A fear of democracy runs throughout liberalism

Topics: Democracy, Political philosophy, Liberalism Pages: 3 (1083 words) Published: October 16, 2013
A fear of democracy runs throughout liberalism
The relationship between Liberalism and democracy can summed up by Winston Churchill's famous remark, "...democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms..." A fear of democracy does runs throughout 19th centrury liberals due to many reasons, one of them being their fear of collective power. On the other hand by the 20th century Democracy became more accepted in liberalism and the fear of democracy no longer remained. Plato and Aristotle viewed democracy as a “chaotic rule of masses at the expense of wisdom and property”. Nineteenth century liberals agreed with this idea as they saw democracy as dangerous and feared it. They were concerned that democracy could threaten individual liberty. Democracy is necessarily collectivist, in that it places political authority in the hands of the people who are not a single entity but are turned into a collection of individuals or groups. This contradicts the liberal principle of individuality and atomistic society. Therefore this might lead in the interests of individual citizens being ignored. In society people have different opinions and opposing interests often resulting to political instability and conflict. The democratic solution to this conflict is the application of the majority rule; the principle that the will of the majority should prevail over that of the minority. Mill feared the unintended consequences of the rule of masses. Therefore nineteenth century liberals feared the negative repercussions of democracy such as the tyranny of the majority as the principle of the majority rule can result into the suppression of individual freedom and minority rights. Majoritarianism can not only ignore the interests of the minority but it can also create a culture of dull conformism, where people according to Mill become “transformed into mere industrious sheep as they defer to the judgments of the majority based on the unfounded assumption that the...
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