How did the hardships of the Great Depression create opportunities for leaders with undemocratic ideas to take control of struggling nations around the world?  

Economic hardships nearly always create situations whereby leaders with poor intent try to assume and command power. History teaches that democracy is most endangered during times of great crisis and hardship, like during the Great Depression.

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One major lesson in the study of history and politics is that crises tend to lend themselves to become rationales for change. In other words, political leaders take advantage of situations either for nefarious or philanthropic reasons. The Great Depression saw a rise in autocratic fascists and dictatorial governments as perceptions of traditional, more democratic modes of governance seem inadequate to the challenges of economic collapse and the resulting chaos.

Desperate people in desperate situations were willing to exchange their liberties for the hope of a return to an economic normal. Leaders convinced the population that the democratic process was too slow to address the financial needs of the citizens adequately. Concentrating power in the hands of a few leaders would immediately address the problems of the Great Depression. Shifting the blame for the nation's economic woes to outsiders and foreigners seemed to most a reasonable explanation for the failure of traditional institutions such as banking, finance, and industry to anticipate the depression and put into place safeguards protecting the working citizen.

Scrapping failed institutions and replacing them with new perceptually was the most expedient way to climb out of economic depression. Political expediency nearly always in history results in unintended consequences. As the case of the Great Depression demonstrates, it leads to the rise of fascism, communism, and dictators. Social disruption leads to a rise in nativism, nationalism, imperialism, and racism. Political expediency during the Great Depression created the impetus for world war and the attempt to dominate the world by military means.

The history lesson is that crisis management, even on a global scale, is viewed by many as a license to make wholesale change in social and political structures. The caution is that citizens must carefully consider the leaders they place in power or face the consequence of a diminished lifestyle through loss of liberty and personal freedom. The loss of liberty is too high a price to pay for political expediency. Such is the case born from the hardships in the Great Depression.

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