Equality vs The Tyranny of Majority

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“Tyranny of Majority” is a phenomenon in a democratic society where decisions are made by the majority group and the decision oppresses the minority group, comparable to that of tyrants. The term was first used by John Adams in 1781. It was later popularized by Alexis de Tocqueville in his book: Democracy in America; and further spread by John Stuart Mill. In their works, both Mill and Tocqueville are concerned about the existence of the tyranny of majority in democracy and saw the necessity of a civic culture that supported liberty and diversity in order to prevent such tragedy. With the idea of preventing the aforementioned adversity caused by the excesses of democracy, Mill’s proposal is to build up the political institutions. On the other hand, Tocqueville emphasized the importance of local politics participation by all of the citizens as well as dependence on the good mores of the people. While it is apparent that Mill owed a lot of his political thought to Tocqueville, proven by his works throughout the years, he also assessed many of Tocqueville’s principles, resulting in a different solution to the tyranny of majority. It is inevitable that Mill’s view on democracy is heavily influenced by Tocqueville. One of his earlier works was the review of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, which was written in 1835. According to Mill, true democracy would only exist if the government were under the control of the people. He wrote, “in no government will the interest of the people be the object, except where the people are able to dismiss their rulers as soon as the devotion of those rulers to the interests of the people becomes questionable.” (Mill, 1835, p. 110) In his earlier works, Mill was not too convinced by Tocqueville’s i... ... middle of paper ... ...3, from The Online Library of Liberty website: http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=233&chapter=16538&layout=html&Itemid=27 Mill, J. S. (1840). De Tocqueville On Democracy In America Part II (J. M. Robson, Ed.). Retrieved from The Online Library of Liberty website: http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=233&chapter=16544&layout=html&Itemid=27 Mill, J. S. (1859). Dissertations and discussions: political, philosophical and historical, Volume 1. Retrieved from Internet Archive website: https://archive.org/stream/dissertationsan11millgoog/dissertationsan11millgoog_djvu.txt Mill, J. S. (1861). Considerations on Representative Government. University of Lausanne. Mill, J. S. (1873). Autobiography. Retrieved from Project Gutenberg website: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10378/pg10378.html
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