Democracy, Tyranny, and Liberty – Learn Liberty
Articles Blog

Democracy, Tyranny, and Liberty – Learn Liberty

December 3, 2019

We often talk about freedom and democracy
as if they were the same thing. But actually it’s not obvious that democracy always produces
the most freedom- friendly outcomes. Sometimes it does. The idea that we should all be in
charge of deciding our own fate certainly is more conducive to promoting freedom than
if we had a tyrant to tell everybody what to do. But it’s also possible for democratic
structures to be against freedom. Democratic structures can marginalize minorities.
Democratic structures can make the majority rule seem to be the correct thing even if
it’s not the correct thing. After all just because most people agree that something is
true doesn’t make it true. So there’s also no reason to think that just because
most people agree that something is a just policy that that’s necessarily the most
just policy. There was a time when the vast majority of Americans thought that women should
not be permitted to vote. Or that black’s shouldn’t have the same rights as white
people. Nowadays we think those things are false, but surely it’s not the number of
people who thinks that they’re false that makes them false. The fact of the matter is a democratic voting
system is a way to figure out what most people think. But that’s not the same thing as
figuring out what’s right. So when majorities in a democratic process pass legislation that
removes or restricts individual freedom, that’s not necessarily valuable. If the goal is liberty,
then democratic structures have to be themselves bounded by bordering conditions that keep
people safe from what John Stuart Mill calls the Ttyranny of the Mmajority. Majorities can be just as tyrannical as kings.
In fact the Greek philosopher Plato argues that in addition to this concern about tyranny
of the majority there’s also a structural problem. The democratic structures can become
tyrannical. That is, through the people’s discussion and argument and lack of direction,
they will clamormer for new leadership and demand that a tyrant be brought into power.
This is how historically many tyrants have actually come into existence through a democratic
process. This is true with Napoleon. This is true for Hitler. This is true for Julius
Caesar. These are all examples of historical tyrants who came into power because of, not
in spite of, democratic structures. So if we’re concerned about protecting freedom,
democracy might be something that helps us. But it’s really important to make sure that
there are boundary conditions on the democratic process that protect the rights of the individual.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. “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

  2. "whenever the Legislators endeavor to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common Refuge, which God hath provided for all Men, against Force and Violence. Whensoever therefore the Legislative shall transgress this fundamental Rule of Society;

  3. and either by Ambition, Fear, Folly or Corruption, endeavor to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other an Absolute Power over the Lives, Liberties, and Estates of the People; By this breach of Trust they forfeit the Power, the People had put into their hands, for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the People, who have a Right to resume their original Liberty." – John Locke

  4. @helios5868 I agree with you wholeheartedly. I imagine though even within my own country America that many of those who represent us do not even know the Constitution nor the Bill of rights very well at all. For example Barack Obama. From what I have read and seen he is not even constitutionally able to be the President of the United States of America. It seems to me that the media, the money and those who truly run the Gov have it set up there way. Behind smoke and mirror are the true rulers

  5. More constitutional republic and less democracy?

    I would say let's have a constitutional republic obtained and maintained through democracy?

  6. Great video, please keep them coming! It's inspiring to see so many new liberty-promoting organisations springing up all over the place.

  7. @seppsters Actually he does. Napoleon was initially elected as First Consul before crowning himself Emperor. And Hitler and the Nazi party were elected into power before he reorganized the Wiemar Republic into the Third Reich.

  8. @seppsters Bonaparte was elected by plebescite. First to consul, then First Consul, then Emperor.

    Hitler was elected as Chancellor of the Weimar government. The Nazis had to gain control of the legislative branch (i.e. Reichstag) through popular votes, whereby they garnered more and more representatives.

    After gaining this popular support, and utilizing the 'extraordinary circumstances of the terrorist incident,' i.e. Reichstag fire, he suspended the constitution and was proclaimed Furher.

  9. Freedom comes from your bill of rights, not an economic structure. At the present moment 11/17/11 Capitalism is causing us more grief than Socialism would. The truth is, Socialist countries have more freedom than America right now and our bill of rights is being torn to bits by capitalists. You don't see 80 year old women getting strip searched in Sweden or 55 mile an hour speed limits in europe. Not to mention the chemicals that make it into the American food chain. Hows that fluoridated water?

