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Why the Worst Get on Top

It is in connection with the deliberate effort of the skilled demagogue to weld together a closely coherent and homogeneous body of supporters that the third and perhaps most important element of selection enters. It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program ā€” on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off ā€” than on any positive task. The contrast between the “we” and the “they,” the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses. From their point of view it has the great advantage of leaving them greater freedom of action than almost any positive program. The enemy, whether he be internal, like the “Jew” or the “kulak,” or external, seems to be an indispensable requisite in the armory of the totalitarian leader.

ā€” F.A. Hayek, The Road To Serfdom, from the chapter entitled, “Why the Worst Get on Top.”

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