Fred Reed’s warning may well turn out to be prescient. From Reed on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:
As a society crumbles, as bitter divisions grow and disorder spreads and nothing seems to work, anger comes and people begin to want a man who will say “Enough!” and slap down the malefactors–by any means necessary. A man who will make the trains run on time. A man who will make it safe to walk in the parks.
This is the authoritarian impulse. As corruption grows, as a coagulated government fails to function, the temptation comes. It is coming.
Recently I read that in Brazil some thirty men gang-raped a young woman, left her emotionally devastated, bleeding, with a ruptured bladder, and laughed as they did it before posting the video online. My first thought was, that they should be rounded up, shot without ceremony, and dropped into a public sewer. I meant this without a trace of hyperbole.
First, what proportion of the general public would agree with me in private? Second, what proportion would say so publicly? That is, say to hell with legal procedure, clotted bureaucracy, years of appeals, plea bargains, the insanity defense, and how they were troubled youth.
The ratio of the first to the second I will call Fred’s Fraction in a lunge for sociological immortality. It is an indicator of a country’s explosive potential, of how much anger exists and how tightly the lid is held on. When a great many are very sick of misbehavior, and government prevents both discussion and remedy, people begin to want someone in power who will forcibly end the detested behavior.
As we read day after day after day of beheadings of priests in Europe, of trucks driven into crowds, restaurants blown up, staffs of newspapers killed, always to the cry of “Allahu Akbar,” how many people begin to think–Send the army to round them up, put them on a ship, and beach it on the African coast? How many dare say it publicly?
To continue reading: The Authoritarian Impulse: Getting What We Really Don’t Want