Last month we talked about running a Small Medium Business (SMB/PME) when you fully own the company and employees are left with very little to say about you. Today we will study Book III of Aristotle's Politics about large groups of free people who assemble together to form a community. They start with a village, enlarge to a town, a city, a country, a continent, perhaps one day to the full World. These people have always understood that having a happy life requires some common commodities for security and transportation, education, health care, retirement age, etc. Of course in early times all neighbours would help each others in case of a house in fire, but understood easily that professional firemen are more efficient than occasional volunteers. This is the same reason why in your company you like to have people working within their expertise rather than occasional tasks where they lack of training and experience, even though they find it very funny or distracting.
Consequently these public “servants” (can they be enslaved?) must be paid, and administered by some people representing the community and therefore “governing” the organisation of everyone life. That's where Aristotle explains that there are three possibilities: one person, a few, or everyone. And two approaches for ruling: the common good, or the governing body interest (egoists leaders). I summarised in the following picture these 6 possibilities, but some wording needs explanation as the meaning was polluted during late Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Nowadays we see aristocrats like posh people very fond of themselves and feeling superior to others. Literally this is correct if you understand that Greek word 'aristos' means excellence through virtues, by opposition to vices. But these virtues, Latin word for Greek 'areti', are not just moral (or sexually connoted), they reflect skills, behaviour, intelligence, and purpose. Like the virtue of the eye is to see clearly.
For example as a student we expect our teachers to be a minimum virtuous but we don't realise that a school has literally an aristocratic management. Superior people govern lesser people, and everyone finds it appropriate for a school. They even have a Director above the teachers, an extra-superior person by whom you don't like to be summoned for a conversation. Think as well to the Catholic Church with the Pope, the Cardinals, the Bishops, and Priests. Believers appear to be much lesser fellows. So basically we don't hate having people superiors to us, we just hate when they feel too fond of themselves. We accept powers when they show some humility, not bragging. But humility has never been a kind of personality you can fake, play, because it's a matter of love and charity.
In Aristotle the difference between absolute monarchy and relative monarchy relates to the number of powers granted to the Lord, a King for him as he was quite phallocratic, but we can also have a Queen. Other powers are ruled by magistrates like for example a Parliament, or Courts. Unfortunately in companies we are often obliged to an absolute monarchy due by legal reason: in case of trouble this is generally the top management that is summoned by the Courts to respond of company's misbehaviour, and the rest of the time the shareholders prefer to deal with a single CEO than an Administration Council. The Strategic Monarchy was in place in Sparta: the king had little power except during wars when he lead the army. Fortuitously Sparta was very often at war with neighbours, causing economic difficulties and riots in the city.
What Aristotle named Democracy, in opposition to Plutocracy, was to define if the power was held by the large majority of poor people, or the small minority of rich people. Both wanted more money and freedom, notwithstanding their lack of skills or virtues. And the Republic (Latin word from French translation) is when anyone can participate to the ruling for the common good, each at a time. He says you can recognise someone who aims to become a Tyrant when he hires a personal guard of foreign mercenaries, and wondered if this the case of the Pope with the Swiss guards instead of the Temple Order. But clearly nothing can be administered without written laws that state the constitution, the powers of the rulers and the organisation of their election. You can have a ruling family, a public election, some people arbitrary designated, or a sudden coup or revolution. However the solution chosen doesn't depend on who takes the power, it is what is best suited for the population, what doesn't revolt them, what they want to keep.
My perception of companies, when I was hired and not ruling them, especially large global corporations, was of a kind of country inside the countries. The hierarchical tree was so large you couldn't see all the leaves, all the branches. But are we in real countries and cities ruled by a hierarchy, literally a power based on superiorities between people, with inferior people subordinated to higher ones, like in an army? Who is responsible for your behaviour when you are subordinated to someone else? Who respond of yourself? Imagine when asking to change your child of high school or university, you had to refer to your mayor, who would refer to the county governor, and then to a minister because your kid wants to study in a school at the other end of the state. Would such civil organisation suit you? What would be your liberties and freedom, your economic efficiency?
It is then interesting to consider modern forms of organisations, of constitutions, literally the way we are standing up, with matrix interconnections, thank to the new technological means of communication (mainly emails). The Latin word matrix means together the womb and a register. And there is a form of matrix in our biological constitution, as mammals. In Aristotle it is reflected by the laws stipulating certain powers hold by magistrates (Greek 'archon') and not by the lords (Greek 'kyrios' for Sir and 'kyria' for Madam), together with the organisation in Sparta and Crete of mandatory banquets where citizens had the opportunity to discuss together, and certainly about politics.
Of course there the risk of disloyal citizen, traitors, rubbers exists. People who don't want to earn their living honestly. But what percentage of the population does it represent? Instead if you give your citizen the desire to get something through some work, they will come and join. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote “If you want to build a ship, don't call your men and women to give them orders, to explain each detail, to tell them where to find each thing... If you want to build a ship, give birth to the desire of the sea in the hearts of your men and women.”
What is motivation but a desire to do? The key thing is then to instil aims and desires in the heart of people you want to lead, and know what they have in their hearts if you want to govern them. Nonetheless the question of the common interest for the best life, or the wealth increase of the ruling archons remains at stake.
Do they want a better job/life or a better salary?
International Business Controller. Chercheur en Sciences de Gestion. Ingénieur Systèmes d'Informations.