If you've found a pertinent selection from a Shimer Core author, we'd love to post it. Email shimerspeaksout@gmail.com .

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Aristotle on the Lindsay Coup

The following selection is taken from the Jowett translation of Aristotle's Politics, Book V. The Politics is read in Social Sciences 2 at Shimer College.

As of oligarchy so of tyranny, the end is wealth; (for by wealth only can the tyrant maintain either his guard or his luxury). Both mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms. Both agree too in injuring the people and driving them out of the city and dispersing them. From democracy tyrants have borrowed the art of making war upon the notables and destroying them secretly or openly, or of exiling them because they are rivals and stand in the way of their power; and also because plots against them are contrived by men of this class, who either want to rule or to escape subjection. Hence Periander advised Thrasybulus by cutting off the tops of the tallest ears of corn, meaning that he must always put out of the way the citizens who overtop the rest. And so, as I have already intimated, the beginnings of change are the same in monarchies as in forms of constitutional government; subjects attack their sovereigns out of fear or contempt, or because they have been unjustly treated by them. And of injustice, the most common form is insult, another is confiscation of property.

We think that Aristotle would not have been surprised at the road that Thomas Lindsay has taken in his mismanagement of the college. In particular, Lindsay's ill-concealed plan to fire leading members of the faculty, who are of course also leaders of the community, is precisely in line with the Aristotelian description of tyranny.

No comments:

Post a Comment