  10. @joejoe652 You're ignorant on so many levels I can't begin to respond to your capitalism vs socialism statement . I also supect that it would be difficult to enter your conscience and give you the truth about how fucked up your gov't is and why there is no capitalism left in the U.S.A.because of gov't interferance with capitalism . Gov't (fed , state county , and city) started its assault on capitalism in the year of 1913 — income tax law was passed , alledgedly to fuck the rich . Study man .

  11. @fabianstraregy Ok so you watched a John Birch or Alex Jones video. Maybe you are researched enough to have read the Creature from Jekyll Island as you referred to 1913, the federal reserve act and income tax. Broaden your research. May I suggest for understanding the collapse of 08 The Big Short by Michael Lewis. For american history The Peoples History Of The United States by Howard Zinn BTW I think you meant to say there is no free market left not "there is no capitalism left"

  12. @jpgarrett93 I have to disagree. Early America was dominated by land monopolies, masses of poor, dispossessed whites, and slaves, resulting in rebellions (see the Regulator rebellion). Democracy would have made a huge difference.

  13. @jpgarrett93 They'd probably vote for a slave. Anyways, I'm sick to death of the "mob rule" argument, it's always used to attack normal people fighting for basic human rights, while "minority rule" by oligarchs certainly has proved more violent, paranoid, and rapacious than anything. "Mob rule" is just a scary way of saying "by the people, for the people."

  14. The right solution is that not only minorities have the democratic tools in their hands but also minorities have ones in their hands and Bill of Rights is best of them, a key to guaranteeing human rights, freedom and liberty.

  15. This dude is subverting the meaning of democracy. Democracy, nowadays, doesn't mean just democratic elections, but an entire system of checks and balances, aimed to protect the minorities from the tyranny of the majority and to prevent the rise of a tyrant. It is the best system if you want liberty, and it is dangerous to claim otherwise.

  16. Its funny Socialism is actually realy realy good, But in the US Socialism is i donu the devil look at Canada your betters in that area.

  17. I'd appreciate this more if it mentioned how the United States uses the Constitution as this "boundary condition." Many wrongly believe that we do live in a mob rule society but don't understand that the governments (local, state, and federal) are limited by definition, as stated in this document.

  18. @LordShandor Where does it say that the Fed has unlimited power? Is it the "… lay and collect taxes part" or the "make all laws which shall be necessary…" ?

  19. @cwoclingensmith Sweden Finland nethelands Cuba canada most of the times its a mix this being the case in Canada and Sweden and sometimes its just socialistic through and through like Cuba. Socalism is also the step you take before a Resource based economy which is the future superior system we will all use, Dont fret! this is a good thing!

  20. @cwoclingensmith china, Venezuela, Brazil, Vietnam, Libya under Gaddafi, Argentina, Ecuador, and surprisingly Cuba the only socialist state that is not prospering is North Korea due to isolation

  21. Tyranny of the majority means the majority oppressing the minority. It doesn't mean either side is right.
    For example, if white people (majority) vote to take away the rights of black people (minority), then in a true democracy, the black people will have their rights taken away.
    You can also use christians oppressing hindus or any other religion.
    A true democracy is majority rules, which opens the door to one group of people taking away the rights of another group of people, even if it's wrong.

  22. or majority oppressed by minority elite OK this can go both ways this guy is a smooth joker, so what now? what to do with the evil majority? shoot'em, ignore them its OK there evil. we minority are the good guys, there are exclusions but do get the idea?

  23. I'll make it more clear for you, minority elite oppress majority or majority oppress minority can go both ways. you said you "blacks oppressed by white majority" here yeah but look at South Africa minority elite is white oppress majority blacks there.
    This bozo just talks about only majority oppress minority that's 100%BS because no one today is going to vote for mentally ill Neo-liberals mostly rich assholes would vote for them, liberals play victim of fraud every time they don't elected

  24. I see your point now. The reason why I didn't understand at first was because you're talking about something different from what the video's topic. At no time did he say that only the majority can oppress the minority. In fact, he mentioned tyrants and kings, which is one example of the minority oppressing the majority.
    The video was talking specifically about one of the dangers of democracy (majority oppressors). When the rich and corps take over the government, it's no longer a democracy.

  25. again it can go both ways and yes corp take over government its been happening in Mexico its called corporatism and usually a statist authoritarian government as well, pretty much fascism in my opinion but without the whole racial and discrimination

  26. I come here to learn about economics, and when I see post like this, it really makes me just want stop watching. The first thing you talk about in any econ class is that you are NOT here to talk about politics.

