Tamás Nyirkos provides a timely and essential reassessment of the concept of the "tyranny of the majority" for the study of democracy today. The analysis is divided into three parts: the first discusses the "prehistory" of majority tyranny; the second reviews the elements of the "standard theory" in the modern era; while the third deals with the current "postmodern" challenges to the prevailing order of liberal democracy.
Combining different elements of theories dating from the Middle Ages to the present, Nyirkos theorizes that while the term "the tyranny of the majority" may be misleading, the threat that tyrannical governments justify themselves by reference to the majority will remain with us for the foreseeable future. He shows how some of the greatest political philosophers of the past – democrats and antidemocrats alike – shared the same fears about the majoritarian principle.
The Tyranny of the Majority will offer all those who read it a better understanding of what is meant not only by this term, but also by related terms like democratic despotism, populism, or illiberal democracy. It will be of interest to scholars of politics and international relations, political philosophy, political theology, and intellectual history.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. The Greek Origins 2. The Medieval Laboratory 3. A Majoritarian Liberal 4. General Will and True Democracy 5. Revolution in the Crossfire 6. America Before Tocqueville 7. Tocqueville’s Synthesis 8. Individuals and Elites 9. The Contested Triumph of Liberal Democracy 10. A Brief Ontological Detour 11. Populism, Illiberal Democracy, Post-democracy 12. The Postmodern Challenge Conclusion
Tamás Nyirkos is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of International Studies and Political Science of Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary. His research interests include democratic theory, politics and religion, and the origins of modern political philosophies. In 2014 and 2015 he taught classes on Tocqueville at the Catholic University of Portugal and the University of Lapland. He is a member of the Public Board of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.