Quote of the Day: Aristotle on Tyrants


In a sidebar column in the May 2022 issue of The Spectator World, I found this description of what Aristotle thought were the characteristics of a Tyrant.  The column is written by Peter Jones.

Seeing the turannos as a deviant type of king, Aristotle tested the distinction under four headings.  Was he subject to the law?  Did he rule for a set term, or for ever?  Was he elected?  And did he rule over willing subjects?  We may judge Aristotle’s answer from the image he drew of the tyrant as a master of slaves who, knowing that his subjects hated him, did everything in his power to ensure that they were incapable of moving against him.

First, therefore, the tyrant stamped on anyone exhibiting the slightest independence of mind, since “the man who rivals the tyrant’s pride and spirit of freedom robs the tyrant of his position of mastery, undermining his authority.”

Second, because tyrannies were ended “when people come to trust each other, command confidence among themselves and others, and do not inform against one another,” he must “make war on decent, upright citizens” and “set them against each other,” creating a culture of fear, suspicion, and mistrust.

Third, he must ensure the destruction of any power bases that might challenge his authority: so “clubs and societies must be closed down together with all places where men pursue learning together,” for they are the “breeding-grounds of independence and courage.” As for the people, “their attention must be diverted from plotting“, so they must be kept “poor and fully occupied in making a living or else fighting in wars, to be successful in which requires them to look to their leader.”

Finally, the tyrant had “no public interest except what is conducive to his private ends” and that was acquiring the riches that would enable him to stay in power.  As a result, the tyrant was wary of honest, candid friends “on the grounds that they more than anyone have the power to do what his enemies merely wish.” So only “toadies and flatterers” had access to him.

The subject of Mr. Jones’s column was Vladimir Putin.  However, doesn’t that extended description of a tyrant’s behavior bring to mind someone a little closer to us all?  Why does that sound like a description of Biden’s America?

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  1. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring

    More proof of why we need a return to classic liberal arts education.

    • #1
  2. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa

    In Trump’s America, Trump was: 1) subject to the law; 2) served for a set term; 3) was elected without controversy (election outcome not brought to the courts, and Hillary conceded early but with good reason); 4) citizens prospered in 2019 with record low unemployment for blacks and minorities, but he made his opposition look really bad, including foreign heads of state (China). Ergo, Trump was no tyrant.

    The quote sounds like America under the unconstitutionally installed Biden regime because Biden and his cronies have acted like tyrants: 1) family criminal dealings not subject to rule of law; 2) and 3) questions outstanding on the validity of selection of electors from multiple swing states not in accordance with the US Constitution, plus multiple states with allegations of sufficient ballot fraud to swing outcome is other states but cases not reviewed on the merits by the courts as is their charge, and recently in the State of Delaware declaring mail ballots illegal, these points question the legitimacy of serving at all; 4) unpopularity of the current occupant is at a low among all US presidents and the occupant resorting to political use of the federal investigative police force and department of justice to investigate and repress the speech of its political enemies.

    It is alleged by multiple parties that the current occupant administration receives direction from outside the office of the president. Even if this were to be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt, there is no doubt that Biden is acceding to these inputs, and it makes him no less of a tyrant. What is he going to say, “I was only following orders?”

    • #2
  3. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert


    Why does that sound like a description of Biden’s America?

    Because it is…

    • #3
  4. DaveSchmidt Coolidge

    Also sounds like the administrations of towns, cities, public schools, colleges, and universities.  

    • #4
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