Ochlocracy or Mob rule is a term for a particular form of a state’s political structure that tends toward terror and unmotivated violence. According to the Greek historian Polybius, “Ochlocracy is a degenerated democracy and the worst of all forms of government.
Signs of ochlocracy can be found in the Roman Empire, where the army enthroned and dethroned at will, although the state institutions were monarchical. In the modern world, ochlocracy is practically not considered an independent form of exercising political power. But it significantly complements the political regimes in crisis or transition, which means the actual collapse of power, the critical state of the political system, and the existing political regime.
Ochlocracy should be understood as a special, specific form of political power when spontaneous, contradictory, and essentially destructive actions towards society and the state are implemented. The source for maturing discontent and for the beginning of demonstrations can be a natural disaster with many victims, war and military mishaps, famine, epidemic, pandemic, a sharp decline in living standards.
The proportion of spontaneous uprisings is relatively small, and even then, if we carefully investigate all the cases, it turns out that the management of human discontent was present everywhere. However, an analysis of the available historical experience of the functioning of disorganized societies and states allows us to clarify this interpretation of ochlocracy. Based on the available scientific approaches to the notions of “power” and “crowd”, we can say that ochlocracy is understood as a perverted form of state structure, which emerges as a result of disordered development and bringing democratic tendencies to the point of absurdity; a spree of riots, pogroms, street riots, in which the crowd acts as the master of the situation; one of the characteristics of mass society.
Example of Ochlocracy government system
The 20th century has contributed to the manifestation of various forms of ochlocracy. These are the periods of the revolution of 1917, the Civil War in Russia when lawlessness and arbitrariness flourished. The Fascist regime in Germany also used the crowd for its own purposes. During the Spanish Civil War, ochlocratic actions were carried out under the influence of anarchists. As the analysis of all these events shows, ochlocracy gained strength in the struggle for power after the fall of the old regime and before its replacement by a more stable and organized political system.