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G. K. Chesterton, in The Everlasting Man, writes:
A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep. It is also true that they sometimes needed him for some sudden and militant act of reform; it is equally true that he often took advantage of being the strong man armed to be a tyrant...
Something to keep in mind. In context, Chesterton is arguing that more often, despotism tends to follow democracy, rather than a civilization's natural state being despotism, which is then reformed into democracy.
It may also be worth noting that democracy has scaling issues, causing it to decay into either despotism or an oligarchy. As a state gains more citizens, hearing all of them properly rapidly becomes impossible, leaving the actual power in a smaller number of powerful, corruptible people.