Hayek on the public demand for a strong man

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.

— Friedrich von Hayek, The Road To Serfdom, chapter Ten, “Why the Worst Get On Top.” More: Aesop on the Frogs Who Wanted a King, at Cato.


  • Gotta be honest, I was hoping this would be from Salma Hayek.

  • You see an entire 7-11 parking lot crammed with illegals, you want them gone. You don’t want “liberty” or “democracy” or any other abstraction — you want something done. The pundit class sees this simple human desire as a sign of what ignorant peasants we all are, but I think it’s pretty normal.

    • I don’t know that it’s “simple human desire” to see a group of fellow human beings minding their own business, not hurting anyone, and to want them gone simply because of what side of an imaginary line on a map they were born on. It actually sounds as if rats are being described instead of people, which is disturbing.

  • E-Bell, I thought the exact same thing! Ahhhh, Salma.

  • […] (H/T: Overlawyered) […]