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THOMAS AQUINAS ON MONARCHY

 

Aquinas: Selected Political Writings, tr. J.G. Dawson (Oxford: Basil Blackwell; 1954), p. 11.

 

‘Monarchy the best form of government: The aim of any ruler should be to secure the well-being of the realm whose government he undertakes; just as it is the task of the helmsman to steer the ship through perilous seas to a safe harbourage. But the welfare and prosperity of a community lies in the preservation of its unity; or, more simply, in peace. For without peace a communal life loses all advantage; and, because of discord, becomes instead a burden. So the most important task for the ruler of any community is the establishment of peaceful unity. Nor has he the right to question whether or no he will so promote the peace of the community, any more than a doctor has the right to question whether he will cure the sick or not. For no one ought to deliberate about the ends for which he must act, but only about the means to those ends. Thus the Apostle, when stressing the unity of the faithful, adds (Ephesians, IV, 3) “Be ye solicitous for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” So, therefore, government is the more useful to the extent that it more effectively attains peaceful unity. For that is more fruitful which better attains its object. Now it is clear that that which is itself a unity can more easily produce unity than that which is a plurality: just as that which is itself hot is best adapted to heating things. So government by one person is more likely to be successful than government by many.’

 

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