Why Do Tyrants Fall?

Mohandas Gandhi said that tyrants always fall.  But why do tyrants fall?In his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Mohandas Gandhi wrote:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, always.”

I realize that some people might dispute this claim, or have objections as to length of time it takes for a tyrant to fall.  For the sake of argument, I wish to accept this statement as true.  I wish to offer a reason as to why tyrants fall.

Why do tyrants fall? They rely on centralized intelligence

One of the things that makes tyrants fall is something that has come to be known as the “knowledge problem,” developed by the 20th century economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek.

Why do tyrants fall?  Friedrich Hayek says its the knowledge problem

No, what they call knowledge has nothing to do with the knowledge in Steps to Knowledge.  What they call knowledge could also be called data or information.  You don’t have to be a scholar to understand Hayek’s 1945 paper “The Use of Knowledge in Society.”  The barbed point of this paper is that economic activity managed by distributed intelligence does a better job than centrally managed economic activity because it does a better job of mobilizing the knowledge relevant to the decisions that need to be made.

Northwestern University economist Lynne Kiesling explains why this is a big deal:

What does this have to do with tyrants and their fall?  Tyrants are the ultimate central planners and managers within their lands.  Their egos demand that they make the decisions, even if they can be better made by what Hayek called “the man on the spot.” Their egos demand that finite resources be spent on sending information about events to a central point, and relaying the tyrant’s commands to the peasantry. It is as if the tyrant’s belief in his own wisdom and goodness, imposes a heavy, hidden tax on every transaction within his domain.


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