12 April 2023

What is ochlocracy? – Know the meaning of the term ochlocracy

By Donald

In the world of politics and philosophy there are different terms that are used to describe the various forms of government that can exist in a society. One of these forms of government is the ochlocracywhich is characterized by being led by the crowd and in which decisions are made impulsively and without solid foundations.

Although the term ochlocracy is not as well known as other forms of government, it is important to understand its meaning and how does it relate to democracy and other forms of government. In this article we will explain what ochlocracy consists of, what is its origin and what are its main characteristics.

What does the word ochlocracy mean?

Ochlocracy is a term used in political philosophy to refer to a form of government in which power is in hands of the crowd or the mass, and in which decisions are made impulsively and without solid foundations. The word ochlocracy comes from the ancient Greek, where ‘oclo’ means ‘crowd’ and ‘cracy’ means ‘government’.

Some examples of ochlocracy have been recorded in history, such as the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Paris Commune of 1871. However, these cases are usually exceptional and do not last long due to the problems that can arise in such an impulsive form of government.

In Mexico, for example, some critics of the president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) have accused their government of having ochlocratic tendencies due to its populist rhetoric and the impulsive decision makingespecially on controversial issues such as the cancellation of the Texcoco airport and the construction of the Mayan Train.

What is ochlocracy in philosophy?

Ochlocracy is seen by many political philosophers as a dangerous form of governmentsince it can lead to making irrational and harmful decisions for society and for minorities.

For many political philosophers, ochlocracy is seen as an unstable form of government, which can lead to degradation of society and to the loss of individual and minority rights. Therefore, it seeks to establish government systems that allow the participation of the majority of the population, but at the same time establish institutional limits and controls that protect individual rights and fundamental freedoms.

In political philosophy, ochlocracy is related to the anacyclosis concept, which was developed by the Greek philosopher Polybius. Anacyclosis is the theory that forms of government go through recurring cycles of evolution, and that ochlocracy is one of the critical points in this cycle.

According to Polybius, the evolution of the forms of government begins with the monarchy, then passes to the aristocracy, then to democracy and finally to ochlocracy. At this point the system of government it becomes unstable and chaoticleading to a new phase of anarchy and the beginning of the cycle all over again.

What is ochlocracy in politics?

In politics, ochlocracy refers to a form of government where decisions are made impulsively and without a rigorous analysis of the ethical and political implications of the decisions made.

Ochlocracy is often considered a form of government that can lead to tyranny of the majority and the loss of individual and minority rights. In ochlocracy, the crowd can make decisions without considering the long-term consequences and without due consideration of the ethical and political implications of the decisions that are made.

What are the characteristics of ochlocracy?

The characteristics of ochlocracy are the following:

  • Political power in the hands of the crowd: In ochlocracy, political power is exercised by the crowd or the majority, without proper institutional control.
  • Lack of stable leadership: In the ochlocracy there is no stable leadership and decisions are made freely.fragmented and disorganized. This can lead to inadequate crisis management and wrong decisions.
  • Absence of institutional controls: In the ochlocracy there are no institutional controls that allow the citizen participation effective and at the same time protect individual rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Tyranny of the majority: Ochlocracy can lead to the tyranny of the majority, where the minorities have no voice or vote in making decisions.
  • Impulsive Decisions: In ochlocracy, decisions are made impulsively, without due analysis of the ethical and political implications of the decisions that are made.
  • Lack of responsibility: In ochlocracy, the people do not assume responsibility. responsibility of the decisions that are made and there is no stable leadership that can be responsible for the decisions.

What is the difference between ochlocracy and democracy?

The main difference between ochlocracy and democracy is that in ochlocracy political power is in the hands of the multitude without institutional controls, while in democracy political power is is exercised through citizen participation but with institutional checks and balances.

In ochlocracy, the majority has the power to make decisions regardless of their quality. On the other hand, in a democracy, the majority can make decisions but also protects the minority rightsthrough institutional controls, such as the separation of powers and the protection of individual rights.

Ochlocracy can lead to tyranny, while democracy seeks to prevent it through controls. In turn, democracy also promotes education and citizen participation to make more informed decisions and rational.

Another important difference between ochlocracy and democracy is that in the former, political power is concentrated in the emotions and interests of the crowd, while in democracy it seeks to make more rational decisions based on the discussion and debate.

In the ochlocracy, political leaders can be chosen not for their ability or merit, but for their ability to mobilize the masses and win their support. On the other hand, democracy seeks to elect political leaders based on their ability to represent the interests of society and make decisions for the benefit of the public. common benefit.

Regarding the form of government, ochlocracy is characterized by being authoritarian and chaotic, while democracy is based on citizen participation and the rights protection.

Examples of countries that practice or practiced ochlocracy

Historically there have been many examples of countries experiencing periods of ochlocracy. One of the best known cases is that of the ancient Greecewhere direct democracy in Athens it often turned into ochlocracy due to manipulation of the masses by populist leaders.

In the 1930sGermany experienced a period of ochlocracy during the rise to power of one of the Axis powers, the nazi party. Party leaders used demagogic tactics to gain public support, including manipulating people’s feelings of fear and anxiety. This allowed them to make unilateral decisions and take full control of the German government and society.

In some African countries cases of ochlocracy have occurred during political crises, such as in Zimbabwe, where the authoritarian regime of Robert Mugabe was replaced by the interim government of Emmerson Mnangagwa after a popular revolt in 2017. During the transition period there was an increase in the power of the masses and a weakening of government institutions, which led to some political and social instability.

In addition to the examples mentioned, there are other cases of countries that have experienced ochlocracy at different times in their history. For example, during the French Revolution there was a period of ochlocracy in which the popular masses played a fundamental role in political decision-making, which included the creation of the Public Safety Committee, which was in charge of the repression and control of any opposition to the revolution. However, this period of popular power was also marked by violence and instability.

On the other hand, in Thailandthe term of government of the prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra the early 2000s was marked by an increase in mass power and a lack of institutional control. Shinawatra used demagogic techniques to mobilize the population in their favorwhich allowed him to make unilateral decisions and weaken the country’s democratic system.