Tyranny of the Majority

Madison, Federalist #10:

"Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths... A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking."

Tyranny of the Majority is the Root Cause of the two general wars between Americans:

  • The Revolution:
    • Majority: English citizens who economically benefited by rules made in Parliment.
    • Exploited Minority: English citizens denied the rights of citizenship because they lived in America.
    • Path to War: Taxation without Representation.
  • The Civil War:
    • Majority: White citizens who economically benefited by rules made in Federal government and state governments supporting slavery.
    • Exploited Minority: Black Americans.
    • Path to War: Illicit Energy, dependence on energy outside self-reliance.

Tyranny of the Majority is building our current path to war of Oil Famine and Climate Change. Oil Famine was narrowly avoided in 2008 and seems unavoidable since US oil production decreased by 2 million barrels a day and the industry is in bankruptcy (2020).

My wild guess is gasoline becomes unaffordable to farmers and food to people by about 2023:

  • Oil Famine:
    • Majority: Adult citizens who voted ourselves $27 trillion more in taxes than we were willing to pay in taxes and pollute tilting the balance of nature into Climate Change.
    • Exploited Minority: Children, Posterity.
    • Paths to War: Since the 17th Amendment (1913), Federal consolidation created infrastructure "natural monopolies" in transportation (Wilson, Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1916), communications (Wilson, Executive Order, Aug 1, 1918), and energy (FDR, Rural Electrification Act of 1936). This Federal control of the means of production resulted in:
      • Nearly a century of rotary telephones. After the communications monopoly was declared unconstitutional in 1982, liberty to innovate was restored and the Internet commercialized.
      • Illicit Energy, foreign oil addiction, a dependence on energy outside self-reliance, and a century with the 25 mpg efficiency of the Model-T. Approximately 46% of 400+ ton-mpg railroads were replaced by Federal highway polices with the 25 mpg efficiency of the Model-T. Climate Change and perpetual oil-wars are a by-product.
      • Mortgaging Children ($85,035, 2021-05-29, current). Federal debts increased with oil imports and costs to fight oil-wars. Debt is the tax on future labor. As Jefferson notes in the "Earth Belongs to the Living" letter, debt beyond 19 years repayment is a tax of the labor of children imposed without consent, Taxation without Representation.

        The addition of deceit, using government debt to delay and confuse accountability is the only difference between selling a man into slavery based on race and mortgaging the labor of children based on age.

Federal violation of the Constitution's "post Roads" restriction created a "needful" majority addicted to foreign oil. Federal highway infrastructure mandates American families own 1.8 cars and buy foreign oil to be economically competitive. To buy that foreign oil, the "needful" majority voted to mortgage children for $67,000 each, deplete resources, and tilt the balance of nature into Climate Change. (Alternative, Free Market Green Deal).

Federalist #10 (Madison):

"Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together, that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful."

Democracy is an essential and flawed tool with two aspects:

  • The Wisdom of the Many is brilliant, the aggregated wisdom of all of us, with each of us acting in our own self-interests is wiser than the wisest of us at choosing between choices.
  • Tyranny of the Majority is vile. In America, Tyranny of the Majority accounts for:
    • Race-based slavery and the Civil War.
    • The annihilation of the American Indians.
    • The Internment of Japanese Americans.
    • The mortgaging of children, voters giving ourselves $21 trillion more in Federal benefits than we contributed in taxes.
    • Resource depletion with US Peak Oil in 1970 and Climate Change.

The Constitution was designed by Madison and improved by the Great Compromise in the Constitutional Convention, to make diversity the defense against Tyranny of the Majority. The Constitution divided sovereignty between two types of governments to monopolize two types of violence. The Federal government is sovereign over issues of war and coerce actions that build paths to war. The State governments are sovereign over crimes and commerce. After dividing sovereignty, the Constitution divided the war-powers of the Federal government into three branches. The Constitution divided election processes into three types, popular election by the people in the House, state legislators electing Senators, and the Electoral College aggregating popular election of the President.

This diversity defense of liberty through Divided Sovereignty and diversity of interests is explained in Federalist #9, #10, and #51. It is further explained by Madison in the Virginia ratifying convention.

The 20th Century saw the end of diversity and the winner-take-all politics increase. Seeking more power a Tyranny of the Majority formed in the early 1900s to expand the police powers of the Federal government. The desire for more conformity and less liberty is illustrated by the 18th Amendment that applied Federal war-powers to making selling a beer a Federal crime.

The majority wanted more and more. With the 17th Amendment, shifting election for Senators from state legislatures to popular election, the power of national minorities that were a majority in a state was reduced. The cost of political corruption was reduced from buying half a state legislature to merely contributing to a Senate campaign. Unions and corporations funding elections influenced the majority to vote for Senators that would tax and build infrastructure that would sell their products. A majority of voters wanted Federal highways and subsidized cars and house loans.

Federal politicians voted to violate the Divided Sovereignty of the Constitution, to mix war-powers with their commercial self-interests. Foreign oil addiction and the mortgaging of children to fund $21 trillion more in benefits than contributions were voted into place. Without the State government electing Senators to represent the economy of their states, Federal consolidation pushed aside Divided Sovereignty with states becoming supplicants, lobbying the Federal government for money.

Federalist #63:

"so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn."

Democracy has two facets, one brilliant and one vile:

  • The brilliant aspect of democracy is Wisdom from the Many. The book, The Wisdom of Crowds, provides many examples of how the aggregated wisdom of all of us, with each of us acting in our own self-interest, is wiser than the wisest of us at choosing between choices.
  • The vile aspect of democracy is Tyranny of the Majority. In America, this characteristic accounts for slavery, the annihilation of the American Indians, Jim Crow Laws, and mortgaging the liberty and labor of every child in America to $59,734 (July 16, 2016) in Federal debt without consent.

Following is a 30-minute presentation on:

  • How the Constitution was written to use Wisdom from the Many while limiting Tyranny of the Majority.
  • How the 17th Amendment unleashed Federal consolidation of power and Tyranny of the Majority.
  • Civilization Killers created by violating the Constitution.
  • How the Constitution can be used to mitigate these Civilization Killers.


Federalist #45 (Madison):

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

Federalist #51 (James Madison):

"It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure."

Factions forming a majority and imposing tyranny on the minority was viewed as the greatest threat to the survival of the republican, popular government.

Benjamin Franklin: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"

Thomas Jefferson: "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

John Adams: "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

John Quincy Adams: "Democracy has no forefathers, it looks to no posterity ; it is swallowed up in the present, and thinks of nothing but itself."

Many factions in a large republic, having diverse commercial and other interests in the internal functioning of the States, was deemed essential to protecting Liberty from the ills of factions and the tyranny of the majority. It was in fact the adding of States that finally broke the corruption of slavery.

Federalist #10 (Madison):

“AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.”

“Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths... A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking."

In the State of Nature, violence is unlimited. We create governments to monopolize violence to coerce compliance with law. We limit governments to limit coercion. With the US Constitution, we Divided Sovereignty of two monopolies of violence between two types of governments. To the Federal government we granted unlimited taxing powers to wage war and coerce behaviors that build paths to war. We alienated Federal involvement in commerce beyond delivering letters in defense of free speech, the "post Roads" restriction.  To state government, we alienated waging war and granted a monopoly of violence to coerce compliance with criminal and civil law. For all else, the people retain the liberty to create the general welfare.