Positive Despotism: An Account of Aristotle’s Beneficent Despot and M, Abdouh’s Just Despot
A personal despot is the “unlimited, unchecked, unrestricted totalitarian exercise of governmental powers, also a system of rule whereby the rights and liberties of individuals are ignored” (Raymond). A Personal Despot is a dictator or a tyrant by nature. This is basically what the definition state. However, some philosophers and thinkers believe that despots do not necessarily have to be unjust and totalitarian. Aristotle, one of the most influential political thinkers and philosophers came up with the idea of a Beneficent Despot. The argument basically states that this ruler is a despot, a totalitarian individual however; he can still benefit the state. Aristotle describes in details how the Beneficent Despot acts and how he maintain his authority in accordance to the state’s benefit and wellbeing.
The beneficent despot has a clear account of how much money he gets and how much money he spends of the state. The despot will shift from a role of a tyrant to a role of a “household” manager or a father of the state. Being the father of the state, a fear between citizens and the ruler does not exist. Aristotle believes that being a beneficent despot is a perfect position among despots and tyrants because he has the society in his hands. He controls the society, not with fear but with love and modesty. The beneficent despot imposes taxes on citizens to collect capotal for establishing public services-only for the state. Unlike a common personal despot who extorts money from his people and make them his. The money collected from taxes is a property of the public and the masses. According to Aristotle, a beneficent despot might also create a fund for emergency and strategic defensive plans in case a war occurs. This fund is only under the control of the despot, the money stays property of the people however. The beneficent despot portrays an image of kindness and humbleness. Traditional despots like the ones included in the opening definition usually have superior perception to spread fear in society. Citizens of the city should look upon the beneficent despot with admiration and respect, even though he is kind and down to earth. For any reason if the despot neglects any of the city’s obligations, no one should use it against him. He should be the ultimate source of power and sovereignty in the state. He should balance his humbleness with his superiority. The beneficent despot, according to Aristotle, should be seen all the time. For if the despot is observed in the city, transparency will increase between the citizens and the statesman. He should meet and talk to people all day. The despot is obligated to improve and flourish the city. By this point he can be called the guardian of the state not the tyrant. Another point that Aristotle stresses on is that in order for the beneficent despot to survive, the despot should be religious. Being religious, citizens will be less afraid from the guardian. They will trust him in not exploiting the masses. They will also know that the Gods will be on his side and this is very crucial because this will give an impression of righteousness. Citizens will never think of overthrowing him or revolting because he knows what he is doing right. The despot will also care about his lovers. As he will not extort property from business owners, he will not demise the honor of his followers because honor loving people are like property owners.
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- Mohamed El Nazer (Author), 2010, Positive Despotism: An Account of Aristotle’s "Beneficent Despot" and M. Abdouh’s "Just Despot", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/172849