Democracy and the preservation of liberty

Democracy and the preservation of liberty


Democracy is by no means a sure preservative of liberty; on

the contrary, we see today the democratic system of government

march steadily towards such an organised annihilation

of individual liberty as could not have been dreamed of in the

old aristocratic and monarchical systems. It may be that from

the more violent and brutal forms of despotic oppression which

were associated with those systems, democracy has indeed delivered

those nations which have been fortunate enough to achieve

liberal forms of government, and that is no doubt a great gain.

It revives now only in periods of revolution and excitement,

often in the form of mob tyranny or a savage revolutionary

or reactionary repression. But there is a deprivation of liberty

which is more respectable in appearance, more subtle and systematised,

more mild in its method because it has a greater

force at its back, but for that very reason more effective and

pervading. The tyranny of the majority has become a familiar

phrase and its deadening effects have been depicted with a great

force of resentment by certain of the modern intellectuals;1 but

what the future promises us is something more formidable still,

the tyranny of the whole, of the self-hypnotised mass over its

constituent groups and units.




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