Aristotle’s “Best Regime”

Bates, Clifford. Aristotle’s “Best Regime.” Louisiana State University Press, 2003.


“The last decade of the 20th century  produced a boom in scholarship concerning Aristotelian political philosophy. This reawakened interest in Aristotle’s political thought, and the us all the new attention to the politics, seems due in part to the belief that liberal democracy needs a renewed link to the common good. This is needed to escape the trend to social apathy inherent in liberalism’s tendency towards moral individualism.  Many authors are attracted to the Aristotelian attempt to strengthen democratic principles by linking them to the attempt to form a just political community.

The recent collapse of the Soviet Union and other Marxist regimes around the world has been popularly understood to be a rejection of Marxism and Marxist political ideas. As Francis Fukuyama  argues, with Marxism removed, the conflict among differing ideologies seems to have been resolved with liberal democracy as the only survivor. Although this may be the political reality of the third millennium, many scholars  of political thought still find liberal democratic principles objectionable.

The opponents of liberal democracy see it resting on a rights-based theory that has no room for either the common good or justice. They reject liberal democracy on the grounds that it does not create genuine communities because of its excessive individualism. These opponents of liberal democracy, sometimes called “communitarians,” attempt to use Aristotle to support their criticisms. Yet I think the communitarians distort Aristotle for their own political purposes.”