Aristotle’s reflection on the political life and his preference for the republic as a form of government help us to understand the foundational importance of the rule of law. Commenting on Aristotle’s reasons for favoring a republican form of government, combining good features of both oligarchy and democracy, Monsignor Robert Sokolowski, renowned professor of the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., underlines the essential relationship between a stable political life and the respect for the norm of law. He writes:
In a republic, a large middle class – middle in both an economic and an ethical sense – is established between the rich and the poor, and the laws and not men rule, and they do so for the benefit of the whole city, not for any particular part. To live this way is a great human accomplishment. It is a truly exalted exercise of reason for citizens to allow the laws to rule, to have the strength of reason and character to subordinate themselves to the law, which they allow to rule for the benefit of the whole. Not all people have the civic habits and public vision to let the laws and not their own partisan interests rule over the whole; not all people are immediately capable of being citizens...
The stability of any society or government depends upon the education of the people in the civic virtues which respect the rule of law for the good of all.
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