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A Critique of Democracy through Aristotle (and Plato)

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Jimmy Carroll C.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Comprehending democracy
  3. Aristotle: Five different types of Democracy
  4. Conclusion: The ideas of Aristotle and Plato

Democracy is defined today as ?a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.? In the time of Plato and Aristotle, there was a simple definition that was essentially ?rule of the people,? which is not far off from the modern day definition. However, in this ancient time, the government system of Democracy was something that was not held in high esteem by philosophers, scholars, and the like. In the following pages, I will analyze the reasons that both Aristotle and Plato thought Democracy to be a poor form of government, as well as explain the alternative forms of government that they believe would function more suitably. Upon completing the final paragraph, one will be able to understand how they viewed Democracy and why they believed it to be faulty.

[...] The last form of Democracy mentioned here, Aristotle said was susceptible to Demagoguery, where a popular leader can manipulate the view of the masses. According to Aristotle, Demagoguery is essentially government run like mafia. Because of this, the voice of the masses could essentially overcome the law. A leader in this form of Democracy is basically a tyrant who does what the people (and himself) want to do. Because he leads with the sound of the people, and because the word of the people is sovereign, the leader, or tyrant, can do what he pleases. [...]


[...] Although today's form of democracy is a lot different than the one that Aristotle and Plato had critiqued back then, there are still some things about today's Democracy that are similar. Although there is still, and always will be, a gap between the rich and the poor, Aristotle would still likely praise America's strong, working middle- class demographic, a main aspect of his Politeia that today's Democracy possesses, in which the ancient form did not. Today it is still essentially rule of the people,? but modernized with countless number of tweaks and adjustments made since Democracy's inception. [...]

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