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The march toward tyranny

By Joseph Randolph
web posted June 28, 2010

Supporters of President Obama resent the implication that his rule resembles a "regime" for the obvious associations that word connotes.  Meanwhile, not a few political commentators have freely used the term to describe a White House infatuated with itself and the remaking of a nation that the Obama administration is inflicting upon the American people.  Thank goodness for people like Thomas Sowell and Virginia Thomas who mince no words about the trajectory of this President's regime. 

An obvious question arises, however, about the motivations of tyranny.  In a single word, the answer is virtually always the same: anger.  All anger felt is not to be condemned of course, for it is often justified.  I think, for example, of the anger of the Tea Party Movement as particularly appropriate for people who adamantly resent having their lives and livelihoods micromanaged by arrogant and presumptuous and therefore dangerous politicians.  These dissenting people simply want their lives back lock stock and barrel, and their anger toward government originates over a government perceived to significantly deny them just that. 

The first steps of tyranny begin somewhat but necessarily softly in order to be less detectable and thus may be difficult to see by the sleepy or swooned observer.  Furthermore, in a democracy leaders must be elected, and this places aspiring candidates in dependency toward their voters, and thus candidates can scarcely run with manifest indifference or hostility toward the people.  Thus, a hopeful tyrant as well as a legitimate politician must first cross the threshold of having been elected democratically by the people, before he can serve over them. 

Of course the hopeful tyrant and his minions may manipulate the voting process in some illicit way to favor themselves, but the fact is that there is the necessity of the candidate being elected by the ballot.  Even so, the hopeful tyrant can alter or throw an election by devious means of vote getting, and such tyrants are rarely squeamish about the manner of getting the needed votes.  They just need to get them. 

If the needed voters are not up to their task, moreover, the voters may make a gross error in their selection of who shall take high office and thus permit the tyrant to take it.  Thomas Jefferson perhaps indicated this possibility most perfectly when he urged that a democracy cannot long persist without intelligent voters.  Thus, the march to tyranny will cultivate bountiful groups of voters who require little more than promises of entitlements, thus enabling the tyrant to march into office with plentiful and shrewdly harvested votes. 

Thus, the rightful anger one feels toward tyranny, at least one arising out of a democracy, is as much due to the people electing the tyrant as to the tyrant elected. 

Having elected an aspiring tyrant, we return to our question and answer; from whence cometh he?  From anger, but his anger is over the fact—and indeed it is a fact—that his world, or his country, has not been perfect.  His rancor is most often over the inequality that comes with a society and his vision thus apt to be one of remaking his country.   His ploy will then be to eradicate inequality by way of forming the perfect society out of increasingly enforced equality: in a word, socialism.  From such aspiration come forth policies ruinous to the people who elected him—both from those from whom he takes, and to those to whom he gives.   

But if ill-conceived anger precipitates tyranny, it nevertheless parades itself as righteous anger, with moral language abounding.  But it is not; it is vengeful anger that all people do not share the same wallet.  Therefore, this kind of tyranny must prod and then force such differences to be eliminated.  This effort understandably requires government to be colossal and if required, lethal.  So a tyrannous government is always large and yearning to be larger to exert more control, though deceptively presenting its growth as aspiring for more equality.  Jefferson's famous axiom that that government is best which governs least is lost to tyrants who will never admit it, simply because small government presents so few possibilities for tyranny. ESR

Joseph Randolph is an academic and writer living in Wisconsin.  His 2010 book Debilitating Democracy: Power From The People, is available from Wasteland Press and Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble.  His email address is jqrandolph@hotmail.com.   

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