Today we are going to explore the topic of tyranny.
People often talk about freedom but in reality, they are talking about a lesser degree of tyranny. What do we mean by that? In order to fully explore this topic we need to go back in history and review what’s going on and what’s been going on since the dawn of human kind. At the end of this lesson, we will realize that for now, our best option is tyranny. Strange, isn’t it?
IN THE BEGINNING
In the beginning, people were not organized and were at the mercy of natural events. Those natural events were the first tyranny that people ever experienced. When it rained, they got wet. When they couldn’t catch any animals or gather any fruit they got hungry. At night it was obscure, they couldn’t see anything and were at the mercy of predators. All those elements combined created a large arbitrary power that people were subjected to. People had no way out of that tyranny other than their own ingenuity.
People grew out of tyranny through brainpower. They discovered fire to eliminate the night and protect themselves against predators. They discovered caves to shelter themselves from the elements and later on, they built huts to be even more protected. They originally hunted and gathered but eventually farmed their own food. People outgrew this natural tyranny through imagination by empowering themselves. This is how we evolved and this is how evolution worked for us.
LEADERSHIP IS BORN
As people realized what they could do, they also started to realize that there were benefits in working together.
For one, there is the division of labor. People specialized and through this specialization eliminated the need for everybody to be good at everything. They could now exchange items and trade, and in this manner elevate their standards of living. In this manner, all the skills and advantages of talented of people were utilized to a much higher level.
They also realized that having some sort of leadership made life more productive because of two factors. With a clear leadership it was possible to settle differences in a non-destructive way.
It was now also possible to provide for better mutual security. People understood that in a fight the concept of everybody on its own doesn’t work. If the defending force can behave as a coherent unit their chances of success multiplied.
Because of these and other reasons, people decided to have a leadership.
They also began to recognize that in order to have those benefits leadership had to be absolute. Whatever the leader said it had to be done or the process would not work. There was no discussion and there was no input.
This is the second tyranny that people suffered. However, this time tyranny was imposed on the people by the people themselves.
That’s how kings were born. In essence, kings were absolute authoritarian rulers, which could dictate anything to anybody.
OLIGARCHY IS BORN
Eventually, people realized that there were better ways to continue having the advantages of leadership without such a level of authoritarianism and arbitrarity. This is how leadership evolved. People started to gather so they could talk, share their views and call leaders to answer for their deeds.
The main problem with absolute leadership was that everybody wanted to be king because this offered the highest profit and power. To be rich and to be sovereign was the goal.
Unfortunately, the only way to become king was by conquering a kingdom, which meant war against an existing king. Kings soon realized that they could not be at war all the time against all aspirants because they simply did not have the economic means. So they reached a compromise. This compromise dictated that the king would share reaches with the few selected ones who commanded armies. In return, these few ones swore obedience to the king. This was a win-win agreement. The king could now pursue the lofty goal of becoming richer and at the same time, he had large armies at his disposal to defend himself.
In this manner, many would-be kings would be satisfied with their level of income through pillage or taxation and they would not bother the king.
That’s how the hierarchical monarchical system was born. It was a simple business arrangement between kings and would-be kinks. Money for protection.
STILL TOO MUCH ARBITRARITY
Of course, the system didn’t work all the time. There were plenty of wars in the early history of humanity testifying to that.
Eventually, the oligarchy supporting the king realized that this business arrangement didn’t work for them. What was the point of having large profits if the king could take them away anytime and for any reason?
They wanted something better, not something arbitrary. They wanted some degree of sovereignty. So they forced kings to listen to their demands. One of such historical moments was that of the Magna Carta. It said a number of things but the most important one was that the hierarchy under the king could only be judged by their own peers. This way they insulated themselves from kings’ arbitrarity.
This is all great if you belong to the oligarchy. But what happens if you belong to the populous, the peasants? They were still under a sovereign tyranny, which is to say an arbitrary tyranny. Sharing of power was only done at the highest level.
The hierarchy that extracted their sovereignty from kings became a formal oligarchy that kept imposing their will on the people. Tyrants changed but people were still under the same type of tyranny.
This unsustainable state of events eventually evolved different political systems and theories, which in term developed into democracy. This was a great achievement, but democracy is still a heavily flawed system.
The theory behind the democratic process is that the majority of the people decides what will happen to everybody. In other words, sovereignty is further passed down from an oligarchy and onto people’s majority. Or at least this is how it is supposed to work. Now consider the following.
Even in the most pristine democratic process where majority is defined by 50% plus one of the votes (or even in theoretical and more demanding scenarios of 60% or 70% or 80% or even 99%) there is always a percentage of people that will disagree with the decisions taken by the majority. Yet, they are forced to abide by those rules whether they like them or not.
And so the tyranny of the oligarchy was replaced by tyranny of democracy or the tyranny of the majority.
Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.
Continue to Our Best Option Is Tyranny - Part II