TYRANNY OF THE MINORITY

The majority are losing freedom after freedom and tradition after tradition to a wimpy, nameless, minority that hides behind groups or Unions and dumps shame on its opposition through words like ‘diversity’ and ‘fairness.’ But there is nothing diverse about a politically correct landscape, and the methods used to try to create one are clearly anything but fair.
Some Founding Founders were wise enough to know that a tendency toward unchecked factions would devastate the country they sought to leave to posterity. Surely we must be brave enough to take their fears into account and fight against the one person here or the two people there who are actively using the court system to rip us away from our moorings. The tyranny of the minority is tyrannical indeed.
(The Tyranny of the Minority by A.W.R. Hawkins at humanevents.com)
Political theorists often write about the danger of a tyranny of the majority—that is, a democracy by raw numbers in which minorities lose rights because the majority of voters want them to lose rights. But a minority can exercise tyranny too, if an elected official follows the wishes of some of his followers, even though most voters disagree. A majority of a majority is a minority, even if they act like they have a mandate. That’s true whether the overall minority is evangelical zealots or corporate lobbyists.
(Tyranny of the Minority, RUBICON at robertsilvey.com)
There is a tendency to miss the crucial point that while democratically elected governments can claim legitimacy based on winning a majority of votes, their victories are also based on the subjugation of (at the very least) the opinions of the minority. As such, democracies are far from being the vehicle for the freedom of all, and also run the risk of being tyrannies in their own right. The legitimacy the government claims does not have the backing of the majority; the best it can claim is having won over a larger minority than its immediate rivals. It would perhaps be hysterical to claim that we live in a despotic democracy, but we certainly have a self-perpetuating oligarchy backed up by a minority of the population. So what to do about it? Tinkering with the electoral system seems unlikely to provide majorities – the increasingly fragmented nature of modern society is likely to increase the votes for minority/fringe parties, and minority backed government is realistically now the norm, not the exception. Besides, creating a situation where there was majority backed government again would not challenge the problem of the tyranny of majority. Either way, some still get to dominate others. Yet almost all government is always going to involve some having power over others, and in the pursuit of a certain level of law and order (or at least the lack of a Hobbesian state of nature) that’s no bad thing. The point is, though, to realize that our current democratic system does create a tyranny of the minority, and as a result we need to do something to address that situation.
(The Tyranny of the Minority by The Nameless Libertarian, January 18, 2011, THE LIBERTY CABEL at libertycabal.org)
Consensus certainly gives minorities power that they don’t have in voting—in the extreme, one person alone can stop a decision from going forward. When people talk about “tyranny,” it’s shorthand for abusing power, where the fear is that an individual (or small group) will use their power to block for the purpose of protecting a personal agenda without regard for the rest of the group.
Does this happen? You bet! Can it be prevented? Not with certainty, yet there is a lot a group can do to safeguard against the improper use (or threatened use) of blocks. The key is developing a group culture in which both consensus and power are well understood and respected. Let’s take them one at a time.
Abuse, or “tyranny,” is far less likely if the group defines a legitimate block as something that must be tied to a sense that the proposed agreement will violate a common value or existing group agreement—that is, a sense that the proposal is a mistake for the group—as opposed to objections based on personal preferences, however strongly held. Coupled with that, the group needs to develop a culture in which its members are trained in consensus (it’s hard to use a system well if you don’t fully understand it). Further, they need to be able to examine a block with grace, exhibiting genuine curiosity about why the blocker thinks the proposal is bad for the group, as well as compassion for the feeling of isolation that often accompanies standing alone. By extending caring consideration to the blocker, the group will go a long way toward diffusing the possibility of reactive (or even vindictive) responses from the blocker when asked to explain their position.
Power can be abused in any decision-making system, and consensus is no exception. In a healthy group, blocks are quite rare—because healthy groups rarely develop proposals that haven’t already addressed blocking concerns. If you’re seeing a pattern of certain people blocking frequently, there is probably an underlying problem, and it might be symptomatic of power abuse. There are innocent possibilities also, so we have to be careful.
On the one hand, the blocker may be having consistent trouble understanding or working constructively with the process, or perhaps it’s time to revisit the common values— the blocker and the group may no longer belong together. On the other hand, the blocker may be inappropriately looking for attention, or pushing a hidden agenda. There is a big difference between tyranny and confusion. Try not to mix them up.
(Laird Schaub responds to How do we prevent “Tyranny of the Minority?” at communities.ic.org)
Tyrannies are naturally oligarchic. Powerful men and women will find that their interests intersect more with each other, than with anyone outside their circle. It’s why two opposing elected officials will generally find more common ground in conference rooms, than at town halls with their voters.
