Tag Archives: Tyrant

The evils of democracy and the mob: Quotes from some of the greatest minds in history.

Fisher Ames: “A democracy is a volcano, which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption, and carry desolation in their way.”

John Jay: “Pure democracy, like pure rum, easily produces intoxication, and with it a thousand mad pranks and fooleries.”

Lord Acton: “The one prevailing evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”

George Washington: “It is one of the evils of democratical governments, that the people, not always seeing and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act.”

Alexander Hamilton: “If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy.”

Alexander Hamilton: “Real liberty is neither found in despotism, nor in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”

James Madison: “Where a majority are united by a common sentiment, and have an opportunity, the rights of the minor party become insecure.”

James Madison: “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

Alexis de Tocqueville: “The will of the nation is one of those phrases most widely abused by schemers and tyrants of all ages.”

Cicero: “No tempest or conflagration, however great, is harder to quell than mob carried away by the novelty of power.”

Cicero: “This excessive licence, which the anarchists think is the only true freedom, provides the stock, as it were, from which a tyrant grows.”

Plato: “Is it not the excess and greed of this and the neglect of all other things that revolutionizes this constitution too and prepares the way for the necessity of a dictatorship?”

Plato: “And is it not true that in like manner a leader of the people who, getting control of a docile mob, does not withhold his hand from the shedding of tribal blood, but by the customary unjust accusations brings a citizen into court and assassinates him, blotting out a human life, and with unhallowed tongue and lips that have tasted kindred blood, banishes and slays and hints at the abolition of debts and the partition of lands.”

Plato: “And a democracy, I suppose, comes into being when the poor, winning the victory, put to death some of the other party, drive out others, and grant the rest of the citizens an equal share in both citizenship and offices.”

Plato called democracy “a delightful form of government, anarchic and motley, assigning a kind of equality indiscriminately to equals and unequals alike!”

Polybius: “And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.”

Another trailer for The Path to Tyranny

The Path to Tyranny book trailer

A roundup of reviews: ‘Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers’ and ‘The Path to Tyranny’

In the past two weeks, my books have received a number of positive reviews. Here’s a roundup:

Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers

Very Educational and Entertaining read

I picked up Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers as I had read Michael Newton’s previous book The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny and really enjoyed it. His new book lives up to the same quality as the previous one and I would highly recommend both to anybody.

The book covers the social side of the American revolution and covered aspects of the whole thing that I was largely unaware of. The American revolution is often compared to the French revolution, with the American revolution being seen as the thinking mans revolution and the French revolution as the revolution of the mob. It was fascinating to see how close the grand American experiment came to becoming just another “also ran” mob based revolution and how the genius of the founding fathers prevented it descending into one.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough as a behind the scenes look at a time in history that came perilously close to going off the rails.

Superb Analysis, Enlightening!

This book provides excellent analysis of the founding of our nation. There is enough history to keep the story flowing, but the span of years involved could not possibly be covered in depth as pure history…the genius of this book is the political and economic and governmental/legal analysis. The author describes the angry mobs of our American Revolution, the leadership of the Founding Fathers, the course of the Revolutionary War (with a number of surprising facts accompanying the analysis), the weakness of the Articles of Confederation, the forming of our Constitution (and the author ducks no thorny subjects, for example there is extensive analysis of slavery), and the early years of the fledgling Republic. Many of the financial issues (central Bank, taxation, size and scope of government) are a “distant mirror” (to borrow Barbara Tuchman’s phrase) of our times. The analysis is crisp, thorough, and based on the evidence. The bottom line comes from Hamilton: “Liberty without government leads to anarchy while government without liberty leads to tyranny.”

Michael E. Newton has done it again.

Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution is chock full of interesting facts, startling patterns, and answers to questions that were never raised in my social studies classes. Who knew that all of the colonists weren’t English? How could I have studied the revolution and never heard the name Apollos Rivoire? Of course western expansion needed the railroads to be developed first. Why didn’t anybody ever tell me that before?

If today’s Tea Party, by virtue of its very name, is a throwback to the angry mobs of yesteryear, who are the people who will step up to be our new founding fathers?

The angry mobs brought us a revolution. The founding fathers developed the miracle of our Constitution, to prevent that revolution from descending into chaos, anarchy and tyranny.

Michael E. Newton presents the American revolution and the twists and turns of the first decades of our country in a book that is readable and enjoyable, one that I wish I could have read years ago.

The Path to Tyranny

Past Futures by Ana the Imp

The Path to Tyranny is a lucid and compelling treatment of an important subject, one that should be of interest to all who value liberty… An important book that really does speak to the times, a book that holds up a Janus-like mirror to the present, showing past futures.

