The Dictatorship of the Majority and the Problem of Justice in RepresentationJune 28, 2021
Democracy, on the one hand, guarantees the freedom of people in society, and on the other hand, it restricts everyone’s rights and freedoms. These restrictions are justified on the grounds of guaranteeing everyone’s rights and freedoms equally and to the same extent.
However, governments that have come to power with the tools of democracy, in some cases, do not consider equality in rights and freedoms and resort to reaching a decision with the preference of the majority. Such a situation, as we have mentioned before, will lead to discontent among individuals who are in the minority position in the society and are likely to be adversely affected by the decision in the near or distant future. The following question, brought up by David Miller, expresses this negativity quite clearly, even if it seems to be formulated in the opposite direction: “If we want political decisions to reflect a preference of individuals who will be directly affected by the consequences of these decisions, we have to make a small and almost Aren’t we in a position to listen to all people, rather than just a minority that doesn’t represent them at all?” (Miller 2003, p. 44).
Undoubtedly, it is necessary to take the opinion of the whole society on an issue that concerns the future of the whole society, but if there are groups with opposite views on the same issue in the society, should democracy consist only of the realization of the opinion held by the majority? When we answer ‘yes’ to such a question, we are formulating democracy as the dictatorship of the majority. But this is certainly not a desirable situation, and political philosophers have pondered how this negative aspect of democracy can be corrected.
Should the will of the majority be fulfilled in every situation that concerns the future of society as a whole? Answering this question affirmatively is tantamount to asserting that “Democracy allows the majority of society to be decisive over the minority or to exercise dictatorship”.
One of the thinkers who opposed the understanding of democracy as an absolute rule of the majority is John Stuart Mill. Mill, in his work On Liberty, states that a person should be able to act freely in all matters that concern himself and whose results will bind only himself, on the other hand, acting on behalf of others, in actions whose results are binding on others – especially when the aims of others are the same as his own or he emphasized that he should not have the same degree of freedom if it is based on the assumption that they overlap one-to-one (Mill 1966, p. 128). This requirement, pointed out by Mill, also applies where the majority, while expressing an opinion, acts on behalf of the minority, but violating the rights of the minority group in question. In short, those who support a certain view in society, no matter how many there are, have to take into account the people who do not support the same view as them and their preferences (ibid.).
English liberals, who followed the path of this understanding of freedom opened by Locke in the late 17th century and Mill in the mid-19th century, developed a view called pluralism at the beginning of the 20th century: Basically, the rights of minorities or minority ethnic communities in terms of being a numerical majority only. Pluralism, which advocates that it should be protected against groups or groups that are stronger than themselves, emphasized that power should be spread to as many layers of society as possible (Güçlü et al. 2008, p. 320). These social layers are understood to include many elements from religious, economic classes, to vocational and educational institutions, to non-governmental organizations, and it is argued that if the power does not spread to these layers, the problems arising from one-handed administration will not disappear (ibid.).
Pluralism is a political philosophy view that argues that power should be extended to all layers of society as much as possible and minority rights should be protected against the majority in order to overcome the problems that arise due to one-handed administration.
David Miller, despite the fact that the majority and the minority do not have a certain awareness and perspective on whether or to what extent the problem causing the disagreement will affect them in a disagreement on a particular issue, they are only critical of the realization of the preference of the numerically majority group. takes an attitude. According to him, he advocates considering not only the number and ratio of those who prefer two views, but also the strength of the preference of those who are interested in the subject, for example, regarding the prohibition of fox hunting or not (Miller 2003, pp. 44-45). In fact, the exemplary situation Miller gave is aimed at creating a basis for capitalism, which legitimizes itself through the liberal understanding of freedom, to change the balances of the minority-majority in society, especially in matters related to economic interests, through lobbying activities, and in this respect, minority-majority relations