The University of Twitter: Alain de Botton’s Course in Political Philosophy

Today on Twitter, Alain de Botton sent eight tweets, in reverse chronological order. The topic? A short course in political philosophy. Here are the tweets:

The University of Twitter: a short course in Political Philosophy in 7 parts:

1: Plato: We should be ruled not by leaders chosen by a majority, but by those who are most intelligent.

2. St Augustine: We should not try to build paradise on earth. Aim for tolerable government, true government only possible in the next life.

3. Machiavelli: Politician must choose between serving the interests of country and the interests of Christian morality. Can’t have both.

4. Hobbes: Rulers not appointed by God, but by people and if they can’t guarantee their security, they can be legitimately kicked out.

5. Smith: The market cannot alone create a moral community. Civil society must nudge capitalists to be good through emulation and honours.

6. Karl Marx: The ‘profit’ of a capitalist is in essence theft, the stolen life and labour of the proletariat.

7. J.S. Mill: Governments should not tell people how to live, they should give them the preconditions to make their own choices.

So if you wanted to brush up on your political philosophy but didn’t want to read a textbook (or lengthy Wikipedia entries, for that matter), enjoy the above.

You may also like the quotable Alain de Botton, from his The Art of Travel.