The worrying rise of mob rule

Take a look at Syria, Libya and Egypt to witness what the much-lauded Arab Spring ended up creating for those countries.

Increasingly it seems, people are choosing to express their dissatisfaction with the world through mob justice.

If it's not 'red-beret wearing' elected members of parliament taunting and jeering the State President before being violently ejected from the legislative chamber by security guards, it's ordinary South African citizens who are looting shops and burning tyres on major highways in an apparent 'cry for help' during ongoing Xenophobic violence against the influx of African migrants into the country.

In the US, a collection of far-right groups storm the Capitol building to demonstrate that they mean business, while ongoing deadly unrest in Hong Kong is justified as relevant resistance to increasing levels of political influence from authorities sitting in Beijing.

Our agency to control our destiny through the mechanism of democracy seems to be malfunctioning. In its place we have chosen violence and mob rule.

When a culture views violence as a more effective tool than the ballot box - the future of that culture is doomed.

For evidence of that - just take a look at Syria, Libya and Egypt to witness what the much-lauded Arab Spring ended up creating for those countries. Ten years on from those inspiring scenes of revolution and nobody will say that a better country was forged out of the ashes of those protests.

'Aristotle, Plato’s great pupil, distinguished between three legitimate forms of government: kingship, aristocracy and democracy. He argued that they each have their dark shadows: tyranny, oligarchy and mob rule. He then outlined the ways in which these virtuous forms of government evolve into their opposites: democracy becomes mob rule when the rich hog the society’s wealth.'

Functioning democracies defend their egalitarian utopias from potential mobocracy through properly functioning institutions of governance, but when the signals indicate that trust in those structures have given way to the alternative of mob rule then a significant effort of renewal is badly needed.  

Governments ignore the continued existence and increasing reliance on mob rule on the left and right at their peril.

Again the question needs to be asked: 'What is creating the conditions under which fear and anger are so widespread and acute that it manifests this kind of behaviour from ordinary people?'

Political theorists have been worrying about mob rule for 2,000 years
Plato’s “Republic” was, in part, a meditation on the evils of mob rule
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