Monday, March 3, 2008

Communism's Comfort with Aristotle (and his Sexism)

Here are two recent observations on how Aristotle and communism work together:

1. Ben Rosen recalls his recent visit to North Korea. Rosen says:

"All cultural events end with tributes to the Dear Leader. A professor that our group talked with at the Grand People's Study House was asked to name history's greatest philosophers. His reply: among ancient philosophers, Aristotle; among contemporary philosophers, Kim Jong Il."

2. Tim Enloe reviews Aristotle's critique of Plato's Socrates' ideal communism. Enloe quotes:

indirectly first: "For the polis is naturally a multitude, but the less diversity that exists the more the arrangement approaches that of a single household (which, as seen in Book I) is under the dominance of a single person), and, at last, that of a single human being (Politics 1261a14-24)."

more directly (through translation) second: "Aristotle thinks that some of both - that is, some of common ownership and some of private ownership - is the best system for the polis: “they should be common in some sense, yet private generally speaking” (Politics 1263a27)."

Although Enloe does say a bit about how Aristotle's sexism is affected (i.e., Aristotle is not for public ownership of women as Socrates is, so it seems), Enloe does not discuss Aristotle's misogyny per se.

Similarly, Rosen briefly hints at the mystery of sexism in North Korea: "There, standing in the middle of a sea of men garbed uniformly in black was The Woman in Red. Who was she? Why was she in red? And why, after deplaning, was she nowhere to be seen? . . . The elegantly dressed guides in schools and museums [who are obviously women, make some of the] contrasting images of North Korea I remember."

No comments: