Lorenzetti’s (1338) Allegory of Justice
What Medieval Italy can teach us about Good Government
As modern governments fail in spectacular ways, we may learn how to structure societies better from one curious source: medieval Italy. We tend to think of the medieval Europe as a barbaric and uneducated era of illiteracy and superstition. This stereotype is often made by people who have not taken care to study the wealth of wisdom and knowledge that medieval Europe contributed to the world.
Modern man is not free. If we really think about what is barbaric and illiterate, the average modern person can certainly read words, but hardly understands them. Modern man’s injustices go unpunished by a bloated bureaucratic anvil that makes justice inaccessible to him but for sale to inhuman corporations. His time is dictated by a job that won’t allow him to speak his mind or go on more than two weeks of vacation per year. He does not own his house. And he is naive if he believes he can contribute to the decisions of his state––democracy is a fairy tale to keep him focused on his bread and his circuses.
Entrepreneurship can free modern man somewhat, but only if the state allows him to keep his own money, as laws dictate how much of his hard earned money must be given to the state for causes he has no say in. To my readers living in “democratic” countries, how often does the government make a decision that you don’t agree with but you feel utterly powerless to change or influence? It’s quite interesting that we believe many of these things are normal. Human Beings are adaptable creatures and there’s nothing the ordinary person adapts to better than injustice.
But there is one answer to all of this, humbly hidden away in the lesser known Italian town of Sienna, where one man has described the crucial elements of a good society. While many essays have been written on the topic, I think it is interesting to look at an essay that has been written in image form, because the image, unlike the written word, is less corruptible.
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