On Dictators

“What I don’t understand,” said Mrs. Bowman, “is why the people let a dictator like him get power in the first place.”

“Dictatorships,” said Mr. Magundi, “are often, in a sense, more democratic than representative governments. We who live in a country with a strong tradition of constitutional government have trouble understanding it, but dictators often rise to power on a great wave of popular enthusiasm. It’s easier for the average stupid citizen to imagine one charismatic demagogue as his leader than a few hundred colorless legislators. The problem is that popular enthusiasm is fickle. It doesn’t usually last very long. But dictators are hard to get rid of. In that sense, then, the representative government is ultimately the more democratic one. A dictatorship may be, for the moment, more representative of the popular will; but a representative government is more responsive to it.”

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