more from Baron de Montesquieu

Single Idea 20007

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / c. Despotism]

Full Idea

There are two sorts of tyranny: that which is real and consists of the violence of government; and the tyranny of opinion, when those who govern institute things contrary to a nation's mode of thought.

Gist of Idea

Tyranny is either real violence, or the imposition of unpopular legislation


Baron de Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws (rev. 1757) [1748], 19.03)

Book Reference

Montesquieu,Baron de: 'Selected Political Writings', ed/tr. Richter,Melvin [Hackett 1990], p.207

A Reaction

By this reckoning the abolition of the death penalty by the UK partliament was tyrannous, as it went against popular enthusiasm for it. Representative democracy is always in danger of drifting towards mild tyranny.