Amazon’s Kindle has a cool feature that enables readers to highlight passages. Amazon is then able to record this and show the most popular passages from the book. Here are most popular highlights from the Kindle version of The Path to Tyranny:
Aristotle calls democracy a perversion of constitutional government in the interest of the needy.
In 1914, John Basil Barnhill said in a debate about socialism, “Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”[†]
politicians promise the right to high quality education, the right to free or affordable health care and housing, and many more so-called rights. These are not genuine rights. They are benefits at the expense of others. The rights to private property, free speech, and freedom of religion are true rights because they have no cost.
Choosing an absolute ruler and the organizational skills of a large government is often advantageous in a time of crisis, but the difficult part is rolling back the large government and tyranny after the emergency has ended, which Athens was unable to do.
Therefore, the best way to prevent invasion and coup is to maintain a small and decentralized government with a strong defense, a well-armed population, and the courage to defend one’s rights and liberty.
More than two thousand years ago, the Greek historian Polybius warned that “democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence” as the people grow more “accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others.”
A drawback of large government with control over people’s lives is that it attracts ruthless men of ambition who wish to use the power of government for their own benefit.
Nevertheless, this use of government power to direct or coordinate society is a form of tyranny, because there can be no greater tyranny than an individual or group controlling the lives of an entire population, even if popularly elected.
The senators had hoped that killing Caesar would solve Rome’s problems, but the problem was not just Caesar the dictator, it was also the people’s desire to use government as a tool to redistribute land and wealth.
The tyrant also builds grand public works, acting as if he is helping the people, but his real goal is to impoverish them and keep them occupied.