In speechmaking, starting with a definition is… lame. In writing, it’s just clarity:
Tyranny is oppressive power exerted by government.
The key word here is oppressive. Power exerted on your behalf is hardly oppressive. However, the difficulty comes in when what you want and what you need diverge. For when a parent rightly disciplines a child, to the child it certainly seems oppressive. But in an objective sense, the child is not being oppressed. The child is being given exactly what it needs.
So, tyranny is an ambiguous term, rightly referring both to a government action which you personally dislike, and to a government action which is bad, harmful, and… well, oppressive. To make it clear:
Obranny is objectively oppressive power exerted by government. When that which is Truly Good is prevented by government, this is obranny.
Subranny is subjectively oppressive power exerted by government. When that which you desire, be it Good or Evil, is prevented by government, this is subranny.
This understanding gives rise to four distinct situations of government:
- When you desire Good, and the government allows it: neither obranny nor subranny
- When you desire Evil, and the government allows it: Obranny, but not subranny
- When you desire Good, and the government prevents it: Obranny, and subranny
- When you desire Evil, and the government prevents it: Subranny, but not obranny
In the usual course of political speech, when “Tyranny” is flung about, the speaker intends for us to understand that he considers whatever he is criticizing to be Tyranny in the 3rd sense, for no man wants to admit to desiring what is evil (at least not for it’s own sake). However, having laid out the possible situations, we can see that it is quite likely that people using the word “Tyranny” may fall into category 4, for all men are tempted to evil.
I maintain that if you (or your political philosophy) make the prevention of Tyranny into a goal, then you should be most concerned with preventing Obranny, and like a good parent, have little sympathy for the cries of one feeling Subranny.
Stated another way, the government should concern itself with promoting what is good and preventing what is evil. This, no more and no less is Good Government. And Good Government is not tyrannical by definition.