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Plethon on eliminating the merchant class from government

Friday, 30 Jan 2015

Plethon on Staff and Scrip, Dr John Dunn First posted on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 21:37

Image: reputed to be of Plethon (c.1355-c.1452)

In his advice to the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, the philosopher Plethon recommended that the merchant class be eliminated from ruling positions, because their financial interests were incompatible with fair governance. Sounds like good advice to me. Pity no-one listened. We might have been spared endless war and catastrophic economic exploitation. Perhaps elimination should not be dismissed, even at this late stage.

Because he believed the safety of the state to rest on the allegiance of this soldier/producer class, Plethon advised reform of the bureaucracy to eliminate oppressive practices, such as the use of unfair weights and measures, and to eliminate the merchant class from ruling positions, their financial interests being incompatible with fair governance.
(From The Political Thought of Gemistos Plethon: A Renaissance Byzantine Reformer, by N. Patrick Peritore)

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