The Greek word ‘aristos’ means best and aristocracy is the government conducted by the best few. The criteria for choosing the best have been birth, wealth or intellect, etc.
Thus we find in history examples of aristocracy of birth or family, aristocracy of wealth, aristocracy of elders and statesmen, and also priestly or military aristocracies. In modern times aristocracy is identified with oligarchy, i.e., government by a group of self seeking manipulators.
In reality it is the government by the much few who conduct it for their own interests or their class interests.
Merits of Aristocracy:
1. It is Moderate and Conservative:
The chief merit of aristocracy is its conservatism. It is, therefore, more stable. It is able to pursue a consistent policy as it is not subject to popular passions.
2. It lays more stress on Quality rather than on Quantity:
Under aristocracy arts and learning receive greater patronage than that in a democratic form of government. The art of government requires a special aptitude and expert knowledge which are possessed only by a few.
Thus the government conducted by these few must necessarily be good.
3. It is a rule of the wise:
Government under Aristocracy is run by a selected few who are wise and capable for running a government on sound lines.
The decisions in such a government arc mature, correct and rational and surely not easily affected by popular passions and sentiments.