Aristotle came up with the idea first, but John Adams popularized it with the phrase "A nation of laws, not of men." It's a piece in the archist's armory, an irrelevant mantra to confuse and deflate dissenters. Recently I pointed out a few of the weaknesses of democracy and it was used against me; much better to be ruled by laws applying to all, I was told, than by dictators.
Perhaps it is slightly preferable, though it's not as obvious as one might suppose. Certainly in English history, from which ours is derived, the limited monarchy applicable since the Magna Carta was signed in 1215 in this field has been better than the absolute monarchy that ran the place for the previous century and a half; but the Norman autocrats are not quite equivalent to those today branded as "dictators."
The "laws of men" idea is closely associated with democracy, where alleged representatives of everyone licensed to vote make laws that bind everyone including themselves. It's a great fairy tale to tell the kiddies. So in recent and current history, who's the dictator, who's the democrat?
In mid-Century, Hitler and Mussolini were openly called dictators. In 1937 English journalist G Ward Price wrote "I Know These Dictators" (he'd interviewed them both) and today a used copy of his book goes on Amazon for $1,000. Too bad I threw my parents' copy away. But they weren't; at least, not in 1937. The NSDAP has come to power by an electoral process about as fair (though a bit more violent) as the US one, and its leader continued to be highly popular at least through 1943. The Italian Fascists won the 1922 election (with rather more violence) and retained popularity until the same year. Were they absolute monarchs?
The same descriptor was applied to Franco in Spain, and he did grab power after a civil war. But he was wise enough to stay out of WW2, and ruled Spain relatively peacefully for four decades - after which the constitutional monarchy was restored, in line with his wishes. Stalin was "our ally" so could not have been a dictator, but had already slaughtered some eleven million of his subjects before the alliance was formed - against Germans who at the time were not known to have slaughtered any.
In the turbulent MidEast today, Arabia is an absolute monarchy but is said in Foggy Bottom to be one of the Good Guys, while Israel, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey are democracies, yet are tearing at each others' throats. The current primary villain is Assad of Syria, who has been re-elected repeatedly and even wears a suit. Only Jordan, which has a King (with an English education and an American wife) appears stable. So is the Rule of Law all that superior to the Rule of Men?
En passant, let's notice that the "Rule of Law" as made by representatives of The People, does not in fact prevail in the US of A. 44 of the 50 States have an income tax which provides a majority of their revenues, and 43 of those 44 piggyback the Federal i-tax laws; "write here what you wrote on your 1040, Line X." Trouble is, Federal Law does not tax income. Not the written sort, the sort enacted by those purporting to act on behalf of The People, to furnish the Rule of Law. Instead it's enforced by the Judicial Branch, which is not in any way empowered to write laws. So nearly half of all FedGov revenue and maybe three quarters of State revenues are provided under a law that does not exist... except as the Rule of Men. More, if interested, in my How Government Silenced Irwin Schiff.
That apart, let's come to the nub of the matter. It matters a bit - but not more than a bit - who writes laws. What matters is, whether anyone is properly entitled to write them. And the answer is, NO.
The reason will not be unfamiliar to regular ZGBloggers; the premise of self-ownership is undeniable, and therefore is an axiom. The only one with a right to direct your conduct (make laws for) you, is you. And the same is true for all seven billion of us. Therefore nobody at all has any right to enforce laws binding anyone other than himself; not a dictator, not a democrat, nobody, period. Advice, sure; encouragement, by all means; but compulsion, no. And if someone does impose such force, he or she is, however august or important, or however many cheer him on and vote for him, a kriminal subject to action by a free-market justice system.
But, but.... some will say: that would be anarchy! That would mean everyone can do whatever he pleases! Yes, that's all true. Now try repeating that last sentence, emphasizing the word "everyone." Then we can see why in such a society, laws imposed by archists are neither needed nor possible. Since everyone does whatever he wants, the only thing nobody can rightfully do is to over-rule someone else's will, concerning his or her own life.
Laws are therefore the most pernicious and destructive things in a society, and those who vote for lawmakers are committing one of the most immoral acts possible. It's amazing that such a kriminal act sometimes becomes a matter of pride. One might as well wear a button to boast "I RAPED SOMEONE TODAY. DID YOU?" But that's the crazy, inside-out world we inhabit today. This is the garbage-in, which produces such massive quantities of garbage-out.