Arbitrary power in a single person has made greater havoc in human nature, and thinned mankind more, than all the beasts of prey and all the plagues and earthquakes that ever were … . A bear, a lion, or a tiger, may now and then pick up single men in a wood, or … an earthquake sometimes may bury a thousand or two inhabitants in the ruins of a town; and the pestilence may once in many years carry off a much greater number: But a tyrant shall, out of a wanton personal passion, carry fire and sword through a whole continent, and deliver up a hundred thousand of his fellow creatures to the slaughter in one day, without any remorse or further notice, than that they died for his glory.

—Thomas Gordon. Cato’s Letters No. 25, Considerations on the destructive spirit of arbitrary Power. With the blessings of liberty, and our own constitution, Saturday, April 15, 1721.

The scale of suffering, misery, and death unleashed by Adolf Hitler beggars human comprehension. To his account are the:

  • 70 million dead in World War II;
  • Endangerment of humanity during the Cold War;
  • Near extermination of an entire race;
  • Disgrace of an entire generation of the German people;
  • Enslavement of the countries of Eastern Europe;
  • Spread of socialism all over the world;
  • Taxation burdens of the Cold War;
  • Billions of children who went unborn as a result of all of the above.

When something is incomprehensible, there is a natural human temptation to subconsciously relegate it to the realm of the inconsequential. Some incomprehensible facts we can afford to ignore, like the vastness of the cosmos; but, others, like germ theory, we ignore at our peril. Tyranny is like germ theory; it is a reality which we must force ourselves to comprehend or else suffer its evils.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove