To understand the principles of constitutional republican
government, one must understand the principles of its opposite. The
Founders of the United States generally called it tyranny,
but the 19th and 20th centuries have developed supporting doctrines or
ideologies of tyranny. Such doctrines go by various names, reflecting
subtleties of exposition and ostensible purpose: fascism,
national socialism, totalitarianism,
authoritarianism, collectivism, communism,
or statism. For the tyranny of the majority we have
majoritarianism, which has often appeared under the
labels of "socialism", "progressivism" or "liberalism", the last
originally referring to its opposite. That opposite today is usually
referred to as "libertarianism" or "constitutionalism". The following
are some works that examine the principles of tyrannical government.
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of Tyranny, Jon Roland (2000) — Introduction and
on Tyranny — Brief statements that make important
Of Tyranny (Della
tirannide), Vittorio Alfieri, (1777) tr. Julius Molinaro &
Beatrice Corrigan — Work of an Italian dramatist which led to the
establishment of an Italian republic.
Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848) —
Statement of their objectives.
Man versus the State, Herbert Spencer (1884) — How
the servants try to become the masters and majorities become oppressive.
Doctrine of Fascism, Benito Mussolini (1932) —
Provided tyranny a formal doctrine.
Site — Collection of works, useful for scholars.
Kampf, Adolph Hitler (1939) — The doctrine of
Farm, George Orwell [Eric Blair] (1946) —
Cautionary tale of how revolutions are betrayed.
Eighty-Four, George Orwell [Eric Blair] (1949) —
Dystopian tale of endless totalitarian nightmare and the logic and
methods of tyranny.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of
its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under
robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber
baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us
without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
— C.S. Lewis
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every
assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the
Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good
intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they
mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be
masters. — Daniel Webster
I am sure there was no man born marked of God above
another for none comes into the world with a saddle upon his back,
neither any booted and spurred to ride him. — Last words of Richard
Rumbold before being hanged for planning an insurrection against the
tyrant Charles II, 1679
Of course the people don't want war... That is
understood. But... it's always a simple matter to drag the people along
whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament, or a
communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be
brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do
is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for
lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the
same in any country. — Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg trials, 1946
from Nuremberg Diary, by G. M. Gilbert.