Zinn On Anarchism, Majority Rule and The Nation State

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“Rousseau once said, if I am part of a group of 100 people, do 99 people have the right to sentence me to death, just because they are majority?

No, majorities can be wrong, majorities can overrule rights of minorities. If majorities ruled, we could still have slavery. 80% of the population once enslaved 20% of the population. While run by majority rule that is ok. That is a very flawed notion of what democracy is.

Democracy has to take into account several things—proportionate requirements of people, not just needs of the majority, but also needs of the minority. And also has to take into account that majority, especially in societies where the media manipulates public opinion, can be totally wrong and evil. So yes, people have to act according to conscience and not by majority vote.”

The AK Press Blog has an insightful interview with Howard Zinn, who died yesterday, about his anarchist beliefs and how they might be put into action in today’s political climate.


Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →