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[1260b] [27]

And since we take for our special consideration the study of the form of political community that is the best of all the forms for a people able to pursue the most ideal mode of life, we must also examine the other constitutions actually employed by certain of the states said to be well governed, as well as any others propounded by certain thinkers and reputed to be of merit, in order that we may discern what there is in them that is right and expedient, and also in order that it may not be thought that to seek for something different from them springs entirely from a desire to display ingenuity, but that we may be thought to enter upon this inquiry because these forms of constitution that already exist are not satisfactory.

We must first adopt as a starting-point that which is the natural point of departure for this inquiry. There are three possible systems of property: either all the citizens must own everything in common, or they must own nothing in common, or some things must be common property and others not. To have nothing in common is clearly impossible for the state is essentially a form of community, and to begin with there is bound to be a common locality: a single city occupies a single site, and the single city belongs to its citizens in common.

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