A mob is not just a group of people. Directed correctly, the energy of mobocracy can revolutionize a country!

MobocracyWe have heard of mobs at shopping malls waiting to meet celebrities or mobs in sports events, and even cities being overrun by mobs during times of riots and disasters and who indulge in all sort of mayhem but rule of a country or a place by a mob? It may sound crazy but it has happened many times. Yes, this is not funny or weird, it is true. History is replete with instances where mobs have often replaced the aristocrats or democrats or even a group of leaders.

Mobocracy refers to the state when a country or nation is governed, ruled, dominated or whose functioning is dictated by the whims of a group of motley, disorganized individuals with no direction, no positive motivation rather motivated by chaos, disorder, anger and negativity and particularly destructive. Mobocracy involves the usurption of power by the mob of power from the hands of the legitimate authorities in a place. It is synonymous with the word Ochlocracy, also meaning mob rule by the masses. The Greek philosophers considered Ochlocracy as a negative process and as a bad form of government. Many hold that mobocracy is related to Anarchism which is an anti –authoritarian movement, aimed at overthrowing established governments and authorities in order to achieve equality in society ( as is the basis of socialism)

Mobocracy is also often used to make fun of democracy (rule by the people, of the people, for the people) when there is often misrule and chaos operating at the cost of structure and discipline.

Historical significance of mobocracy

Mobs have played a role in determining the fate of a nation. There are several examples in history where mobs used their power to conquer or control the decisions taken. Mobocracy as a phenomenon has occurred whenever and wherever the populace of a nation has been living under discontent, unsatisfied with the rule or governance by the existing dispensation. They simmer under rising discontent and dissatisfaction to such an extent, till a day comes, when an act by the government or leader or ruler as the case may be, acts as the trigger and they let loose the barrage of rage and anger and turn against the ruler. The actions of mobs gone mad could have varying kinds of effect on the country as such. It could lead to disaster, chaos and extreme anarchy and compound the problems already prevalent, under an insensitive and ruthless ruling party or could bring about benefits. Mobocracy has generally been resorted to when all normal methods of communication failed to bring respite to the sufferers.

Examples of Mobocracy

Examples of mobocracy abound from the earliest periods in human history. The earliest account of mobocracy was from ancient Rome. It was believed that owing to the overwhelming size of the population of Rome as compared to the ruling aristocracy and officials, lapses in governance led to frequent uprisings and upheavals, often to the killings of the official themselves. An example is the
Death of Cleander, an official when he tried to suppress an uprising by using armed forces. The angry mob demanded his head and the ruler of Rome sanctioned it in order to bring down the turmoil, without any due legal process.


One of the biggest examples of mobocracy, where the mobs overthrew the application of law and order was the Salem Witch Trials, in the United States. This was a very notorious set of incidents in the history of the united States, were people accused of witchcraft were summarily sent to trials in different towns in Massachusetts. Many of them were hanged to death or were forced to confess and imprisoned without proper evidence and faults in the legal process. The superstitions and mass rage and fear was so high that it led to violence and lynchings of suspected people and the fierce passions overwhelmed use of reason and common sense. The Salem Witch Trials remain in American history and as a lesson for generations on the dangers of blind beliefs, absence of rationalism, giving weight to passion as compared to logic.

Mobocracy That Didn’t Turn Out Well

However not all mobocratic incidences have been entirely devoid of positive consequences. Such an example of mobocracy from American History is that unleashed by the American colonists against the English rulers. The English had tried to impose taxes on them such as the Stamp Act and this so angered them that they organized themselves as mobs, went on a rampage, destroying properties and stealing money of the stamp agents. The stamp agents suffered so much harassment that they were forced to resign their jobs, and this lead to the removal of the unfair Stamp Act. An example where the overpowering display of wild anger by the people lead to their need being fulfilled.

MobocracyAnother example of mobocracy led dramatic societal and political change is the French Revolution. Years of oppression, suffering, extreme poverty suffered under the rule of a parasitic and debauch French aristocracy reached a breaking point and was initiated with amongst other things, the storming of the prison, the Bastille, which represented a den of misery but in this case, while it led to the removal of the aristocracy, it also led to the reign of terror and the oppression of former members of aristocracy. So it had mixed effects ultimately, even though it did have the initial stimulus of initiating change.

Satyagraha and civil disobedience movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi, in India were a peaceful mobocratic movement which finally led to Indian independence from the British.

There are many other famous examples of mobocracy induced changes including the Filipino EDSA revolution to get rid of the despot Marcos, the coup in the USSR in 1991, the Thailand coup of the thaksin, etc. A more recent example of a mobocracy induced coup occurred during the Arab Spring with the subsequent overthrow of the dictatorial governments in Egypt and Libya. Libya and Syria are still suffering the violent consequences of an ongoing mob conflict. Unhappily, things does not seem to have improved in these states.

A recent example has been the mob induced changes occurring in Ukraine where the democratically elected government was overthrown under the influence of belligerent crowds

So mobocracy induces radical change in society and politics of a country but the extent to which it can bring benefits is variable.

Image Source:

By A. Martin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Corbis Images







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