Why does Aquinas Think That Monarchy is the Best Form of Government?
By first establishing the end of government and what it is, Aquinas establishes the supremacy of monarchy by comparing monarchy to tyranny. Before making the comparison between a monarchy and tyranny Aquinas situates monarchy in relation to five other political alternatives. He concludes that only monarchy can provide what is best for the communities well being.
Before bringing forth the six political alternatives to monarchy Aquinas discusses the end of government. The function of a government is to provide well being. It isn’t just about self-preservation but community united in fellowship. Fellowship is the single most important part in living in a community. Trust establishes peace. Peace is then the inner sense of well being. If a country were to divide it would be because of the breakdown of trust in the fellowship. This causes a domino effect, which causes people to not want to do anything such as work etc. You must rule towards peace to regain the trust of the people. We need to know the purpose of government, the purpose is to know what it is serving and what the people want and the people need. Aquinas develops a robust discussion on well being which brings in why tyranny is not the best form of government by a single ruler.
Aquinas states that there are six different types of regimes. The bad ones are the ones in which the private good of the ruler motivates, rather than the common good. Thus said, monarchy is the best. The five other regimes are oligarchy, aristocracy, democracy, tyranny, and polity. Every single one of these but the monarchy and tyranny is ruled to the common interest of the people. One person who decides the well being of the government, such as a monarchy, rules it. When we see a corrupt ruler come into power then that is when monarchy turns into tyranny because it does not become the well being and common good of the people is ignored.
A tyrant only does well for himself; it becomes what he wants not what the people may want or the good of the country. In this form of government there is no trust at all. There is a disunity within the state of the government when a tyrant rules. A tyrant does not take into account the common good of the people but rather the will and want of themselves. A tyrannical government is a divided one.
Finally, a monarchy is truly the best form of government. Only monarchy can achieve what is best for the communities well being. It is in the interest of the person that is becomes the well being of the community. When taken into account of synderesis, Aquinas sees that monarchy not democracy is the better form of government. It is something that is naturally known. Your conscience is a habit not a power, if you have no conscience then you cant learn good and evil from one another. Living under the rule of something is necessary.
In a democracy, the people rule, one does not rule for all. If chosen by the people they might not be true to the people. The person governing the country in turn then creates conflict within the people, disagreements. Should we then consider ending government overall? Aquinas then goes into saying that a mix of both democracy and monarchy is also possible. It becomes an aristocracy, although monarchy is still superior. Aristotle believed just like Aquinas that democracy is bad because it is the rule of the majority. We see this as well in Machiavelli’s The Prince. There is evidence in nature that there is one ruling nature in every organic thing.
We bring in polity, oligarchy, and aristocracy. Polity is when the military is in charge, they govern that the city or town. Rather than having a person rule it is a group of people and that is the best way to rule in a group. A group of men who all rule for the same purpose is this aristocracy. Finally an oligarchy is. An oligarchy in turn is to rule by only a few people rather than a group. All of these though are not the best forms of government.
This ultimately means that the form of government should be a monarchy. We know what is good and bad, a conscience, internal radar. Man has an understanding of things that are necessary. With a monarchy there are no obstacles that come in the way of the monarch’s rule.
With that said we have determined that the rule of one person is the best form of government but when turned into tyranny that is when it is bad. The common interest of the person must be with the common interest of the people. If they do not match up with the community then a tyrant will rise up. If there is a tyrant, Aquinas states, then it is okay to have some tyranny but to a certain extent. You have to tolerate the tyrant but to act on it would just create even more problems that in which it already is. A monarchy however is for the common good of the society. Although briefly stated by Aquinas, monarchy can have both the good and the bad occur, it is whether the ruler gives in to the tyranny.