Demagoguery is a tactic or political action aimed at obtaining the vote by appealing to the feelings and emotions of the voters through promises or scenarios of doubtful realism.

The term comes from ancient Greek, demos means town, and Aug, lead. Thus, its literal meaning would be "leadership of the people." The word at hand, demagoguery, has experienced different meanings depending on the author who has dealt with it or according to the time lived.

Demagogy according to Aristotle

According to Aristotle, demagoguery is the form of government that derives from the degradation and corruption of democracy. Aristotle, in Book V of Politics, establishes the causes for which revolutions occur in democracies and ends them.

The emergence of the figure of the demagogue is the one that propitiates the fall of democracy. In the private aspect, this falsely denounces those who are possessors of wealth, and in the public, they drag the mass. In the city of Megara, for example, the demagogue, to keep the wealth and goods of the notables, expelled them from the city. But when they managed to be a large number, with the help of arms they retaken the city and overthrew democracy.

To please the people, the demagogues treated the notables badly: they distributed their property, increased taxes, slandered them, etc.

Before the time of Aristotle, demagogues were tyrants, but the rise of rhetoric caused demagogues to emerge from the people themselves. The election of the positions propitiated until the town was sovereign of the laws.

As we can see, for Aristotle, the demagogue emerged from among the people, dynamited the coexistence to come to power, and once in it, he mistreated the wealthy minorities of the city for the benefit of the people, since it was the people who kept him in the government. Later, the degradation of democracy was so high that it was destroyed and, according to Aristotle, the oligarchy was reestablished.

Demagogy according to Max Weber

Max Weber is considered one of the fathers of modern sociology, and he devoted himself, among other things, to the study of democracy and the politician. With the spread of modern democracy, Weber did not see demagoguery as a rarity, but as something inherent in the democratic system.

If the election of the leader or, as he calls, caudillo, is based on popular suffrage of all or a large part of the population, the use of demagoguery is mandatory. In order to conquer power, the feelings and emotions of the voters are appealed to, empty promises are made, and even deception and lies are made.

Demagogy today

The meaning of demagoguery used in recent decades is practically the same as that used by Weber. This is due to the high influence of the media, the use of social networks by politicians to interact with voters, the expansion of political gatherings and the appearance of politicians in television debates. All this framework has given rise to a media circus in which rhetoric and demagoguery have taken on an even greater importance if it was possible in the first half of the 20th century. Thus, in highly polarized societies or with little democratic tradition, demagoguery is key to government election.

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