On Some Fundamental Issues in 21st Century Political Economy
Chapter 13: Government and Change in the 21st Century
THE PROBLEM OF GOVERNMENT For Aristotle, different types of government will have different goals, hence governments themselves will have different characters. The government should most likely be ruled by people in the mean, the middle classes. Hence, there is a need for a stable government and society to have a large middle class. Moreover, just as one studies the choices made by individuals to know their goals or ends, one should study the choices made by various governments to come to know their goals or ends. The emphasis for Aristotle is not on the historical development of the state. Rather, it is on the different types of states, their forms and their goals. Governments in their true or natural forms will rule in the interests of their citizens. In their defective, corrupted, unnatural forms, governments rule in the interests of the rulers themselves. Since history is basically circular, there is always the tendency for good, natural governments to degenerate, to become corrupt, to turn into their bad unnatural forms. This is a problem. The good, natural state will help develop the capacities, the potentialities of its citizens. It will help citizens develop their excellences, so they can lead a good life, an excellent life, and not mere life or mere existence. Smith’s position, I argue,1 was in many ways close to that of a modern 20th century US liberal democrat in terms of the role of the government; nonetheless, I do not think he would necessarily be in favor...
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