I spent the last week in Paris, mostly running around a bunch of museums, and some thoughts keep coming up.
First of all, I keep being reminded of the fragility of democracy. I’m sure everyone here knows that Hitler came to power in Germany through democratic means. But there is another example. There was a big exhibition at the Musee d’Orsay about the Second Empire. Amazingly enough, in 1852 the people of France, who were then ruled under the Second Republic, voted almost unanimously to hand over absolute power (and the title of “emperor”) to Napoleon III. That’s some irony, democratically voting to abolish their own democracy.
What these two examples have in common is fear. Propaganda was used to whip up fear, and the people then gave their power to a “strongman” who was the only person who could protect them. Sound familiar?
Also published on Medium.