Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Terrible Tyranny of the Majority

The title is taken from Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451.  Unless otherwise noted, all identified quotations are sourced from here.

Here is the majority in action:

Taxing the rich remains a popular policy with the American people, according to a new poll by The Washington Post and ABC News.

Because it is determined by majority, this makes it appropriate?  It seems at least one authority thinks not:

Exodus 20:17: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Recently, Ron Paul identified the issue of envy as one of the two key human emotions that must be overcome if we are to have any sense of liberty and peace on this earth:

To achieve liberty and peace, two powerful human emotions have to be overcome. Number one is "envy" which leads to hate and class warfare.
― Ron Paul

Why speak of coveting and envy in a commentary about tyranny?  It is because envy is the root, the seed that gives life to the tyranny of the majority.  Democracy satisfies this covetous nature while sanitizing the evil – creating a false legitimacy to the end result of envy, that being theft and destruction.

Envy: a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.

Covet: to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: to covet another's property.

One cannot speak of “the rights of others” absent the rule of law.  The concept of “rule of law” is meaningless unless at its root is property rights.  Without protection of private property, what is the point of any formal structure known as government?  It can only otherwise be theft and destruction, driven by envy and covetousness.

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.
― Thomas Jefferson

There is no rule of law in democracy – it ends up as rule of the majority against the minority.  Consider this desire to tax the “rich.”  What if the majority had other objectives in mind?

Sixty percent of poll respondents said they supported higher taxes on annual incomes above $250,000, with 37 percent opposed.

Sixty percent of poll respondents said they supported disallowing medical care on people over 68 years old, with 37 percent opposed.   

Why not?

Policymakers in Washington are locked in a debate over weather [SIC] to increase the top marginal tax rate on incomes above $250,000, with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats insisting the rate return to 39 percent and Republicans saying it should stay at 35 percent.

Policymakers in Washington are locked in a debate over whether to increase the age where health care will be disallowed, with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats insisting on the age of 69 and Republicans saying it should be at 65 years of age.  

 Or 58, maybe?

Of course, the aim of a constitutional democracy is to safeguard the rights of the minority and avoid the tyranny of the majority. (p. 102)
― Cornel West, Race Matters

I expect the advocates of minority rights to speak loudly and strongly against the abuse of the minority by the majority in this case of taxation.  I’m still waiting….

People use democracy as a free-floating abstraction disconnected from reality. Democracy in and of itself is not necessarily good. Gang rape, after all, is democracy in action.

All men have the right to live their own life. Democracy must be rooted in a rational philosophy that first and foremost recognizes the right of an individual. A few million Imperial Order men screaming for the lives of a much smaller number of people in the New World may win a democratic vote, but it does not give them the right to those lives, or make their calls for such killing right.

Democracy is not a synonym for justice or for freedom. Democracy is not a sacred right sanctifying mob rule. Democracy is a principle that is subordinate to the inalienable rights of the individual.
― Terry Goodkind, Naked Empire

Well said, Mr. Goodkind.


  1. Democracy isn't "majority rule" or "mob rule" - it is as Aristotle described it, "rule and be ruled in turn."

    In a democracy, public office holders are selected by sortition - not election. In a democracy, there are no politicians, no elections and no political class. What we call "democracy" is as Aristotle described elective government - oligarchy.

    No sortition? No democracy. Voting in democracy is as incidental as voting in oligarchy... It's sortition that makes democracy democratic... but you're not supposed to know that let alone understand the implications.

    Don't believe me? Read about real democracy here

    1. From the referenced article:

      “The Athenian legislative branch consisted of two bodies, a Council of 500 and an Assembly of 6000. At first glance, this system resembles the American bicameral legislature, with a small, select upper house and a larger, more popular lower house. But this appearance is deceptive.

      “To begin with, neither the Council nor the Assembly consisted of elected representatives. The members of the Council were selected not by election but by sortition — i.e., by lot. In other words, the 500 Councillors were selected randomly from the (male) citizen population. (And no Councillor could serve more than two terms.)

      “Today we call the United States a democracy. But the Athenians would have called it an oligarchy — or at best a Mixed Constitution. They would have seen our reliance on an electoral system as reinforcing the power of a wealthy, privileged elite whose manipulation of the media and restrictions on ballot access ensure continued success at the polls. The notion that America is run by majority rule is one the Athenians would have found ludicrous; they would have seen that America is run by a tiny minority consisting of public officials and the wealthy interests that support them.”

      Political terms have a way of becoming distorted over time, often by design to the benefit of the ruling class. Perhaps “democracy” is one such term, and I used it here in the context that the term is currently understood.

      I have no disagreement with the description above of the current system used in the United States. I believe majority support is useful to and utilized by the oligarchs when it is for a cause that reinforces the state, and majority support is ignored or manipulated out of reality when it is not.

      In the case of “taxing the rich,” as it appears a majority support such a measure, and the measure reinforces the oligarchs’ wishes of upholding the state institutions (taxation of income is not questioned, so the “debate” remains within acceptable bounds), such majority support is useful.

      I thank you for bringing this article to my attention.

    2. Sure. Don't get me wrong though - I only support a voluntary non-interventionist state. The main point is that sortition (not election) would likely have kept the Constitution the law of the land but no guarantees.

      Before any meaningful reform can occur in the US, everyone needs to understand what elective government is and what real democracy is and the implications of each. Basing a state on ignorance and deception can never be a good thing.

      Elective government is oligarchy as explained by Aristotle in Politics. Only wealthy people or those sponsored by the wealthy can afford to run for political office - thus elective government is plutocracy.

      A democracy eliminates the political class.

      What's important I think for sustainable freedom is to prohibit preemptive state interventions (regulations, etc) by law then use sortition combined with term limits to maintain the integrity of the - voluntary - Compact.

      This political model I call plenarchy which you can read more about at is you wish.

    3. I have visited your site, and will stop by from time to time.

  2. The Republicans among whom Ron Paul slums because he's too chicken to stand up and be a Libertarian, has so abused the filibuster that the people, speaking through polling, are really upset at this "tyranny of the minority", and Ron Paul's right with them.

    Ron Paul: Self-deport. We don't want to serve whores like you.

    1. “…he's too chicken…”

      He is one of the most courageous men I know.

      “We don't want to serve whores like you.”

      Has he asked you to serve him? Why do you speak in the language of the serf?

      In the future, please make your points respectfully. I have no idea what your point is here….