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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

“The Man Who Seems Strong Enough to ‘Get Things Done'”: Quote of the Day

Hayek on "How the Worst Get on Top"

The quote of the day comes from Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944), in the chapter “Why the Worst Get on Top,” on how authoritarians arise within democracies:

We must here return for a moment to the position which precedes the suppression of democratic institutions and the creation of a totalitarian regime.

In this stage it is the general demand for quick and determined government action that is the dominating element in the situation, dissatisfaction with the slow and cumbersome course of democratic procedure which makes action for action’s sake the goal.

It is then the man or the party who seems strong and resolute enough “to get things done” who exercises the greatest appeal.

“Strong” in this sense means not merely a numerical majority — it is the ineffectiveness of parliamentary majorities with which people are dissatisfied.

What they will seek is somebody with such solid support as to inspire confidence that he can carry out whatever he wants.

Chapter 10, page 159. H/t Walter Olson.

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