THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY (Posted 3rd Time)

Reason for latest repost:  This comment:

mastersamwisesays:

You would rely on the charity of a people that Alexis De Tocqueville described as practicing “self interest rightly understood?” It is an inescapable aspect of human nature, popularized by Peter Singer’s thought experiment, that a given person will prefer not to help people in need unless the need is immediate, dire, and right in their face. As my old humanities professor would say, “man is ambitious, rapacious, and vindictive.”

You can only get the Early Church if you had the society set up like the Early Church.

What  is trying to justify is using the power of government to force people to be charitable. However, such a solution poses a logical conundrum. If we cannot trust the people to be charitable, what makes us think we can trust leaders the people have chosen with the power to steal from some people to give to other people? Of course, we cannot. That is why we are losing our republic.

Reason for repost on : I first posted this extract from Democracy in America December 14, 2009. Nonetheless, some thoughts stick in the mind. So when I got into a furious debate with Tony at this post, SHOULD CHRISTIANS PARTICIPATE IN POLITICS?, Alexis De Tocqueville‘s words came to mind.

We live in an era almost like any other in America’s history. Our flesh tempts us to shout our opponents down or make our opponents look like fools. In the extreme, when we allow our pride and our fears dominion, we will name our opponents the enemy of the People. 

What we believe becomes a part of us. So when another disagrees, we feel rejected, and we angrily return that rejection. Therefore, this rejection of another human being is the instinctive and predictable response of our animal nature. What can we do to resist?

Usually we do not think of majority rule as tyrannical.  Alexis De Tocqueville, however, had no such illusions.  He understood that more than one republic had passed into despotism because of majority rule.  And from his observations of 1831-32 America, he also understood just how tyrannical the majority might be.

What follows is an excerpt from  Democracy in America, Chapter II, Section 1 Volume 2 (of 2).  In this excerpt, Tocqueville explains the frightful power with which the majority can enforce its will.

When the ranks of society are unequal, and men unlike each other in condition, there are some individuals invested with all the power of superior intelligence, learning, and enlightenment, whilst the multitude is sunk in ignorance and prejudice. Men living at these aristocratic periods are therefore naturally induced to shape their opinions by the superior standard of a person or a class of persons, whilst they are averse to recognize the infallibility of the mass of the people.

The contrary takes place in ages of equality. The nearer the citizens are drawn to the common level of an equal and similar condition, the less prone does each man become to place implicit faith in a certain man or a certain class of men. But his readiness to believe the multitude increases, and opinion is more than ever mistress of the world. Not only is common opinion the only guide which private judgment retains amongst a democratic people, but amongst such a people it possesses a power infinitely beyond what it has elsewhere. At periods of equality men have no faith in one another, by reason of their common resemblance; but this very resemblance gives them almost unbounded confidence in the judgment of the public; for it would not seem probable, as they are all endowed with equal means of judging, but that the greater truth should go with the greater number.

When the inhabitant of a democratic country compares himself individually with all those about him, he feels with pride that he is the equal of any one of them; but when he comes to survey the totality of his fellows, and to place himself in contrast to so huge a body, he is instantly overwhelmed by the sense of his own insignificance and weakness. The same equality which renders him independent of each of his fellow-citizens taken severally, exposes him alone and unprotected to the influence of the greater number. The public has therefore among a democratic people a singular power, of which aristocratic nations could never so much as conceive an idea; for it does not persuade to certain opinions, but it enforces them, and infuses them into the faculties by a sort of enormous pressure of the minds of all upon the reason of each.

In the United States the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own. Everybody there adopts great numbers of theories, on philosophy, morals, and politics, without inquiry, upon public trust; and if we look to it very narrowly, it will be perceived that religion herself holds her sway there, much less as a doctrine of revelation than as a commonly received opinion. The fact that the political laws of the Americans are such that the majority rules the community with sovereign sway, materially increases the power which that majority naturally exercises over the mind. For nothing is more customary in man than to recognize superior wisdom in the person of his oppressor. This political omnipotence of the majority in the United States doubtless augments the influence which public opinion would obtain without it over the mind of each member of the community; but the foundations of that influence do not rest upon it. They must be sought for in the principle of equality itself, not in the more or less popular institutions which men living under that condition may give themselves. The intellectual dominion of the greater number would probably be less absolute amongst a democratic people governed by a king than in the sphere of a pure democracy, but it will always be extremely absolute; and by whatever political laws men are governed in the ages of equality, it may be foreseen that faith in public opinion will become a species of religion there, and the majority its ministering prophet.

Thus intellectual authority will be different, but it will not be diminished; and far from thinking that it will disappear, I augur that it may readily acquire too much preponderance, and confine the action of private judgment within narrower limits than are suited either to the greatness or the happiness of the human race. In the principle of equality I very clearly discern two tendencies; the one leading the mind of every man to untried thoughts, the other inclined to prohibit him from thinking at all. And I perceive how, under the dominion of certain laws, democracy would extinguish that liberty of the mind to which a democratic social condition is favorable; so that, after having broken all the bondage once imposed on it by ranks or by men, the human mind would be closely fettered to the general will of the greatest number.

If the absolute power of the majority were to be substituted by democratic nations, for all the different powers which checked or retarded overmuch the energy of individual minds, the evil would only have changed its symptoms. Men would not have found the means of independent life; they would simply have invented (no easy task) a new dress for servitude. There is—and I cannot repeat it too often—there is in this matter for profound reflection for those who look on freedom as a holy thing, and who hate not only the despot, but despotism. For myself, when I feel the hand of power lie heavy on my brow, I care but little to know who oppresses me; and I am not the more disposed to pass beneath the yoke, because it is held out to me by the arms of a million of men.

