Your editorial "There must be justice for Christofias' political crimes" (August 18, 2013) is demonstrating a lack of understanding of the role of the law in a constitutional democracy in relation to a system of ochlocracy
in ancient Greece to the witch-burners and the lynchers, the mob has survived everything from war to plague to evolution.
Waugh agrees, then, with fellow Catholic convert, Ronald Knox, in seeing post-war Britain as typified by an ever-contracting ambit for personal liberty in the face of an expanding state: "Even where we still hold out against ochlocracy
, and enjoy democratic institutions, the shackles of State control tighten round us daily; inspected here, directed there, we find the area of individual choice continually shrinking" (Knox 127).
In light of such complexity, it is a most remarkable achievement that Champion is able to offer, as a clear response to the old question of whether Polybius was pro- or anti-Roman, the view that it is more meaningful to see how the historian represents Rome as moving inexorably, by a cyclical process of constitutional evolution known as anacyclosis, from a height of hyper-Hellenic glory attained in the mixed constitution of the early middle Republic, to the depths of barbarism in the ochlocracy
(mob rule) of the late middle Republic (chapter three, "Rome and Hellenism").
The right answer acknowledges three things: first, that it is a mistake to imagine that there are established norms of public opinion that go unaffected by state shaming; second, that we have far too little control over the way the public exercises its enforcement power--far too little control over the tendency of the public to become either a mob or a collection of petty private prison guards; and third, that allowing state-encouraged lynching involves a troubling tolerance for ochlocracy
, for a democratic government too susceptible to the pitch and yaw of mob psychology.