Saturday, July 5, 2014
The Middle Class: Aristotle vs. American Society
Written in April 2008 for a course on political theory,
Edited in July 2014
Aristotle believes that the middle-class is economically and morally moderate. The middle-class has property, and thus it is interested in politics, but those who have either excessive wealth or excessive poverty may become arrogant or malicious, and no longer able to obey reason or make wise decisions.
Aristotle abhors polarization and extremism. He idealizes a constitutional government. He says, “Where the middle class outweighs in numbers both the other classes, or even one of them, it is possible for a constitution to be permanent.”
He sees democracy as problematic, describing it as “rule by the many in their own interest.” He says that there should be direct participation of citizens in the affairs of the state rather than participation through representation. He believes that it is good for people to take turns governing, and that citizens should be willing to serve on juries.
Aristotle's conception of the middle-class is different from the American middle class in that American citizens are not often willing to serve on juries. Also, direct citizen participation in American government is much less common than people exercising political power through representation.