“For nothing is more customary in man than to recognize superior wisdom in the person of his oppressor.”  Consider some examples.

  • Do you believe in global warming?   Are you familiar with the argument that global warming must be true because it is supposedly the overwhelming consensus of scientists?  Consensus?  Is that the way science is suppose to work?
  • Do you think the two-party system consisting of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is best?  Why?  What would be wrong with a multi-party system?
  • What is the importance of polls?  Do you feel reassured that you are right only when you are in the majority?
  • Why was the idea of Negro inferiority so difficult to overcome?
  • What is the basis for the argument supporting same-sex marriage?  Does it have anything to do logic or “majority consensus”?
  • Why do political advocates work so hard to “prove” the majority sides with them?
Posted in Alexis De Tocqueville, Book Review, culture, unraveling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS — a reblog

moneytreeWhen I wrote WORSHIP OF THE GOD OF STUFF — A reblog, I got an interesting comment that inspired this reblog. It reminded me that some smart people who really should know better cannot figure out the difference between the government dole and honest charity. So it is that generosity with “other people’s money” is destroying our country.

The government dole stems from covetousness, not charity. Covetousness violates the 10th commandment.

Exodus 20:17 New Revised Standard Version

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND GOVERNMENT — PART 2 represents my meager effort to explain the intersection of the 10th commandment and government. Keith DeHavelle, not a religious person, approaches the subject from a different direction. Nevertheless, it is well worth seeing where he ends up.

Greed

Some random thoughts on free enterprise, expanded from a comment to yesterday’s post.

Does free enterprise, usually called “capitalism” because of Karl Marx’s influence, depend upon greed? No, in fact. The expression “it depends heavily on greed” is counterfactual in my opinion.  Consider:

If I want to make money in the free market, I must serve my fellow humans in a manner they find valuable. I can natter on about how much I want all day, and it will avail me nothing.

Only if they value the good or service or labor, and feel that it benefits them, will they ignoretheir greed and help me reach my goals.

All transactions in the free market, from paying or working for a wage, to inventing and selling a product, to providing a service from home cleaning or health insurance, is a win-win as long as it is a voluntary transaction by both parties and uncorrupted by government coercion.

Knowledge

The result of these win-win transactions is added wealth, innovation, and most cruciallyknowledge — knowledge shared, either directly or because it is built-in to the product, service or labor we provide each other in opposition to any greed we might feel.

The difference between how we live now and a thousand years ago, or a hundred thousand years ago, is knowledge. We are physically and mentally essentially the same over those time spans, but free enterprise has brought us into a new world to the great benefit of society.

The growth of knowledge happened despite government domination for millennia, and made slow, incremental progress. In China, for example, it was a capital offense for hundreds of years to know how a water-clock worked. As each dynasty was replaced, the ministers who could build and maintain the clocks were often simply executed. And they started over.

Knowledge is not just power, it is wealth and well-being. And it has been been the reason that governments and would-be tyrants like Marx and his disciples worked to concentrate knowledge into the hands of a few “masterminds” at great cost to society. And the proponent of these systems often describe them as “altruistic.” (continued here)

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Anabaptist Foundations

Citizen Tom:

H/T to https://thatmrgguy.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/anabaptist-foundations/

During the Protestant Reformation, the reformers sought a return to the traditions of First Century Christianity. Of course there was a great deal of argument about that. What exactly are the traditions of First Century Christianity? Since over a thousand years had passed, there was room for debate.

What was most unfortunate, however, was the fact some Christians took the “debate” too far and persecuted other Christians. That sort of persecution was most certainly not part of First Century Christianity. And yet during the “reformation” Christians tortured Christians. That’s the sort of history that makes the 4th principle look quite reasonable.

Originally posted on aurorawatcherak:

We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not…

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Magical thinking

Originally posted on bluebird of bitterness:

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WORSHIP OF THE GOD OF STUFF — A reblog

The Worship of Mammon -- 1909 painting by Evelyn De Morgan. (from here)

The Worship of Mammon — 1909 painting by Evelyn De Morgan. (from here)

Rob Barkman is running a series on Revelation. His latest is an interesting post on the fleeting nature of riches. We are all familiar with the story of the rich young ruler who wanted to follow Jesus, but could not let go of his riches. Matthew (Matthew 19:16-26), Mark (Mark 10:17-31), and Luke (Luke 18:18-34) tell the story. What most people remember is this verse.

Matthew 19:23-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

23 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Most of us read Revelation less often than the four Gospels, but that book is about Jesus too. Revelation has lessons for us too, and during the Tribulation there are still rich people who love their money and have trouble letting go of what they do not need in exchange for what they do need. And yet is that not the problem with every idol, whether it be about the love of sex, the love of government, the love of our self, or the love of stuff (that is, riches or money).

The Revelation Of Jesus Christ: “so great riches is come to nought”

SIH TOTT ICON

Rev 18:17 – “For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.”

The rapid loss of the riches found in Satan’s kingdom, helps to illustrate the passing nature of the riches of this world.

Riches are fleeting…

Pro 23:4-5 – “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.  Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”

Therefore to love riches, and live our lives in their pursuit, leads to a worthless, wasted life… (continued here)

Note that Revelation 18:11-24 “Warnings To Depart From Babylon (2)” considers Revelation 18:17 in context, and that is worth doing.

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