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Single Idea 19829

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / d. Elites]

Full Idea

There are three sorts of aristocracy: natural, elective, and hereditary. The first is suited only to simple people; the third is the worst of any government. The second is the best; it is aristocracy properly so-called.

Gist of Idea

Natural aristocracy is primitive, and hereditary is dreadful, but elective aristocracy is best


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], III.05)

A Reaction

This seems like the modern idea of 'meritocracy'. The Chinese civil service exams, introduced into Europe in the nineteenth century.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.181