  27. Youtube is a center for free speech. If you don't want to hear someone's political opinion, you should ignore the comment section.

  28. Ok. But Milo chose to voice his opinion here, under this video, because he thought it was relevant. Youtube is not your house, and it isn't a classroom, people can talk about whatever they want to here.

    Once again, if you don't want to read political comments, don't read the comment section.

  29. "Just because most of the people think something is true, doesn't make it true". I agree. This is why proper and complete education for ALL citizens is so important. But the majority of education sucks. There is a reason: Dumb people are easy to manipulate. So the ruling class uses propaganda to affect the ignorant public opinion, towards things that benefit just a small group. Effectively using democracy as a shield for tyranny.

  30. I would rather live under a strict constitutional representation-based republic (where said constitution is designed to keep the government away from my life, liberty, and property) than under a democracy.

  31. "Let me control the textbooks and I will control the state." — Adolph Hitler
    The problem is that the curriculum is controlled by the elected officials (and the agencies they appoint) so proper and complete education must be acomplished without the state.

  32. you didn't answer the question professor , how to protect freedoms with democracy , by dictatorship ? , there is no answer for this question yet !!!, been thinking about it for a long time

  33. ahh no. GTFO of the internet. NOW

    you prove this is all right wing Propaganda BS on this channel

    Obama was elected. you have a chance to vote him out. if not he stays another 4 years then we repeat the process of elections. this is the boundaries of Democracy. if anyone is going to seize power over America its going to be the republicans. seeing as how they whine and bitch when they don't get their way. plus they are trying to suppress the minorities vote. looks like fascism /one-state-party

  34. if KM was an Idiot then you good sir are an imbecile. not all humans fuck up government. only the corrupt ones do.

  35. how else would this work?

    Republicans run America for 10 years then the democrats get ten years after that? then we repeat the process?

  36. I was just simply stating what democracy really is bc many think that it is what our founding fathers established. They established a republic which protected the natural rights of people. You are right the only way democracy works is by the majority enforcing their will on everyone else without consent. It's a vicious cycle that just continues to repeat bc majority falsely believe that democracy=freedom instead of democracy=rule by majority

  37. Only the corrupt ones. Well, power corrupts, so anyone with power is eventually corrupted by it and this means they will "fuck up government".

  38. The only good thing that comes from democracy is accountability. Without democracy, the state does not have to answer to an electorate when it screws up. However this does not necessarily prevent abuses of power in a democratically elected government. Only constitutions can do that. So, an undemocratically elected state, working under a strict constitution which is designed to protect peoples natural rights, is the true liberal state.

  39. You offer no proof or evidence that suggests that ultimate individual freedom will lead to an unhappy community or society. The free association of like-minded individuals with common goals is the very essence of community. Historical evidence confirms that the voluntary cooperation of free individuals occurs readily when common good is identified. Your assumption that Individual freedom will lead to harm to others goes beyond the libertarian principle that specifically excludes that result.

  40. people that work for, pay into, or receive benefits from the government should not be allowed to vote. the financial conflict of interest eradicates any pretense objectivity and ensnares them in a zero sum game, whereby they would be foolish not to vote themselves other peoples stuff, or to artificially shield themselves from market competition, because that's what everyone else is doing.

  41. By the way the freedom of the libertarian principle isn't just freedom of doing anything or complete ultimate freedom, but it is the freedom to exercise choices as long as they do not interfere with people voluntarily forming contracts or exercising their choices.

  42. Excellent. That structural problem is "the crisis exception" for the viewers who haven't heard of it, and it's the force behind the degradation of democracy and states in general. For example, the difference between a good parent and a bad parent is preparation for conflict with the child. When we're unprepared, we tend to resort to authority by force. In the parent's case, that's a lot of yelling or demands. When we're prepared to be good communicators, we're better able to allow differences.

  43. This is why you need a Bill of Rights to restrict what government can do. Most of the world does not have this.

  44. This is far from the truth. If you reject freedom in exchange for ANYTHING, what you are left with is bondage and deception. If you do not have freedom, even what you seem to have is in the end only there to keep you from the truth and from freedom. Freedom is all. What is it that you would hold so dear, that you would exchange freedom for it!

  45. Yes, complete, total, and absolute freedom may be dangerous. Embrace it. Do not turn your back on it and exchange it for some happy-feeling lie.

  46. Uncontitutional Direct democracy offers the optimal balance between socialism and capitalism and between order and freedom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *