“Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.”

–Plato – 347 BCE

There is disparity on who actually coined the phrase, ‘the tyranny of the majority.’ John Adams is recorded to have used it in 1788. Alexis de Tocqueville, is often accredited to give it prominence in his work, ‘Democracy in America in 1835.’ John Stuart Mill propagated it in his essay, on liberty in 1859. The idea that the popular rule was oppressive ran deep.

Plato himself was distasteful of such a political paradigm. In his work, The Republic, he outlines five stages of degeneration of a socio-political utopia. Starting the cycle with ‘Aristocracy’, then ‘Timocracy’, leading to ‘Oligarchy’ and ‘Democracy’ which finally devolves into a ‘Tyranny.’ He illustrates that a democratic man is consumed by ‘unnecessary’ desires which he explains as desires which we can teach ourselves to resist such as riches. The democratic man, Plato asserts, takes great interest in all the things he can buy with his money. He does whatever he wants whenever he wants. Plato collates this to a life of anarchy, a life that has no order or priority.

Ancient Greeks coined the term, ‘demos’ meaning people and ‘kratos’ meaning ruler. This was to introduce the idea of democracy. When translated into English, democracy has come to mean ‘the rule of the people’. This ancient type of Greek democracy is what we refer to as the Athenian model.

The Athenian model is not what we perceive as completely democratic however. Considering the ‘Platonic’ critique, it made clear that by implementing such a paradigm, it gave rise to factions on its own. In its simplest sense, gave rise to ‘nominal minority’ which was put up against a nominal majority. The 49% vis-à-vis the 51%. This, as Plato sees it, is ‘The tyranny of the majority.” The execution of the will of the people with numbers.