The Causes and the Solutions to Political Tyranny

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Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Body of the Study
  • The Problem
  • Analysis of Alternatives
  • Alternatives In-Line with Natural Law
  • Recommended Solutions
  • Conclusion


With great power comes great responsibility. Being powerful does not mean you should, or you can control people. Though, in tyrannical government administration, abuse of power is exercised as a single person rules due to the extent of his/her supremacy. In this case, a revolution comes to the minds of the subjects to the evils of this tyranny. A revolution or a resistance against imperious rulers that should give these suppressed people freedoms and the right to choose a better leader that would serve them their interests. In the end, according to the natural law, revolutions can become an accepted ethical solution however, people should also become aware of themselves as violence never became an answer against another violence.

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In Swartz’ study of Tyranny and the Law, it is mentioned that man as a political being must attain his proper end and the highest form of life and of virtue. It is also written that the political nature of man has a bearing upon the treatment of political obligation. The state would not be possible without authority, and without those who are wiser and more righteous having command over the rest. The idea of sin is confined to narrow limits, merely to explain certain inevitable hardships of social and political experience, such as the penal character of laws or the existence of unjust rulers. Politics imply moral responsibility. The door is, therefore, shut to the modern glorification of political leadership, though not to a proper appreciation of leadership as such. Prudence is a virtue - the virtue of good council and right decision - and nowhere does that virtue shine more brightly than in the leadership of men. The divine origin of political government anticipated some of the most widely held interpretations of obedience to government or political office bearers. Honor must be attached to the office of a ruler and not to the person filling the office. Office of the ruler is ordained of God for men's benefit (Swartz, 2010).

According to Aristotle, the organization of people into states with governments is a key component of achieving their happiness and satisfaction in life. In such type of government like tyranny, there were several tyrants who actually did good things for the people. These tyrants ruled by helping the people in ways such as promising the people more rights, lowering their taxes, and using their army to protect the people. On the other hand, they lead people not into a good life but otherwise because of its cruelty and inconsiderate administration. In a tyranny government, the power to make decisions is in the hands of one person, usually called a tyrant or dictator, who has taken control illegally. Tyrants became known for holding power through cruel and unfair methods. From about 650 B.C.E. to 500 B.C.E., people in some Greek city-states looked to men who claimed that they wanted to overthrow kings or oligarchs and to make life better for the people. These men became tyrants because they just took over power— usually throwing out the current leader with violence. Even though they both have only one person who rules, a tyranny is different from a monarchy. Tyrants rule by taking over power. They are not given the right to have power (unlike a king who takes power because his father was also king). Most tyrants tried to scare the people into accepting their power. But Even though some tyrants used their power for good, there were always cruel and harsh tyrants than good ones. This eventually caused the people in many city-states to revolt and use their strength in numbers to throw the tyrant out of power.

This paper discusses the issue arising between a tyrannical government and its people. It aims to expound the points from where people are encouraged to revolt against its tyrants or rulers and to determine whether they have the right to make this action by taking into account the Natural Law of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Body of the Study

The Problem

When the proposed Constitution was before the people for ratification, many anti-Federalists worried that the new government would be too powerful, and could become tyrannical. In Federalist No. 46, James Madison reassured the public that the many checks and balances in the Constitution — the separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, for example — made it very unlikely that a tyrant could seize power. If a tyrant did, he would speedily be deposed by the state governments, who would lead the armed people in the militias.

The question is, considering the Natural Law of St. Thomas Aquinas which emphasizes the rights and duties of man, can an individual revolt for his and his co-actor’s wellness against his tyrant? Many people are encouraged to do so because of unanticipated cruelty of the administration yet some are scared to face the ruler because of having no backups to protect their lives. Regarding this, the researchers aim to dstinguish the highest potential of human rights and the most possible solutions to prevent the worsening of a tyrannical government.

Analysis of Alternatives

Tyranny is a very undesirable state where an individual uses his/her supreme power on manipulating and ruling the government by scaring and exhibiting their wealth and power over other people. However, can ordinary people revolt against these overwhelming tyrants who holds power and men? What are the things people under tyranny can do to safeguard themselves from the dangers brought by tyranny?

Be aware of your government. It is according to Roland (2000), that the key to avoiding tyrannical government circumstances is to always detect tendencies that you think might lead to tyranny. It is also the duty of the people to suppress these tendencies before they go too far or become too firmly established. The people must never comply in any violation of the Constitution. Thus, failure to take corrective measures may result to a more severe trials that will have to be taken later, perhaps with the loss of life and the disturbance of the society in ways from which recovery may take a long period of time.

Furthermore, according to Bulama Bukarti (2017), national security forces should be upholding the rule of law without resorting to any violence it already is. We cannot defeat tyranny with tyranny. Hence, in order to demolish tyranny, we have to not only counter their ideas but also offer an alternative, superior way of life.

Furthermore, according to (2018), here are some alternatives gathered that would help strengthen the case of men revolting against tyrannical administrations:

Do not obey in advance. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do. Defend institutions. It is institutions that help us to preserve decency. They need our help as well. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you make them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions do not protect themselves. So choose an institution you care about and take its side. Beware the one-party state. The parties that remade states and suppressed rivals were not omnipotent from the start. They exploited a historic moment to make political life impossible for their opponents. So support the multi-party system and defend the rules of democratic elections.

