Donate
News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
The State of Reform
Download Unite America’s free report
Download Unite America's free report analyzing the impact of four key political reforms.
MOST READ
Civic Ed
True
choness/iStock/Getty Images Plus

"Misleading speech is the essential element of despots, because despots need the support of the people," argues Lawrence Torcello.

Why tyranny could be the inevitable outcome of democracy

Torcello is an associate professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Plato, one of the earliest thinkers and writers about democracy, predicted that letting people govern themselves would eventually lead the masses to support the rule of tyrants.

When I tell my college-level philosophy students that in about 380 B.C. he asked "does not tyranny spring from democracy," they're sometimes surprised, thinking it's a shocking connection.

But looking at the modern political world, it seems much less far-fetched to me now. In democratic nations like Turkey, Great Britain, Hungary, Brazil and the United States, anti-elite demagogues are riding a wave of populism fueled by nationalist pride. It is a sign that liberal constraints on democracy are weakening.

Keep reading... Show less
News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.