Unlike Plato, who dreamed of an authoritarian system of government ruled over by elite “guardians”, Aristotle said that there are 3 forms of government: rule by the one, rule by the few and rule by the many. But unlike today where we say one is better than the other, Aristotle said that there is a good and bad form of each. Indeed he said that the best form of government would combine all three types, which you could say representative democracy seeks to do to some extent. But the point relevant to this debate is that the ‘bad’ form of rule by the many according to Aristotle was called democracy, which he called bad because it creates a tyranny of the majority whereby the majority rules at the expense of the minority. The good form was called a polity, which would seek to include and account for all people, not just the majority.
But is such a notion – that of a polity – realistic? Or is it merely naive to think such a state of affairs truly possible?