The Majoritarianism reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Majoritarianism

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Majoritarianism (often also called majority rule) is a political philosophy or agenda which asserts that a segment of a country's population (categorized by religion, language or some other factor) to which the majority of its citizens belong is entitled to a certain degree of primacy in that country's society.

This agenda is most frequently encountered in the realm of religion: In essentially all Western nations, for instance, Christmas Day - and in some countries, other important dates in the Christian calendar as well - are recognized as legal holidays; plus a particular denomination may be designated as the state religion and receive financial backing from the government (examples include the Church of England in the United Kingdom and the Lutheran Church in the Scandinavian countries). Virtually all countries also have one or more official languages, often to the exclusion of some minority group or groups within that country who do not speak the language or languages so designated.

In recent times - especially beginning in the 1960s - majoritarianism has come under intense attack from liberal reformers in many countries: In 1963, the United States Supreme Court declared that prayer in the nation's public schools was unconstitutional, and since then many localities have sought to limit, or even prohibit, religious displays on public property. Speakers of languages other than English have also won broader rights in the United States, as legal documents, including those pertaining to voting, have been made available in other languages, particularly Spanish. The movement toward greater consideration for the rights of minorities within a society is often referred to as multiculturalism.

This has provoked a backlash from advocates of majoritarianism, who lament the Balkanization of society they claim has resulted from the gains made by the multicultural agenda; these concerns were articulated in a 1972 book, The Dispossessed Majority, written by Wilmot Robertson. Multiculturalists, in turn, have accused majoritarians of racism and/or xenophobia, a charge which the majoritarians (or at least the more moderate ones) deny.

In contemporary America, the leading mainstream majoritarian political forces include the Christian Coalition and the English-only movement, which seeks to make English the official language in all 50 U.S. states, a fact that has never been formally codified; many organizations opposed to immigration have also sprung up, but not all of the latter are necessarily motivated by a majoritarian philosophy as some opponents of immigration base their opposition to it on economic or even environmental grounds. More militant adherents of majoritarianism can be found in the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups.

A more moderate version of majoritarianism argues that any restriction on majority decision making is intrinsically undemocratic. If democracy is restricted by a constitution which cannot be changed by a simple majority decision then yesterday's majority is being given more weight than today's; if it is restricted by some small group, such as aristocrats, judges, priests, soldiers or philosophers, then society becomes an oligarchy. The only restrction they accept is that the current majority has no right to prevent a different majority emerging in the future, possibly because a minority persuades enough of the majority to change its position; in particular the majority cannot exclude the minority from future participation in the democratic process. Liberals among them believe that sufficient individuals are concerned that they themselves could at times be in the minority, so that the majority would foster a general culture of tolerance for minorities.

See also: Minoritarianism