The Slothful Tyrant

In the first volume of Democracy in America, Tocqueville warns us about a new and sinister form of oppression to which modern democratic peoples are susceptible: “the tyranny of the majority.” In olden times, abusive rulers used harsh punishments to coerce their subjects, and even just rulers were surrounded by flatterers seeking to harness publicContinue reading “The Slothful Tyrant”

Getting What We Pay For

The year is 1857. Speaking to the American Abolition Society, Frederick Douglass has to admit that the noose of slavery seems to be tightening its grip on the American regime. Despite many grim setbacks for the cause of freedom, Douglass is far from daunted: “I have come to the conclusion that from no work wouldContinue reading “Getting What We Pay For”

Beyond the Power of Man

Omnipotence in itself seems to me something bad and dangerous.  Its exercise seems to me beyond the power of man, whoever he may be; and I see only God who can, without danger, be all powerful, because his wisdom and his justice are always equal to his power. There is no authority on earth so respectableContinue reading “Beyond the Power of Man”

The Wonderous Potency of Practice

Assume a virtue, if you have it not. For use almost can change the stamp of nature, And either curb the devil, or throw him out, With wondrous potency. Thus speaks Hamlet, in an attempt to reform the character of his mother, the compromised Queen of Denmark. Alas, Hamlet ignores his own advice. Rather thanContinue reading “The Wonderous Potency of Practice”

Big Business’s Daily Exercise in Tyranny

In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson expounds the evils of slavery. In addition to the grave injustices slavery inflicts on its victims, he notes the corrupting influence this institution has on the so-called masters: The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, theContinue reading “Big Business’s Daily Exercise in Tyranny”

How Not to Resist Modern Despotism

Václav Havel was the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. Initially, his career was in drama of the literary sort, but it took a decisively political turn when he was imprisoned for fostering dissent against the communist despots oppressing his people. His 1978 essay, “The Power of the Powerless,”Continue reading “How Not to Resist Modern Despotism”

How We Learned to Love Leviathan

Tocqueville wants us to have a “salutary fear” of the new forms despotism threatens to take in modern times. Fear is a response to evil. Once we see how tyranny deprives us of essential goods, it becomes evident that it is something to be avoided, even at considerable cost. Free will being an essential partContinue reading “How We Learned to Love Leviathan”

A New Old Ideology

It is said that Orpheus’s music compelled even “the pitiless king of the dead” to grant Eurydice her freedom—though not without a catch! I don’t know if Sir George Ivan Morrison will have similar success in freeing us from the chokehold of “the rulers of the world of this darkness” (Eph. 6:12). But God blessContinue reading “A New Old Ideology”

Talking about Tyranny

In the 19th chapter of his Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes dismisses tyranny from the lexicon of modern political science. To speak of a ruler as tyrannical is nothing but name-calling. Enlightened persons cannot believe “that the government is of one kind when they like it, and another when they mislike it.” Hobbes’s intention in emotionalizing theContinue reading “Talking about Tyranny”