Classification of Government by Aristotle


Government By Birth : One Man Rule, Monarch, Tyranny

Government By Wealth: Rule of Few, Aristocracy, Oligarchy,

Government By Number: Rule of Many, Democracy, Mobocracy

  • Government in the state could be constituted on the basis of birth, wealth and number.
  • The true spirit of the government is to promote not its own interest but those of the community of the state.
  • He classifies the government in three types:
  • Monarchy, Oligarchy (Rule of Few) and Polity (Rule of Middle Class)
  • In every government, there is a revolution goes on cycle of rotation.
  • No government is self sufficing. One man rule, unlimited monarch is against the principle of human equality.
  • Aristocracy is the rule of the few for the common good but it degenerates into oligarchy.
  • Polity is the rule of many middle class for the good of all but gets perverted into democracy and mobocracy which represents rule in favor of the many poor.
  • So Aristotle believes in the mixture of the democracy and oligarchy to create polity, a middle way between them where he finds the cure of the evils of various government.
  • That is the best government where population is controllable, constitution is sovereign and territory is free from external supremacy.
  • The three main functions of the government (deliberative, executive and judicial) should be performed in accordance with the rule of law, i.e., rule of reason.
  • Thus Aristotle emphasizes on Constitutionalism, value of public opinion, people’s final judgment on official actions, etc.
  • Aristotle locates the supreme power of states in people.
  • About law in the state, Aristotle believed in its necessity and sovereignty.
  • His pure states were the law governed states in which the rulers were essentially administrators and guardians of law.
  • Law was dispassionate reason and represented social experience and wisdom and social conscience.
  • Aristotle’s law includes custom also.