The Majority Is Always Right

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31 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Brilliantly argued, counselor.Report

  2. Avatar Trub Okkil says:

    A theoretical danger, M.A., but not one with all that much historical evidence behind it. Experience shows us that minority viewpoints get “air time” and consideration by the electorate as a whole is consistently borne out, even in very difficult times like war — and even in those isolated incidents when certain points of view have been suppressed (always with overwhelming majority support, I note) those suppressions have been temporary and in times of crisis, and invariably relaxed after the crisis has passed.Report

    • Avatar M.A. in reply to Trub Okkil says:

      “In the long run, we’re all dead.” As important to remember regarding speech and persuasion as it is in dealing with fruitcake economic theories about how “the marketplace” will eventually make everything alright if we just laissez-faire and give it enough time.

      Suppression has been the norm in human society, not the exception. The societies that allowed for free expression, or even just moderately-free expression, tend to travel in waves. Athens was an island of such, but the Spartans and most other Greek city-states had little regard for open discourse. The Jews were something of a rarity around the other tribes in pre-anno domini times, and that a historical artifact surrounding the fact that they had made their test of manhood not a question of hunting, or physical skill, but the ability to read a passage from a book and discuss its meaning with the learned scribes and religious elders.

      Again: for most of human history, tribalism, monarchy and theocracy have been the rule. Even in the relatively open societies whitewashed by time and history, the freedoms we’ve come to expect in modern representative societies are not found. Speaking against Caesar in Rome wasn’t going to end well. Agitating an uprising for separatism from England, in any age, met with swift retribution from the Crown.

      The idea of free speech, the ability to say what you will without having your head cut off, is not a historical certainty but a historical rarity.Report

      • Avatar Trub Okkil in reply to M.A. says:

        …[F]or most of human history, tribalism, monarchy and theocracy have been the rule. Even in the relatively open societies whitewashed by time and history, the freedoms we’ve come to expect in modern representative societies are not found. … The idea of free speech, the ability to say what you will without having your head cut off, is not a historical certainty but a historical rarity.

        For most of human history, this may well be true. For the era of liberal democracy, not so much.

        Speaking against Caesar in Rome wasn’t going to end well. Agitating an uprising for separatism from England, in any age, met with swift retribution from the Crown.

        As to Rome, that depended a lot on the Caesar against whom you spoke. Many emperors were quite tolerant of dissent. As to England, Canadians and Australians and Kiwis got their independence from the Crown without significant violence.Report

        • Avatar M.A. in reply to Trub Okkil says:

          Canadians and Australians and Kiwis got their independence from the Crown without significant violence.

          They still swear allegiance to the Crown on paper. And their ability to separate came during the time when the Crown was deciding it wasn’t worth the costs of distributive leadership.

          Ask the Irish how the Crown felt about separation. Ask the Scots. Ask the Welsh. Ask the Northern Irish.Report

        • Avatar Nezitic in reply to Trub Okkil says:

          “There can be no free speech in a revolutionary period. We have the peasantry against us because we can give them nothing in return for their bread. We will have them on our side when we have something to exchange. Then you can have all the free speech you want — but not now.”Report

  3. Avatar David Ryan says:

    The post is mistitled. Should be: The Majority is Always the MajorityReport

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    It took me an hour to figure out who Trub Okkil was. Well, much more than that, actually.

    You’ve won this round, Likko.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    This is insanity. This is not self-government. It is government by a council of mandarins.

    This recalled Guy Gavriel Kay’shttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_HeavenUnder Heaven.

    I agree. Lovely. Thank you.Report