which we have described in assigning the causes of the
preservation and destruction of governments; avoiding what is hurtful,
and by framing such laws, written and unwritten, as contain those
things which chiefly tend to the preservation of the state; nor to
suppose that that is useful either for a democratic or (1320a) an
oligarchic form of government which contributes to make them more
purely so, but what will contribute to their duration: but our
demagogues at present, to flatter the people, occasion frequent
confiscations in the courts; for which reason those who have the
welfare of the state really at heart should act directly opposite to
what they do, and enact a law to prevent forfeitures from being
divided amongst the people or paid into the treasury, but to have them
set apart for sacred uses: for those who are of a bad disposition
would not then be the less cautious, as their punishment would be the
same; and the community would not be so ready to condemn those whom
they sat in judgment on when they were to get nothing by it: they
should also take care that the causes which are brought before the
public should be as few as possible, and punish with the utmost
severity those who rashly brought an action against any one; for it is
not the commons but the nobles who are generally prosecuted: for in
all things the citizens of the same state ought to be affectionate to
each other, at least not to treat those who have the chief power in it
as their enemies. Now, as the democracies which have been lately
established are very numerous, and it is difficult to get the common
people to attend the public assemblies without they are paid for it,
this, when there is not a sufficient public revenue, is fatal to the
nobles; for the deficiencies therein must be necessarily made up by
taxes, confiscations, and fines imposed by corrupt courts of justice:
which things have already destroyed many democracies. Whenever, then,
the revenues of the state are small, there should be but few public
assemblies and but few courts of justice: these, however, should have
very extensive jurisdictions, but should continue sitting a few days
only, for by this means the rich would not fear the expense, although
they should receive nothing for their attendance, though the poor did;
and judgment also would be given much better; for the rich will not
choose to be long absent from their own affairs, but will willingly be
so for a short time: and, when there are sufficient revenues, a
different conduct ought to be pursued from what the demagogues at
present follow; for now they divide the surplus of the public money
amongst the poor; these receive it and again want the same supply,
while the giving it is like pouring water into a sieve: but the true
patriot in a democracy ought to take care that the majority of the
community are not too poor, for this is the cause of rapacity in that
government; he therefore should endeavour that they may enjoy
perpetual plenty; and as this also is advantageous to the rich, what
can be saved out of the public money should be put by, and then
divided at once amongst the poor, if possible, in such a quantity as
may enable every one of them to purchase a little field, and, if that
cannot be done, at least to give each of them enough to procure the
implements (1320b) of trade and husbandry; and if there is not enough
for all to receive so much at once, then to divide it according to
tribes or any other allotment. In the meantime let the rich pay them
for necessary services, but not be obliged to find them in useless
amusements. And something like this was the manner in which they
managed at Carthage, and preserved the affections of the people; for
by continually sending some of their community into colonies they
procured plenty. It is also worthy of a sensible and generous nobility
to divide the poor amongst them, and supplying them with what is
necessary, induce them to work; or to imitate the conduct of the
people at Tarentum: for they, permitting the poor to partake in common
of everything which is needful for them, gain the affections of the
commonalty. They have also two different ways of electing their
magistrates; for some are chosen by vote, others by lot; by the last,
that the people at large may have some share in the administration; by
the former, that the state may be well governed: the same may be
accomplished if of the same magistrates you choose some by vote,
others by lot. And thus much for the manner in which democracies ought
to be established.
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter VI
What has been already said will almost of itself sufficiently show howan oligarchy ought to be founded; for he who would frame such a stateshould have in his view a democracy to oppose it; for every species ofoligarchy should be founded on principles diametrically opposite tosome species of democracy.The first and best-framed oligarchy is that which approaches near towhat we call a free state; in which there ought to be two differentcensus, the one high, the other low: from those who are within thelatter the ordinary officers of the state ought to be chosen; from theformer the supreme magistrates: nor should
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter IV A Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter IV

A Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter IV
e are four kinds of democracies. The best is that which iscomposed of those first in order, as we have already said, and thisalso is the most ancient of any. I call that the first which every onewould place so, was he to divide the people; for the best part ofthese are the husbandmen. We see, then, that a democracy may be framedwhere the majority live by tillage or pasturage; for, as theirproperty is but small, they will not be at leisure perpetually to holdpublic assemblies, but will be continually employed in following theirown business, not having otherwise the means of
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