In one or another of the Marvel movies, a character lays out the HYDRA credo -"Humans cannot be trusted with freedom." It resonated with me in an odd kind of way.
The Enlightenment, secularist, liberal, Romantic mindset is subject to one massive flaw. The assumption that everyone is intelligent enough to understand, value and act according to these principles and ideas.
Sadly, as merely spending a little time among ordinary people will show, the majority of the human race is composed of dim-witted, criminal-minded layabouts.
These people are capable of doing great things, of doing well, of being decent. But not by themselves. They must be taught, but they must also be disciplined. Self-discipline, like self-awareness, is not something everyone has naturally. And sadly, neither is something which everyone can acquire. Those that can, must and must be helped to do so. Those that cannot (and there are far too many - most of us, in fact) need discipline to be enforced upon them.
Most people, history shows, are happy to exchange personal liberty for peace, safety and three square meals a day. Because freedom equals responsibility and responsibility is a terrible burden for those unfit to bear it.
The irony is that those who are fit to bear the responsibility for governing others, are usually also those who campaign most vigorously to gain maximum freedom for all (even those who don't want it or will misuse it). Hermione Granger, campaigning tirelessly to free House-elves who don't want to be freed.
The result is that we are governed by those capable of ruling, but morally unfit to do so. Because those fit to rule, won't.
And so the cycle repeats itself.