… is from chapter 12 of John Stuart Mill’s 1861 Considerations on Representative Government:
[T]he very principle of constitutional government requires it to be assumed, that political power will be abused to promote the particular purposes of the holder; not because it always is so, but because such is the natural tendency of things, to guard against which is the especial use of free institutions. However wrong, therefore, or however foolish, we may think it in the electors to convert their representative into a delegate, that stretch of the electoral privilege being a natural and not improbable one, the same precautions ought to be taken as if it were certain. We may hope that the electors will not act on this notion of the use of the suffrage; but a representative government needs to be so framed that even if they do, they shall not be able to effect what ought not to be in the power of any body of persons – class legislation for their own benefit.
DBx: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) must have been the stooge of some mid-19th-century oligarch! What more evidence for this conclusion is necessary beyond this quotation? After all, in this quotation Mill calls for constitutional limitations on what democratic majorities may do.
The quality of the inferences strewn throughout Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains are in most cases no less foolish and fabricated than is the quality of the inference that, because J.S. Mill opposed unlimited majoritarianism, he too – as MacLean hallucinates James Buchanan was – a lackey for evil oligarchs intent on crushing the masses beneath the solid-diamond heels of the oligarchs’ boots.
The plain meaning of Mill’s words, and the plain meaning of Buchanan’s words, make clear that both scholars called for constitutional constraints on majoritarianism to reduce to a minimum the likelihood that government power will be abused to create private benefits at the public expense – expense both in terms of money and, worse, diminished liberties. The fact that Nancy MacLean and her “Progressive” fans see in this call for constitutional restraints only an obstacle to the efforts of the masses to secure what is rightfully theirs reveals both the extraordinary naiveté that she and her fans have about real-world political power, and the deep ignorance that she and her fans bring to any assessment of the workings of an economy.