The brave and the wise should rule unencumbered by the varying desires of the tyranny of the majority. This is because of the impacts that such desires pose on the people. The argument is relevant based on the oppressive effects that the majority rule implies on the minority groups in the contemporary epoch.
The concept, the tyranny of the majority, provides a lucid elucidation of democratic systems and the implications they pose on the society. This notion provides an illustration of a scene that portrays the majority formulating decisions in accordance to their particular interests. Because of this, the majority wields the power to select alternatives that maximize their welfare without placing enough consideration on the minority. This form of utilitarianism functions as a means of oppression especially against marginal groups because of the effects such decisions pose on them. Accordingly, the oppression faced by these factions endorses the majority as despots who actively oppress the marginalized via a democratic procedure. From this delineation, it is certain that majority rule influences the masses to act prejudicially and abandon fairness and wise counsel in delivering rulings. Based on the impacts of majority rule, the brave and the wise are able to rule unrestricted regardless of varying desires of the majority.
A discussion of the majority rule is not possible without including democracy. It is via democracy that the tyranny of the majority originates. A democracy distinguishes from other types of governments since it enables all eligible civilians to participate fairly or unswervingly in the application, expansion and formulation of legislations. One of the main characteristics of democracy comprises majority rule. Democracy permits the oppression of minority groups via the tyranny of the masses regardless of legalized mechanisms for their rights. Accordingly, Plato expressed his dissent for democracy by stating that it is “a delightful form of government, anarchic and motley, assigning a kind of equality indiscriminately to equals and unequals alike” (Plato 556e-562a). The reason for this is in accordance to the implications the decisions reached by the majority impose on the marginalized within a society.
Tyranny is indeed a negative trait of democracies. Accordingly, democracy does not gain reference as the best type of government. This assertion also applies equally to other types of government such as oligarchies and monarchies. Based on this assertion, it is certain that all systems of ruling possess positive and negative variants. In democracy, tyranny arises when the ruler ceases to acknowledge the interests of the public. According to Aristotle (379), “A tyrant, as has often been repeated, has no regard to any public interest, except as conducive to his private ends; his aim is pleasure”. Even though Aristotle expressed this view in support of democracy, the statement also illustrates the predisposition of the majority towards oppressing the minority. This is because the majority, via their representatives, passes laws and regulations that may benefit them as a whole, but in reality, affect the minority who do not possess a voice of dissidence against such laws.
Consequently, rulers should exercise authority without desires of the masses’ tyranny due to the implications it causes on the society in general. Polybius asserted that, “And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence” (Polybius 351). The desires provided for by majority rule creates people bent on achieving their desires rather than acting in the interests of the people. This explains the discrimination that is evident between the majority and minority in terms of rules and legislations. With respect to leaders, the tyranny of the majority may influence them to focus on gratifying their desires at the expense of the people. Indeed, by offering rewards to the people, leaders only coerce people towards greed.
It is also critical for the brave and wise to rule without influence from the desires of the tyranny of the majority. This is because of the ability of absolute power to corrupt even the wisest of individuals. Cicero supported this statement by asserting that, “No tempest or conflagration, however great, is harder to quell than mob carried away by the novelty of power” (Cicero 157). Cicero believed that tyrannical power was much harder to resolve due to the rewards it offered to the majority. Accordingly, Cicero argued against the democratic form of government based on the manner it exploited the majority to act in their own favor while admonishing the minority.
For Plato, the abundant and easy production of quality things is only possible when an individual performs a task that is innate to him. This statement accurately resonates with Aristotle’s view of politics. For the philosopher, politics is a natural characteristic of every human being. Every individual is born with a nature that comprises a social and a political side. Consequently, it is correct to surmise that individuals are capable of making better and uncomplicated political decisions since politics is a task that is natural to them. Based on this, it is possible for the brave and wise to rule without facing obstacles from the interests of majority rule. This is because politics should not concentrate on the acquisition of authority and power. Instead, politics should focus on fulfilling and perfecting the human temperament since the political existence should exist in harmony with the nature of humans.
The brave and wise are able to rule regardless of the implications of the tyranny of majority via freedom. Accordingly, the concept of freedom is an aspect of human nature. The underlying tenet of democracy comprises the provision of freedom. Freedom, in this respect, implies rights and privileges. A democracy should be able to allow civilians possess a portion in freedom. Aristotle (382) stated that, ‘But one factor of liberty is to govern and be governed in turn…”. Based on this, Aristotle alleged that the chief facets of freedom comprise being under rule and performing rules as well. The reason for this is that all people are equal according to number rather than advantage. Therefore, every person is entitled to live as he or she deems fit. Undeniably, freedom allows individuals to express themselves since all of them are equal and unprejudiced.
The notion of freedom receives further support from the Rawls’ definition of justice. Accordingly, Rawls imagined a situation in which every person was free under the Veil of Ignorance. Deemed as the Original Position, this situation illustrated the essence of equality and freedom in the delivery of fair verdicts. Interestingly, this similar situation applies in this context. This is because every person is equal regardless of the natural endowments or their social advantages under the Veil of Ignorance (Kessler 174-175). Even though it is impossible to apply this proposition to a democracy, it is possible to apply the lessons that originate from the illustration. For instance, since every person is equal, then it is impossible for the majority to hinder the marginalized by acting out of their interests. This is because the majority will observe fairness and impartiality in the passage of legislations and policies.
In conclusion, the brave and the wise are able to rule unencumbered from the varying desires of the majority. This is because of the negative implications that arise from exploiting majority rule at the expense of the minority. The effects outlined by Cicero, Plato, Aristotle and Polybius illustrate the extent to which absolute power corrupts a society. However, by focusing on gratifying the human nature and providing freedom, it is possible to the leaders to rule unswervingly regardless of the yearnings that arise from the tyranny of the masses. (1284 words)
Aristotle. Politics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005. Print.
Cicero, Marcus T. De Officiis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
Kessler, E. Gary. Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader. New York: Wadsworth, 2008. Print.
Plato. The Republic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013. Print.
Polybius. The Histories. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012. Print.
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