There is great disagreement as to which is the worst of the three simple forms of degraded government. There are those who assert that the worst is the abuse of the mob, while some assert it is the despotism of a single tyrant. The two representatives of each case being Cicero and Aristotle respectively. I will approach this question first by putting forth the opinions of these great authors and then asserting my own opinion endeavoring to show that both forms are so intricately connected and bound up into one another as to be nearly indistinguishable; this is to say that tyranny almost always arises and is supported by the popular will.
Aristotle rests his argument upon the premise that a proper kingship requires a man to have the greatest virtue, thus the greatest harm will come from a man destitute of virtue, for he says, "And just as a royal rule, if not a mere name, must exist by virtue of some great personal superiority in the king, so tyranny, which is the worst of governments, is necessarily the farthest removed from a well-constituted form; oligarchy is little better, for it is a long way from aristocracy, and democracy is the most tolerable of the three." He reasons that a single corrupt man -- or indeed a few -- is liable to do more harm then the great mass of the people, as it is not as likely that the majority are to be simultaneously corrupted.
Cicero, on the other hand, shows his extreme contempt for popular rule, when he says, " There is no political constitution to which I more absolutely deny the name of a Commonwealth, than that in which all things lie in the power of the multitude." He goes on to say that this type of rule is the most odious because the mob can hide their crimes behind the mask of the people. The danger in this is clearly evident, since a man can say that it was not him who murdered but rather that it was an act of the people. Democracy is all the more noxious as the people can easily depose a tyrant or an oligarchy by sheer force and number, but the people, once they have become despotic have no one to oppose them except some minority which is necessarily oppressed under their weight.
Cicero can then be seen to be closer to the truth in this case, as history attests that it is the great movements of the people which have lead to the greatest tragedies. I would go even further by saying that a tyrant may only exist by the explicit approval or implicit acquiescence of the people. Hitler, Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin were not acting against the popular will, on the contrary the general population was their greatest bulwark! Communism, Nazism, and Fascism were all popular movements and were portrayed as such by their intellectual founders. Nearly every despot in history was raised to their position of power by the people and any one of them which long remained did so by their support. This is why the tyrannicide Brutus was driven from Rome by the Romans and why the Republic after a long and bloody struggle fell at last to a Caesar's absolute power.