Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Aristotle on Politically Correct Socialism of Ancient Crete

There was no laissez faire capitalism or system of individual rights in the ancient world, but collectivism and socialism were common. Hence, socialism is a reactionary system. In Book II, chapter 10 of Politics Aristotle reviews a number of socialist economic systems that were employed in the Hellenic world. One of the more politically correct was that of Crete. Here is Aristotle's description:

"The Cretan constitution nearly resembles the Spartan...in Crete... (of) all the fruits of the earth and cattle raised on public lands, and of the tribute which is paid by the Perioeci*, one portion is assigned to the gods and to the service of the state, and another to the common meals, so that men, women and children are all supported out of a common stock. The legislator has many ingenious ways of securing moderation in eating, which he conceives to be a gain; he likewise encourages the separation of men from women, lest they should have too many children, and the companionship of men with one another--whether this is a good or bad thing I shall have an opportunity of considering at another time. But that the Cretan common meals are better ordered than the Lacaedaemonian** there can be no doubt."

* According to Aristotle, "the subject population of Crete". The Spartans had colonized them. From Wikipedia: the name περίοικοι derives from περί / peri, "around," and οἶκος / oikos, "dwelling, house." They were the only people allowed to travel to other cities, which the Spartans were not, unless given permission. In other words, the subjects enjoyed greater freedom than their socialist conquerors.
**The Lacaedaemonians included the Spartans, the subject of the recent action film, "300". Notice that the more warlike culture of Sparta was socialistic, while the culture of Athens, the founder of western civilization, was closer to a free market system.

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