On the Fear of the People

Nothing is more unreliable or inconstant than a crowd of people, so affirms our Livy, like all the other historians […] But this sentiment against the people arises because everyone speaks badly about the people without fear and in complete freedom even while the people rule; everyone always speaks badly about princes with a thousand fears and a thousand reservations.

Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy

When unaccountable power infiltrates any matter of shared concern, this prejudice against the people will be used to protect it. Where you find contempt for popular judgment you are likely to find an apology for tyranny.


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