Why do intellectuals fall in love with dictators and totalitarians?

Why do intellectuals fall in love with dictators and totalitarians? By Theodore Dalrymple.

Imprisoned serial killers of women are often the object of marriage proposals from women who know nothing of them except their criminal record. This curious phenomenon indicates the depths to which self-deception can sink in determining human action. The women making such offers presumably believe that an essential core of goodness subsists in the killers and that they are uniquely the ones to bring it to the surface. They thereby also distinguish themselves from other women, whose attitude to serial killers is more conventional and unthinkingly condemnatory. They thus see further and deeper, and feel more strongly, than their conventional sisters. By contrast, they show no particular interest in petty, or pettier, criminals.

Something similar can be noted in the attitude of at least some intellectuals toward dictators, especially if those dictators claim to be in pursuit of a utopian vision. …

Many German intellectuals, notoriously Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt, rallied to Hitler, and few actively opposed him. How far their support was motivated by fear or opportunism is impossible to say; but years of study and intellection did not protect them from gross misjudgement, and even before Hitler attained power, support for him was greater among university students and the professoriat than in the nation as a whole (here, quantitative information is important).  …

Stalin, Mao, and Castro (or Khomeini, in the case of Foucault) …  were religious leaders who claimed the power to answer all human questions at once and to lead humanity into a land of perpetual milk, honey, and peace. They were omniscient, omnicompetent, loving, and kind, infinitely concerned for the welfare of their people; yet at the same time they were modest, humble, and supposedly embarrassed by the adulation they received. The intellectuals, then, sought in them not men but messiahs.