Answer to Question #199905 in Political Science for mahima

Question #199905

aristotle idea of revolution (800 words)

Expert's answer

Aristotle is a piquant thinker who tirelessly investigates all the aspects of any issue. His support for polity is undoubtedly based on his zeal for achieving stability in the political system. But he does not stop here.Although stability should be the sole aim of any constitution, in practice it is found that government’s rise and fallWe have to discuss what are the causes of change in constitutions, their nature and number, what are the destructive agencies that affect each constitution, and from what kinds into what kinds they generally change. We must likewise consider what factors make for the preservation of constitutions, both in general and of each king separately, and also by what means each of the types of constitution could best be preserved. The above comment made by him clearly reveals his intention as regards the change of constitution or government. He has discussed at first the general causes of revolution or change of constitutions.The synonym of the Greek word stasis is chaos or disorder or confusion. Interpreters of Aristotelian political thought have called it revolution. Aristotle has stated a number of causes which are generally held responsible for constitutional change or what is generally called revolution. Differing conceptions of justice and equality are regarded as one of the basic causes of revolution. He has said that in both oligarchy and democracy, the people differ about the ideas of justice and equality. They agree that justice is proportionate and privileges, opportunities and, above all, political power, should be distributed equally. But to what extent they are equal, that creates a difference of opinion among them.

All people think that by birth they are all free and have merit and desert. When some people are deprived of power, they hastily come to the conclusion that justice has not been done to them.

The existing system of distribution of power is the prime cause of injustice and inequality and, therefore, in order to bring about justice and equality the constitution should be changed.

Aristotle further observes that the notion of abstract justice and equality is a great enemy of stability. “Inequality is generally at the bottom of internal warfare in states.”

The nefarious mentality of certain people to harvest benefit or profit and dignity leads them to revolt against the establishment. Profit means economic profit. Dignity or honour is connected with political power.The desire to get these two things determines the course of action people adopt. It is also found that the loss of profit and status infuriates men and to compensate the loss they launch revolutionary movement.The third cause of sedition is a peculiar one. Aristotle discusses the point in the following way. Some owners of property and holders of honour instigate revolution by misusing their possession.Sometimes it is also found that the owners and holders become aggrieved on the ground that others are getting more and this is injustice. This feeling—right or wrong—provokes them. These people very often do not take part in revolution directly; they instigate other men by supplying men and material.A state consists of many parts any one of which may start growing bigger. In democracies and polities there is possibility of an increase in the number of citizens who are not well-off. In that case the newly emerged class starts an agitation against the establishment to get privileges, profit and status which the existing class is enjoying.

This cause of revolution or constitutional change is similar to the fourth cause—pre-eminence. The difference is partly one of degree. Pre-eminence refers to the relative superiority of an individual or a small group of persons; disproportionate increase refers to a whole class.

According to Aristotle the fourth cause of revolution is—when one or more men exercise excessive power out of all proportion to the state or to the power of the citizen body, revolution becomes inevitable. Some rulers or powerful persons give too much importance to dignity and honour. When they see others honoured and themselves degraded, soon they become revolution-minded. Aristotle says that monarchy or oligarchy emerges out of the revolution.

Fear and contempt are the fifth and sixth causes of revolution. According to Aristotle fear operates in two ways—those who have committed a crime look for overthrow of government, because they fear punishment. Fear of punishment leads people to revolution in the hope that they can escape punishment. Contemptuous attitudes also lead to revolution and civil war.

In oligarchies, when those who have no share in the constitution is the largest class, they deem themselves greater than the oligarchs and look down upon them. This attitude is also found in democracies, when the upper classes show their contempt of the disorder and inefficiency.

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