There are different types of governments that exist in a society. The distinct government arises from the prevailing characteristics of the society. According to articles by Aristotle and Niccolò Machiavelli, wealth distribution is a crucial factor in determining the resulting style of governance adopted in a country. This paper will explore excerpts from the two authors and limelight the differences in ideas on how wealth plays a role in defining a government. In addition, a contemporary analysis of American wealth distribution will be conducted, and inferences will be drawn in comparison to the ideas of Aristotle and Niccolò Machiavelli.
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According to Aristotle a nation can be narrowed down into a family; which give rise to a village, a community and later a nation. Depending with the population being governed, leaders will be ascribed to titles such as master, managers, statesman or kings (“Ancient History Sourcebook” 2012). These titles, especially statesman and king, have the impression of the nature of the population that is being governed. Aristotle holds that statesman will be used while addressing the leader who follows the principles and ethics of politics. On the other hand, a king qualifies a leader that uses his personal principles in governing his followers (“Ancient History Sourcebook” 2012). In this respect, statesman is the most preferred in a democratic context. The society structure has an incredible influence on the form of government. According to Aristotle, a society can be categorized into three classes, the lower, middle, and the upper class. The classification of is dictated by the wealth possession. The upper class comprises of the affluent population while the lower class is dominated by the indigent population. The middle, which he regards as mean group, is a balance between the two classes.
Aristotle is of the opinion that the mean (middle class) group has to dominate the society for a democratic republic to exist. Having a large group of the middle population will maintain a balance between the upper and the lower class. The differences in the wealth distribution determine the differences in the policies, ambitions, and direction that the classes may wish to see implemented. In this context, a balancing force among the mean group is crucial to neutralize the differences between the upper and the lower class of individuals. Having the largest population, in the society, being in the middle group will help in mitigating continuum extremities; thus forming a democratic republic (“Ancient History Sourcebook” 2012).
Off-setting this balance and having one of the extremities dominating the society will favor the policies inclined to that group. Consequently, the society will be in a quagmire. The rich will compete with the poor to gain favor, and this will result to oppression, roguery and corruption, in cases where the rich are in a large number that the poor in the society. Similarly, a nation where the lower group has the numbers, conflict and violent crime engraves in the nation destabilizing democratic rule. Consequently, the nation will be described by oligarchy governance.
Niccolo Machiavelli had a different approach from that of Aristotle on how wealth distribution may affect determine the type of government in a nation. According to him, a society is classified into two groups, the rich and the poor. The rich dominates the society and will act as the drivers of the nation where the poor have to follow. The dominating group among the two classes dictates the policies in the society and how they will be implemented. Unfortunately, the lower class never climbs to the top platform of leadership and is reduced to religiously conforming to doctrine, regulation and prescriptions of the rich. However, according to Niccolo Machiavelli, democratic leadership will only prevail in a society where equality and just, in wealth distribution, have no hindrances. Consequently, a balance between the poor and the rich must exist to have a democratic republic (“Medieval Sourcebook” 2012).
According to Niccolo Machiavelli, equity in the society enables the citizens to coexist in harmony without cases of discrimination or oppression. The society has to be void of “gentlemen” whose work in the society is to drive the poor (slaves) and creating more wealth while the literally do nothing. Machiavelli expresses concern that in a nation where gentlemen dominate the leadership or a population, the resultant government no longer exercises democratic leadership (“Medieval Sourcebook” 2012).
A society where equity does not prevail; thus, wide gape of the continuum, gentlemen will dominate. There will be poor distribution of wealth and the society will be reduced to leaders who have dogma followers. The resulting government will be a kingdom; where leader (king) governs on a personal panorama.
Aristotle and Niccolo Machiavelli exploration of the topic of the democratic republic opens a new door for the contemporary researcher to examine the existing leadership structures in different countries. A commonality in the both Aristotle and Niccolo Machiavelli focus of the democratic republic lies in the weight laid on wealth distributing as a defining factor in governance. It is in this vein of wealth distribution that interest in analyzing American democracy ensues. Wealth, in this context, refers to the value of marketable assets while financial wealth refers to net worth minus net equity in owner-occupied housing (Domholf 2012).
According to the Domholf, 2012 report, wealth distribution in America illustrated a good example of inequality in a society. The distribution of both wealth, in general, and financial wealth is highly concentrated to a few people in America. Recent statistics revealed that 34.6% of the American wealth is in the hands of 1% of the America population. In the same vein, about 19% of the next generation in the rank owns up to 50.5% of the country’s wealth while the last group of Americans constituting of 80% possessed roughly 14.9 percent. These statistics reveals the extent of inequality in the distribution of wealth, in American
In an Aristotle’s view, the American population is in disagreement with the democratic republican should be structured. A lot of wealth is concentrated to a few individuals in the upper class while the society is bloated with poor individuals. The “mean group” owns a lot, yet significantly minimal in numbers. Therefore, balance meant to be established by the middle class cannot exist in America since the wealth in one side of the extremities. Similarly, Niccolo Machiavelli theory is off balanced by the American wealth distribution. The America population can be categorized into two groups where twenty percent of the population enjoys over 85 percent of the country’s wealth, leaving a large population of American scrambling for a share in the less than 15 % of the country’s wealth. There is no equality in wealth distribution, which is a vital factor in democratic governance according to Machiavelli. Consequently, American governance cannot be termed as democratic republic from a perspective of the two theories.
According to a study conducted by Michael Norton and Dan Ariely (Belsky and Gilovich, 2012), wealth distribution has eminently affected policy formulation, ramification and implementation in America. The concentration of wealth in the hands of few American, who also happen to direct the political atmosphere, leaves the poor American to the civil war and activist for their rights. The lobbying power for the American in Washington is affected by this inequality.
In conclusion, wealth distribution determines the power to govern and the impact of these policies to the people affected by the leadership. Having a democratic government is benched on the societal structure. Off-setting the balance in wealth distribution will consequently hinder the possibility of having a democratic republic.
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