When we think of tyranny it is usually pictured in the form of a despot such as the emperors of ancient Rome or our modern-day want-to-be emperors such as Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jung-un, etc. When we look at our current system of government we could also add unelected bureaucrats who populate such agencies as the EPA, BLM, IRS, et al.
As you examine these various avenues through which tyranny can and has manifested itself, there is a continuum on which all of these forms fall. At the each end of it are two extremes that are manifesting themselves in America today.
On one end you have “democracy” – the rule of the majority. Our founding fathers rejected pure democracy on several grounds. Madison set forth the case in The Federalist No. 10 that democracy ultimately devolves into “spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property;” In such a society those in the minority are unprotected from the abuse and oppression by the majority. Today, as more and more individuals become dependent upon government for their sustenance, and more immigrants, both legal and especially illegal, are allowed into America and have no intention of assimilating the principles of “Americanism”, they will use government to oppress those who strive to adhere to those principles of individualism and limited government. Such a danger was expressed again by Madison in a letter to Thomas Jefferson on October 17, 1788:
“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is cheifly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.”
On the opposite end is the tyranny of the minority. This is becoming more prevalent today. The Occupy Wall Street hooligans chanted “This is what democracy looks like”, but such could not have been further from the truth. They were what anarchy looks like; they were an expression of attempted tyranny by a minority. Most recently we see those who can’t figure out what gender they are demanding access to restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender they think they are because to not do so makes them feel uncomfortable. They are a tiny minority in our society yet governments, companies and schools are caving in to this minority even though it makes those in the majority feel uncomfortable. Such capitulations as these (and others in the news) are the submission of the majority to the tyranny of the minority.
Regardless of whether we are speaking of the tyranny of one individual, a particular political party or group of government officials, a majority or a minority within a society, it is still tyranny, and in none of these cases can the inalienable right of individual liberty be realized.
-May 13, 2016