ochlocracy


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Related to ochlocracy: mobocracy
See: lynch law

OCHLOCRACY. A government where the authority is in the hands of the multitude; the abuse of a democracy. Vaumene, Dict. du Language Politique.

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In light of such complexity, it is a most remarkable achievement that Champion is able to offer, as a clear response to the old question of whether Polybius was pro- or anti-Roman, the view that it is more meaningful to see how the historian represents Rome as moving inexorably, by a cyclical process of constitutional evolution known as anacyclosis, from a height of hyper-Hellenic glory attained in the mixed constitution of the early middle Republic, to the depths of barbarism in the ochlocracy (mob rule) of the late middle Republic (chapter three, "Rome and Hellenism").
Plato, Aristotle, and Polybius all held to cyclical views of the rise and fall of governments, and each of them had been fascinated by the process by which democracy regularly degenerates into a lawless state of license or (in Polybius' terms) of ochlocracy or mob rule.
The right answer acknowledges three things: first, that it is a mistake to imagine that there are established norms of public opinion that go unaffected by state shaming; second, that we have far too little control over the way the public exercises its enforcement power--far too little control over the tendency of the public to become either a mob or a collection of petty private prison guards; and third, that allowing state-encouraged lynching involves a troubling tolerance for ochlocracy, for a democratic government too susceptible to the pitch and yaw of mob psychology.