Learning from the Tyrants 3

“A self-respecting republic should fall into a panic upon the appearance of a great man. should banish him from its midst, or at least forbid a legend to grow up around him. If a republic is reluctant to do such things, it is because, dazzled by its scourge, it now longer believes in its institutions or in its reasons for being. It is entangled in its laws, and these, which protect its enemy, dispose and commit the republic to failure. Succumbing to the excesses of its own tolerance, it spares the adversary that will not spare it in turn, authorizes the myths that erode and destroy it, letting itself be trapped in the suavities of its own executioner. Does a republic deserve to subsist when its very principles invite it to disappear? Tragic paradox of freedom; the mediocre men who alone make its exercise possible cannot guarantee its duration. We owe everything to their insignificance, and we lose everything by it. Thus they are always unequal to their task. It is this mediocrity that I hated in the days when I unreservedly loved the tyrants, of whom we can never say often enough that unlike their caricature ( every democrat is an operetta tyrant), they have a destiny, even too much of one.”  E. M. Cioran History and Utopia   Learning from the Tyrants

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