Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What's Wrong With Majorities:

A minority may be right, and a majority is always wrong.
Henrik Ibsen

If the commonly held notion, that the majority opinion is, ipso facto, the right opinion, are we to assume that evils of the past, such as human slave trading as a commercial activity, were good while a majority of voters considered them so?

If there was one idea that I wish would regain popularity in media discourse, it is the notion that the the rule of law protects the minority from the majority, mob-rule is restrained by a higher law. An idea, by the way, Americans adopted from the Romans, the Greeks, the Jewish Torah, a few Teuton tribes, the French (well some of them, as in baron de Montesquieu), and the Brits (Common Law, Magna Charta, etc). Americans just got lucky with their parents, so to speak.

Which leads me to the point (like I always say, it helps to have a point). To wit:

I keep hearing on the news shows and reading in the newspapers the use of the majority argument against the war in Iraq, that is, polls showing a vast majority of Americans "against the war in Iraq." Therefore, I suppose I am to conclude that it is wrong. The war in Iraq may be wrong, I do not know if it is or isn't, but the "majority argument" has nothing to do with it, unless it is a majority of Congressman who rule that we should get out.

That is our system of government, and it is called a Republic.

(Andrew: comment, por favor)

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Can you name a really succesful tyrant who did not have the majority of popular support?