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[1318b] [1] either a decision must be made by casting lots or some other such device must be adopted. But on questions of equality and justice, even though it is very difficult to discover the truth about them, nevertheless it is easier to hit upon it than to persuade people that have the power to get an advantage to agree to it; equality and justice are always sought by the weaker party, but those that have the upper hand pay no attention to them.

There being four kinds of democracy, the best is the one that stands first in structure, as was said in the discourses preceding these1; it is also the oldest of them all, but by first I mean first as it were in a classification of the kinds of common people. The best common people are the agricultural population, so that it is possible to introduce democracy as well as other forms of constitution where the multitude lives by agriculture or by pasturing cattle. For owing to their not having much property they are busy, so that they cannot often meet in the assembly, while owing to their having2 the necessaries of life they pass their time attending to their farm work and do not covet their neighbors' goods, but find more pleasure in working than in taking part in politics and holding office, where the profits to be made from the offices are not large; for the mass of mankind are more covetous of gain than of honor. And this is indicated by the fact that men endured the tyrannies of former times, and endure oligarchies, if a ruler does not prevent them from working or [20] rob them; for then some of them soon get rich and the others free from want. And also, if they have any ambition, to have control over electing magistrates and calling them to account makes up for the lack of office, since in some democracies even if the people have no part in electing the magistrates but these are elected by a special committee selected in turn out of the whole number, as at Mantinea, yet if they have the power of deliberating on policy, the multitude are satisfied. (And this too must be counted as one form of democracy, on the lines on which it once existed at Mantinea.) Indeed it is for this reason that it is advantageous for the form of democracy spoken of before, and is a customary institution in it, for all the citizens to elect the magistrates and call them to account, and to try law-suits, but for the holders of the greatest magistracies to be elected and to have property-qualifications, the higher offices being elected from the higher property-grades, or else for no office to be elected on a property-qualification, but for officials to be chosen on the ground of capacity. And a state governed in this way is bound to be governed well (for the offices will always be administered by the best men with the consent of the people and without their being jealous of the upper classes), and this arrangement is certain to be satisfactory for the upper classes and notables, for they will not be under the government of others inferior to themselves, and they will govern justly because a different class will be in control of the audits—since it is expedient to be in a state of suspense and not to be able to do everything exactly as seems good to one, for liberty to do whatever one likes cannot guard against the evil that is in every man's character.

1 Cf. 4, 1291b 30-41, 1292b 25-33.

2 The MSS. give ‘not having,’ but editors do not explain how in that case people would avoid starvation.

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