Read the whole lengthy review…

Counter Argument

This book was disturbingly amazing in its review of historical events. It is well cited and developed and even though the author writes from his own political perspective not even the most hardened leftist could argue the historical data presented in this book. That by itself is the most disturbing aspect of it. I can only hope that more and more Americans read this book and discover the path we are truly teetering on.

Be Very Afraid

Michael E. Newton’s THE PATH TO TYRANNY is a compressed and incredibly well-written and researched book. Let me warn you: it is more frightening than a Stephen King novel. Mr. Newton analyzes ancient and recent societies, explaining how they came about, how they prospered, and how they descended into totalitarianism and disappeared. Newton’s account of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire alone is worth the price of admission. The amount of facts and history he crams into the chapter is impressive. Same goes for Russia’s wild ride from absolute monarchs through revolution then communism, and Germany’s path from defeat in WWI through hyperinflation and the hapless Weimar Republic to Adolf Hitler.

By far the scariest, though, is Chapter 8: The United States of America. The parallels Newton draws from previous civilizations descending into oppressive autocracies to the path of the present day U.S. is frightening. Before they cratered, all the societies followed the same pattern: villification of the successful and redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation; expansion of government and bureaucracy; the rise of an exalted political class; promotion of pure democracy over the principles of a republic; the emergence of one person, a dictator or tyrant who crushes freedom and liberty with the promise to return the crumbling society to its former glory. Mr. Newton’s succinct final chapter about the U.S. includes a sub-chapter about the complexity of federal laws, which now include over 4,000 crimes defined and buried deep in the federal register, unknown to anyone until nabbed by a federal toady who cries “gotcha.” The sub-chapter is entitled “We Are All Criminals Now.” Bravo Michael E. Newton. Please tell us more.

Tea Party Tyrants

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) called the tea party “tyrants” in a tweet on August 7 because its members supposedly blocked a bigger and better deal from being approved.

Disregarding what effect the tea party had on the debt ceiling negotiations, there is absolutely no comparison between the tea party and tyrants. Aristotle writes:

A tyrant, as has often been repeated, has no regard to any public interest, except as conducive to his private ends; his aim is pleasure.

The tea party has not promoted a single idea to promote its “private ends.” Instead, it has promoted ideas that it believes would benefit the entire nation. Democrats may disagree with the tea party’s agenda, but it is ridiculous to assert that the tea party’s “aim is pleasure.”

I can hear the liberals complaining that Aristotle’s definition of tyrant is old and out-dated. Let’s turn to a more modern and American definition. A definition that was essential in the creation of the Constitution and our republican. James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 47:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Let’s see here. The tea party controls none of the branches of government. In fact, the Republicans do not even fully control a branch of government. (They control half of the legislative branch and 5 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices could be considered Republican, but the Senate is Democrat as is the President.)

But James Madison wrote that more than two hundred years ago. Many liberals don’t think the Constitution and our Founding Fathers are relevant any more. So let’s check an even more recent definition, Merriam-Webster:

1
a : an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution
b : a usurper of sovereignty
2
a : a ruler who exercises absolute power oppressively or brutally
b : one resembling an oppressive ruler in the harsh use of authority or power

Hmm, the tea party fits none of those definitions either. The tea party is not an absolute ruler, has not usurped the nation’s sovereignty, is not a ruler with absolute power acting oppressively or brutally, and is not an oppressive ruler acting harshly.

I’d be very interested to hear by what definition the tea party are tyrants.

– Michael E. Newton is the author of the highly acclaimed The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny. His newest book, Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution, was released by Eleftheria Publishing in July.

Most popular quotes from The Path to Tyranny

Amazon’s Kindle has a cool feature that enables readers to highlight passages. Amazon is then able to record this and show the most popular passages from the book. Here are most popular highlights from the Kindle version of The Path to Tyranny:

Aristotle calls democracy a perversion of constitutional government in the interest of the needy.

In 1914, John Basil Barnhill said in a debate about socialism, “Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”[†]

politicians promise the right to high quality education, the right to free or affordable health care and housing, and many more so-called rights. These are not genuine rights. They are benefits at the expense of others. The rights to private property, free speech, and freedom of religion are true rights because they have no cost.

Choosing an absolute ruler and the organizational skills of a large government is often advantageous in a time of crisis, but the difficult part is rolling back the large government and tyranny after the emergency has ended, which Athens was unable to do.

Therefore, the best way to prevent invasion and coup is to maintain a small and decentralized government with a strong defense, a well-armed population, and the courage to defend one’s rights and liberty.

