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Tyranny of the Majority

Tyranny of the Majority In his book, On Liberty, John Stewart Mill goes to great lengths to demonstrate how unjustly the majority rules in a democratic society. He starts off by explaining the intentions of liberty, and what went wrong. He then reasons that not only laws, but also public opinion can negatively affect the system. Furthermore, Mill then points out why humanity is hurt by the silencing of opinions. Finally he offers the idea that majority rule can lead to stagnation. Advancing Mill's argument, Niccolo Machiavelli's book, The Prince, illustrates views on human nature that help to demonstrate why a majority ruled system will become tyrant and fail. Mill and Machiavelli’s literature show particular problems of injustice that the majority holds, leading to a "tyranny of the majority.” An operational definition for what Mill meant by "tyranny of the majority" is now needed. According to Mill, democracies enable the majority to stomp out the voices of the minority groups, refusing to think about the thoughts and ideas of anyone who does not comply. This form of tyranny gives the majority the right to obstruct justice. Mill starts off his essay by stating the intentions of liberty. “By liberty, was meant protection against the tyranny of the political rulers” (Mill 1). In ancient times, the leader did not govern by the will of the people, but rather by his own judgment. This led the people to revolt and eventually attempt to build a democratic society. Unfortunately, there was no fear of the people tyrannizing themselves. According to Mill, this is exactly what happened. “The will of the people, moreover, practically means, the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this, as agains...

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Tyranny of the Majority. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:23, January 27, 2015, from