The 9 Rules Of Democracy Proposed By Aristotle

The incursions of philosophy into the field of politics have more than two thousand years of history.

If Plato became known for relating his theory of ideas to a model of political organization based on an iron hierarchy, His disciple Aristotle was not far behind him, and proposed a series of democratic principles which, according to him, were necessary so that the voice and interests of the people could shape the important decisions that were made.

This series of proposals are known as the 9 rules of democracy according to Aristotle.

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The context: the democracy of Athens

Of course, The democratic standards of Ancient Greece are not very similar to those that prevail today in most Western industrialized countries. Although the Athenians are considered to be the fathers of democracy, at that time only rich families could be represented. The majority of the population, which included slaves, women and minors, as well as people considered foreigners, had no voice or vote.

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Furthermore, this model of democracy was by no means widespread throughout Greece. The Spartans, for example, placed much more emphasis on the need to function as a large military camp than on the virtues of political representation.

The sophists

This is the context in which Aristotle wrote his texts on politics; In Athens, some people went by lottery to places of political representation in which a few dozen people debated. The part that managed to convince the rest won, and that is why for certain wealthy families, philosophy was reduced to a game of rhetoric in which the way in which something was said was more important than the content of that message.

That was why rhetoric experts proliferated in Athens, the so-called sophists, who They instructed whoever paid them in the art of convincing otherssomething that was considered an investment to gain power of influence.

Both Socrates and Plato showed their total rejection of this conception of philosophy so based on relativism, since they understood that the truth did not change depending on who paid for the defense of certain interests.

The system of politics developed by Aristotle

After these two philosophers, Aristotle did not place as much emphasis on the need to access a universal and absolute truth regardless of the consequences this had, but he did believe it was important establish a series of rules so that democracy was as perfect as possibleavoiding the risks of corruption and rhetorical tricks.

This series of Aristotle’s rules of democracy were written in his book Policyand they are the following:

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1. Choose all the magistrates among all

Aristotle understood that politics affects everyone and that therefore everyone should have the right to influence politics.

2. Let everyone rule over the individual and let the individual rule over everyone

This fit between collective and individual interests was considered essential so that democracy did not have blind spots.

3. That public positions be appointed by lottery

This Greek philosopher believed that, where possible and where the need for technical knowledge was not an obstacle, positions should be chosen by lot to avoid influence peddling.

4. That a person cannot hold the same position twice

Aristotle believed that this rule of democracy was fundamental so that certain positions did not remain entrenched, which would cause the person’s personal interests to mix with the political objectives they pursue.

5. That the same person only holds a public office at the same time

This rule, which had the exception of people dedicated to the protection of the city through the army, could serve as a primitive model of separation of powers.

6. That public positions are short-term

This was necessary, once again, so that the personal interests of politicians did not interfere too much with their political role.

7. That elected officials administer justice

The idea of ​​justice had to be above political objectives and specific strategies, for the good of the population as a whole and to avoid setting precedents of injustice.

8. Let the assembly of the people have power over all things

The fundamental decisions had to come from the sovereignty of the people, not from the decisions of a few people.

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9. That no public office be for life

This was necessary to prevent gaps from appearing between the power of public officials and the rest of the population. If there are lifetime positions, they could take any unfair measure, given that they are guaranteed extra power throughout their lives and therefore would not have to pay the consequences.