Quotes & Notes

. . . because of this ignorance of the primitiveness of their instincts, of the urgency of their needs, of the impatience of their desires, the people show a preference towards summary forms of authority. The thing they are looking for is not legal guarantees, of which they do not have any idea and whose power they do not understand; they do not care for intricate mechanisms or for checks and balances for which, on their own account, they have no use; it is a boss in whose word they confide, a leader whose intentions are known to the people and who devotes himself to its interests, that they are seeking. This chief they provide with limitless authority and irresistible power. The people, considering everything to be just which they consider useful to themselves, since they are the people, ridicule all formalities and do not impose conditional limitations on the depositories of power, Inclined towards suspicion and calumny, but incapable of methodical discussion, they believe in nothing definite save the human will. Their only hope is man. They have confidence only in their creatures: In principibus, in filiis hominum. They expect nothing from principles—which alone can save them. They do not have the “religion of ideas.”
Of this I am certain, that in a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority, whenever strong divisions prevail in that kind of polity, as they often must; and that oppression of the minority will extend to far greater numbers, and will be carried on with much greater fury, than can almost ever be apprehended from the dominion of a single sceptre. In such a popular persecution, individual sufferers are in a much more deplorable condition than in any other. Under a cruel prince they have the balmy compassion of mankind to assuage the smart of their wounds; they have the plaudits of the people to animate their generous constancy under their sufferings: but those who are subjected to wrong under multitudes, are deprived of all external consolation. They seem deserted by mankind; overpowered by a conspiracy of their whole species.