The tyranny of minorities is a melding of interests. Power flows horizontally, but not vertically. The line between government and corporations blurs. Politicians move back and forth between the two, between political office, non-profits, lobbies and regulatory organizations. Power forms its own complex, the melding of interests dictates its own politics. Ideology becomes a tool for monopolizing power, not democratizing it. And each attempt to monopolize power adds new layers to the existing power structures, and makes them less efficient and less accountable.
What the tyranny of minorities really means is that the majority is not represented. Its opinion is not solicited or wanted. It is expected to go out and do what it’s told. And warned against stepping an inch out of line. It is regulated, litigated and exploited in a game of chess played by the powerful against the less powerful.
The tyranny of the majority should not eclipse the guaranteed freedoms upon which the covenant of government is based. But it should certainly be able to outweigh those tyrannies of minorities which insist on monopolizing power over the people in their own hands. And it is vitally important to remember that their best instrument for monopolizing power is government itself.
(A Tyranny of Minorities, Right Side News, Daniel Greenfield, posted on Monday, February 14, 2011 by IbJensen at freerepublic.com)
‘When a group of people needs to decide on an action to be taken, and every participant only gets to decide on very small steps, so that these small decisions work together to create the total outcome, it is often seen that the outcome will be different from what the participants had chosen if they had a direct say in the issue.
This effect is very apparent in the free market. If everyone would stop buying goods from corporations which behave badly, corporations would slowly compete to be nicer and nicer. Leaving aside the problem of deciding which corporations are bad and which are nice, it can be seen that other criteria often affect the decision where to buy much more than this, even though most people would condemn bad actions by corporations if they would be asked.’ – Alfred E. Kahn, economist.
An article entitled `The Tyranny of Structurelessness’, by Jo Freeman, which has received wide attention around the women’s movement, (in MS, Second Wave etc) assails the trend towards `leaderless’, `structure less’ groups, as the main — if not sole — organizational form of the movement, as a dead-end.
There are (at least) two different models for building a movement, only one of which does Joreen acknowledge: a mass organization with strong, centralized control, such as a Party. The other model, which consolidates mass support only as a coup de grace necessity, is based on small groups in voluntary association.
A large group functions as an aggregate of its parts — each member functions as a unit, a cog in the wheel of the large organization. The individual is alienated by the size, and relegated, to struggling against the obstacle created by the size of the group — as example, expending energy to get a point of view recognized.
Small groups, on the other hand, multiply the strength of each member. By working collectively in small numbers, the small group utilizes the various contributions of each person to their fullest, nurturing and developing individual input, instead of dissipating it in the competitive survival-of-the-fittest/smartest/wittiest spirit of the large organization.
(Cathy Levine at theanarchistlibrary.org)
Tyranny is a confusing thing. It can start anywhere, from any small mistake, and develop into a huge crisis. In May of 1787, 55 delegates came to a constitutional convention in Philadelphia, USA. They came there to fix the Articles of Confederation, but soon found out that they had to write a new constitution. After lots of arguments and compromises, they finally made one. Now how does the Constitution prevent one person or group of people from having all, or too much, power? This is how; The Constitution prevented tyranny in four ways: Federalism, separating powers, each branch checking and balancing the other, and creating equality between large and small states.
The delegates eventually came to a conclusion. Their government would be based on Federalism. This form of government suited them. It gave power to the state and federal government. The state government’s powers would be more based on what its society needs. The federal government would have the power to do big and more important things, which the country needs. Both state governments and the federal government would be able to tax, borrow money, set up courts, make laws, and enforce laws. This protected tyranny by balancing powers between state governments and the federal government.
After the delegates decided they would base their government on Federalism, they went to work to decide how they would separate powers between the three branches. This was called the separation of powers. It was probably the hardest part of making the constitution. That was because the delegates were afraid that if one thing wasn’t right, there would be tyranny. They decided that the legislative branch would make the laws, the executive branch would enforce the law, and the judicial branch would examine and interpret the law. This protected the constitution from tyranny by separating powers between three branches in the federal government.
Then, the delegates decided to create a system of checks and balances. They made this so if one branch did something wrong, it could be stopped by another. This is how it worked: The executive branch checked the legislative and judicial branches; the legislative branch checked the executive and judicial; and so on. This prevented tyranny by not letting one branch do something wrong.
Even though this seems like a lot, the delegates still had other problems. How could they keep the legislative branch fair between the large and small states? They argued for hours and hours. This conflict threatened to destroy the convention. It was finally solved by the Great Compromise. The legislative branch would be made like this:
• 2 Houses
• House of Reps.- Reps. determined by population
• The Senate- 2 from each state.
That finally solved the last problem in the constitution that could create tyranny by making the legislative branch fair for all states.
(How the Constitution Prevented Things like Dictatorship, Edward Tyles answers How does the constitution prevent tyranny? at wiki.answers.com)

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