More than two thousand years ago, the Greek historian Polybius warned that “democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence” as the people grow more “accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others.”[14]

A drawback of large government with control over people’s lives is that it attracts ruthless men of ambition who wish to use the power of government for their own benefit.

Nevertheless, this use of government power to direct or coordinate society is a form of tyranny, because there can be no greater tyranny than an individual or group controlling the lives of an entire population, even if popularly elected.

The senators had hoped that killing Caesar would solve Rome’s problems, but the problem was not just Caesar the dictator, it was also the people’s desire to use government as a tool to redistribute land and wealth.

The tyrant also builds grand public works, acting as if he is helping the people, but his real goal is to impoverish them and keep them occupied.

 

Arabs waking up? We shall see.

One political analyst told AP:

Arab peoples used to fear their authoritarian regimes. Things have changed and now Arab leaders fear their peoples.

Reminds me of a famous, often misattributed, quote by John Basil Barnhill:

Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.

Let us hope and pray these authoritarian regimes are replaced by something better. As I write in The Path to Tyranny:

Furthermore, once tyranny is established, it is difficult to abandon. Most often, upon the death or overthrow of one tyrant, another tyrant takes his place. Aristotle points out that “a tyranny often changes into a tyranny, as that at Sicyon changed from the tyranny of Myron into that of Cleisthenes.” Sian Lewis gives an even more impressive example: “When one looks before a tyrant such as Pittacus or Cypselus to see what kind of government they replaced, one tends to find not aristocracies or monarchies, but an infinite regress of tyrants, each apparently overthrown by a successor in the name of liberty: at Mytilene, for instance, Pittacus overthrew the tyrant Myrsilus, who had in turn overthrown Melanchrus, and before Melanchrus we hear of Megacles, who put down the rule of the club-wielding Penthelidai.”

This succession of one tyrant followed by another makes it all the more important to avoid the first tyrant. Plutarch reports that Solon “uttered the famous saying, that earlier it had been easier for them to hinder the tyranny, while it was in preparation; but now it was a greater and more glorious task to uproot and destroy it when it had been already planted and was grown.”

Overthrowing authoritarianism and replacing it with republicanism will not be an easy task. But for the first time in recent history, it appears that the Arabs desire and are willing to fight for true freedom.

Britain on the path to tyranny?

The title of my book and the blog is The Path to Tyranny. The book describes how the demand for free gifts from the government leads to tyranny. But this road does not always lead straight to tyranny. It often falls into anarchy first.

Today’s headline at Drudge Report:

ANARCHY IN THE UK: PROTESTERS ATTACK ROYALS!So how exactly does anarchy lead to tyranny? First, I’ll share a couple of quotes from some people much smarter than me.

John Adams in A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America:

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.

Plato’s Republic:

And so the probable outcome of too much freedom is only too much slavery in the individual and the state… from the height of liberty, I take it, the fiercest extreme of servitude.

Montesquieu explains exactly how anarchy leads to tyranny in his Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline:

For in a free state in which sovereignty has just been usurped, whatever can establish the unlimited authority of one man is called good order, and whatever can maintain the honest liberty of the subjects is called commotion, dissension, or bad government.

I already expounded upon this quote in a previous blog post:

This is the real reason so many today advocate anarchy and anti-globalization. They do not really want anarchy. Instead, they want to establish a situation which would call for immediate order, to be established by the government and “intellectual elites.” First stage is anarchy, second is totalitarianism. These “anarchists” hope they can direct events towards socialism, as they successfully did in Russia in the 1910s and attempted to do in Italy and Germany, though other collectivist regimes beat out the socialists and communists, though both the Fascists and Nazis adopted socialist platforms to win favor among the people.

The ultimate result of the anarchy spreading through Europe is not yet known. History shows that this often, but not always, leads to tyranny.

The situation reminds me of Germany in the 1920s, except that all of Europe and the United States is in a similar situation to the Weimar Republic with huge deficits and debts that cannot be paid off. That led to the tyranny of the Nazis. Will we be able to avoid the mistakes of the past?

Favorite Quotes from Aristotle’s Politics

More than 2000 years ago, Aristotle literally wrote the book on politics. Aristotle’s Politics most certainly rivals and probably exceeds Plato’s Republic and Machiavelli’s Prince in its understanding and explanation of political philosophy, though it seems to be less popular than those other works. Aristotle’s Politics was possibly the most influential political book until Montesquieu wrote his Spirit of the Laws, which our Founding Fathers relied on quite heavily in developing the United States Constitution.

