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Unformatted text preview: tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant -- society collectively over the separate individuals who compose it -- its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism. HISTORY PROVES DEMOCRACY IS DANGEROUS; WE MUST ERR TOWARD CAUTION Alan Ryan, Department of Politics, Princeton University, THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO HOBBES, 1996, p. 210. Hobbes took to heart Thucydides' message that democracies collapse into factionalism and chaos as their search for freedom and glory ends in civil war and self-destruction. Hobbes's first work was historical and so was the work of h...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13