Augustine was in fact always talking about changing things. His whole personal life is a witness to such change. In addition to being aware of Aristotle’s notion that we could change from a bad regime to one even worse, something Augustine would have had no trouble understanding, it was primarily a question of what to change first, oneself or one’s state. Indeed, it might be argued that Augustine has elaborated for us the most radical political philosophy possible by the very fact that he changed himself, changed himself, that is, as he tells it in The Confessions, by the grace of God, and, we might add, by the sharpness of his own insights into himself and others.  

 Augustine, in fact, does not deny the classical distinctions between the different forms of rule — monarchy, aristocracy, polity, democracy, oligarchy, and tyranny, together with mixtures of the same. Augustine does not deny that some forms of rule are better than others. Rome was better than Carthage, not to mention better than the invading barbarians, even though these latter barbarians eventually became Christians and good Romans.            Augustine’s advice for those caught in bad regimes is that the highest things are still possible for them but in the City of God. That is to say, there is not a one-to-one correlation between the final destiny of human beings and the sort of city in which they actually lived. Man is by nature a social animal, but the society to which he is destined is not a polity after the manner of existing cities. On the other hand, Augustine thought that right living and rightly ordered souls would inevitably produce a more prosperous and a more noble public order. In fact, in The City of God, he continually pointed out to the Roman politicians and philosophers that it was the Christians who were serving in the army and obeying the laws of the Empire. Thereby, the very backbone of the Empire depended not on the pagan Romans but on the virtue of the Christians.


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