Remember professional ethics. When political leaders set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become important. It is hard to subvert a rule-of-law state without lawyers, or to hold show trials without judges. Authoritarians need obedient civil servants, and concentration camp directors seek businessmen interested in cheap labor.

Be wary of paramilitaries. When the guys with weapons who have usually claimed to be against the gadget start sporting uniforms and marching around with torches and pix of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the reliable police and navy intermingle, the cease has come. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on the internet is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate propaganda campaigns (some of which come from abroad). Take responsibility for what you communicate to others. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

Contribute to good causes. Be active in organizations, political or not, that express your own view of life. Pick a charity or two and set up autopay. Learn from peers in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties in the United States are an element of a larger trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports. Listen for dangerous words. Be alert to the use of the word’s extremism and terrorism. Be alive to the fatal notions of emergency and exception. Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny.

Alternatives In-Line with Natural Law

The doctrine of natural law is pivotal to Thomas Aquinas's treatment of the state and politics. Natural law is the duty of the state, the ground upon which social and political relations can be secured and comprehended. It is, therefore, the duty of the state to protect and improve the rights of its members. It acts against its natural function, the function for which it exists, if it harms rather than helps a single one of its members for the sake of benefiting all the others (Swartz, 2010). To seek for what the paper has to address (whether one can revolt against a tyrannical government administration), alternatives that correspond to the Natural Law are derived from various related literature.

As stated on John Locke’s social contract theory, the concept of revolution can be a great solution in these kinds of situations. Under the natural law as he stated, all people have the right to life, liberty and estate. On the other hand, under social contract, it can be a choice of initiating a revolution against the government when that government acted against the interests of its people thus replacing the government with someone that served the community’s interests. In some cases, Locke deemed revolution. The right of revolution thus essentially acted as a safeguard against tyranny as it was the right thing to do. We are morally obligated to revolt especially when our naturally occurring rights are threatened by the government. It is our moral obligation to take arms to against the government in order to abolish these tyrants abn establish a less oppressive and controlled body. When the government isn't doing its job correctly, we hold the right to 'fire' it, removing it from its position and 'hiring' a new one that does its job the right way.

What should the people do about a tyranny? Aquinas agreed with St. Augustine that the subjects of unjust rule are not obliged to obey the laws since they are not legitimate. He even argued that the victims of a tyranny, might rebel and depose it. Aquinas cautioned that the people should not do this hastily, but only when the damage done by the tyranny exceeds what may occur in a rebellion. This was one of the first justifications for revolution in Western thought.

Justifiable resistance is a public act of a whole people, and the misuse of the right is safeguarded by the moral condition that those who act as the agents of the people are responsible for seeing that their action is less injurious to the general good than the abuse which they are trying to remove. Thus, Thomas Aquinas has an abomination of illegitimate force and proceeds from the principle that power is justified only in so far as it serves the common good.

Recommended Solutions

Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. Do not obey in advance. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do. It is also important to defend institutions as it is institutions that help preserve civility which separates people from the hold of tyrants. Next is to beware the one-party state. Realize that the suppression of oppositional political parties is a conspicuously obvious step on the way to dictatorship. Support the multi-party system and defend the rules of democratic elections. Also, exhibit professional ethics. When political leaders set a negative example, expert commitments to simply exercise come to be important. It is difficult to subvert a rule-of-law nation without lawyers, or to hold show trials besides judges. Authoritarians want obedient civil servants, and concentration camp administrators are seeking businessmen interested in low cost labor.

On the other hand, in line with the natural law, Thomas Aquinas stresses that the remedies against the evils of tyranny rather lies in the hands of public authority than in the private judgment of individuals. In particular, where the community has the right to elect a ruler for itself, it would not be contrary to justice for that community to depose the king whom it has elected, nor to curb his power should he abuse it to play the tyrant. The community should also not be accused of disloyalty for thus deposing a tyrant, even after a previous promise of constant fealty; for the tyrant lays himself open to such treatment by his failure to discharge the duties of his office as governor of the community, and in consequence his subjects are no longer bound by their oath to him (De Regimine Principum, caput vi).

Thomas Aquinas suggests three means of avoiding the evil of tyranny: First, it is necessary that whoever of the possible candidates is proclaimed king/leader shall be of such character that it is unlikely that he will become a tyrant. Second, a monarchy should be so constituted that there is no opportunity for the king, once he is reigning, to become a tyrant. Finally, the kingly power should be so restricted that he could not easily turn to tyranny.

What if the tyranny is of the extreme sort? For that case, St. Thomas does propose resistance, but he insists that it be carried out constitutionally, by public authority rather than by private presumption. Presumably, the constitutional traditions of various countries may provide various ways to depose a tyrant. By way of example, St. Thomas considers only one such case, in which the assemblies of the people have the constitutional authority not only to appoint the king, but also, by implication, to remove him.


Natural law is the duty of the state, the ground upon which social and political relations can be secured and comprehended. It is, therefore, the duty of the state to protect and improve the rights of its members. However, tyranny exercise the opposite. By taking into the account St Thomas Aquinas’ natural law, solutions on whether one can revolt against tyrannical government administrations arose. It is said that when people are suppressed, it is their sole responsibility and obligation to resist and revolt for their rights as humans. Thus, in accordance with the natural law, people should consider the violence they might portray in revolving and resisting as violence never became ethical.

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