In writing The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny, I used Aristotle’s Politics as a prime source for information on ancient Greek politics and political philosophy in general. Here, I share some of my favorite quotes.

Aristotle’s principles of liberty:

One principle of liberty is for all to rule and be ruled in turn. [Politics Book 6 Part 2]

The majority must be supreme, and that whatever the majority approve must be the end and the just. Every citizen, it is said, must have equality. [Politics Book 6 Part 2]

A man should live as he likes. This, they say, is the privilege of a freeman, since, on the other hand, not to live as a man likes is the mark of a slave. This is the second characteristic of democracy, whence has arisen the claim of men to be ruled by none, if possible, or, if this is impossible, to rule and be ruled in turns; and so it contributes to the freedom based upon equality. [Politics Book 6 Part 2]

Aristotle’s definition of tyranny:

For tyranny is a kind of monarchy which has in view the interest of the monarch only. [Politics Book 3 Part 7]

Aristotle explains the motivations of tyrants:

A tyrant, as has often been repeated, has no regard to any public interest, except as conducive to his private ends; his aim is pleasure. [Politics Book 5 Part 10]

The idea of a king is to be a protector of the rich against unjust treatment, of the people against insult and oppression. Whereas a tyrant, as has often been repeated, has no regard to any public interest, except as conducive to his private ends; his aim is pleasure, the aim of a king, honor. Wherefore also in their desires they differ; the tyrant is desirous of riches, the king, of what brings honor. And the guards of a king are citizens, but of a tyrant mercenaries. [Politics Book 5 Part 10]

As of oligarchy so of tyranny, the end is wealth; (for by wealth only can the tyrant maintain either his guard or his luxury). [Politics Book 5 Part 10]

Aristotle explains how men became tyrants:

In any of these ways an ambitious man had no difficulty, if he desired, in creating a tyranny, since he had the power in his hands already, either as king or as one of the officers of state. Thus Pheidon at Argos and several others were originally kings, and ended by becoming tyrants; Phalaris, on the other hand, and the Ionian tyrants, acquired the tyranny by holding great offices. [Politics Book 5 Part 10]

Panaetius at Leontini, Cypselus at Corinth, Peisistratus at Athens, Dionysius at Syracuse, and several others who afterwards became tyrants, were at first demagogues. [Politics Book 5 Part 10]

History shows that almost all tyrants have been demagogues who gained the favor of the people by their accusation of the notables. At any rate this was the manner in which the tyrannies arose in the days when cities had increased in power. [Politics Book 5 Part 10]

Aristotle explains the ruthlessness of tyrants:

Another mark of a tyrant is that he likes foreigners better than citizens, and lives with them and invites them to his table; for the one are enemies, but the Others enter into no rivalry with him. [Politics Book 5 Part 11]

From democracy tyrants have borrowed the art of making war upon the notables and destroying them secretly or openly, or of exiling them because they are rivals and stand in the way of their power; and also because plots against them are contrived by men of this class, who either want to rule or to escape subjection. [Politics Book 5 Part 10]

Aristotle explains how tyrants oppress the people:

These are, (1) the humiliation of his subjects; he knows that a mean-spirited man will not conspire against anybody; (2) the creation of mistrust among them; for a tyrant is not overthrown until men begin to have confidence in one another; … (3) the tyrant desires that his subjects shall be incapable of action, for no one attempts what is impossible, and they will not attempt to overthrow a tyranny, if they are powerless. [Politics Book 5 Part 11]

Another practice of tyrants is to multiply taxes, after the manner of Dionysius at Syracuse, who contrived that within five years his subjects should bring into the treasury their whole property. [Politics Book 5 Part 11]

The people, having to keep hard at work, are prevented from conspiring. The Pyramids of Egypt afford an example of this policy; also the offerings of the family of Cypselus, and the building of the temple of Olympian Zeus by the Peisistratidae, and the great Polycratean monuments at Samos; all these works were alike intended to occupy the people and keep them poor. [Politics Book 5 Part 11]

The tyrant is also fond of making war in order that his subjects may have something to do and be always in want of a leader. [Politics Book 5 Part 11]

McConnell talks about the path to tyranny

One of today’s top headlines:

McConnell: Health Care Reform Leads America On A Path To Tyranny

McConnell’s actual statement:

“By preventing the accumulation of excessive power, the Constitution is designed to reduce the risk of tyranny or abuse at either the Federal or state levels,” McConnell told the audience of conservative legal scholars. “The health care bill would remove an important bulwark of this protection.”

Wouldn’t it be great if somebody wrote a book about this? Maybe he could call this book The Path to Tyranny.