Anatomy of a Dictatorship

In a supposed democracy, when an emerging pattern reveals an elected populist regime perniciously trying to dismantle an established federal structure, using all imaginable devious and surreptitious means and mechanisms, to centralize the power in the hands of an elected dictator, a couple of commonsensical deductions emerge:

(a) The regime operates around the whims and wishes of a sacrosanct, megalomaniac dictator; one who can also easily hypnotise others, like Rasputin, and cast a spell on common, gullible masses – similar to evil sorcerers that feature in several popular fairytales that one learns in childhood; one who is inspired by the likes of Adolf Hitler and Mussolini, and politico-religious leaders like Ayatollah Khomeini; and one who intends to rule his subjects like archaic monarchs but under the disguise of a (subverted) democracy that artfully cloaks authoritarian capitalism or capitalistic dictatorship from the within.

(b) The capitalist sponsors, political ideologues, and active supporters of the dictatorial regime – all major beneficiaries of the democracy themselves, as they come from the much higher rungs of a hierarchal, privileged socio-political structure and own a lion’s share of the country’s wealth and the privileges – oxymoronically detest the essence of liberal democracy because they feel threatened by potential beneficiaries of democracy coming from the exploited, lower rungs of the community who they fear may sit one day by their side as equals – as their colleagues, peers, and counterparts, or end up being their bosses at workplaces. Therefore, to empower themselves for all times and bed down permanently as the ruling elites, they work together according to a sinister plan, as a pack of wolves, to establish an authoritarian rule disguised as a vibrant democracy. They control the narrative and the voice of the common people and gag all dissenters. In simple terms, they control the press and all kinds of media, and, importantly, the perception of the world media and politicians of other countries.

Which communities are prevented from being the beneficiaries of democracy?

All minority religious communities, as well as the poor, unprivileged and underprivileged, masses who are treated as numbers and get exploited as voters, labourers (including child labourers), domestic helpers, street and sewage cleaners, and factory workers. They include all those people who are employed to undertake all imaginable kinds of menial jobs. Such people comprise most of the community, as high as two-third of the population.

How does a minority privileged community, comprising as low as one-third of the total population, succeed in creating an authoritarian regime?

They start controlling the social and mass media, as well as the press, and work to seize the total control of social narrative and religious politics in the country. Thereafter, they bring in a shrewd individual who is relatively new to the main political establishment, one who can cleverly camouflage his controversial history (and conning intentions) with good acting and oratory skills. For vote gathering, the new leader is presented before the country as an alternative option, as a revolutionary, godsent reformer, one who can bring nothing but untold prosperity to one and all.

Following a relentless campaign on social media, the gullible voters fall for great acting skills and oratory of the charming new leader, who loudly beams out great material promises and, voila, in no time, the voters are charmed by him.

The charming leader promises to serve the public like no other leader before him, but little do the gullible voters know that they have been conned like nothing before.

Over time, despite a long series of proven false promises and administrative failures, the charming leader is worshipped as a demigod, as if he has cast a sorcery spell over his followers. Even as a proven self-indulgent, authoritarian megalomanic, in disguise as a benevolent socio-political reformer, he never stops making tall promises to people, offering (fake) guarantees to support his (fake) promises.

With the help of his scheming benefactors and beneficiaries, he succeeds in undermining all the institutions of democracy, one by one, using his out-of-book, devious tricks of the statecraft. One by one, he takes over the enforcement agencies, the electoral commission, and the central bank. Finally, with the fall of the judiciary, the electoral process is fully decapitated. All imaginable weaknesses of the individuals – personal and family – sworn to uphold the sanctity of the institutions are insidiously exploited and blackmailed by the authoritarian regime before they succumb to its diktats. The political opposition is impoverished and deprived of its financial assets by underhanded means, both overt and covert, using tax and law enforcement agencies.

The above illustrates how an established democracy can transform stealthily into a dictatorship, and that too in this day and age of globalisation, right under the nose and watchful eye of the global community. Strangely, however, such a regime can also get away from the consequences of its political misdeeds and crime against the democracy.

During the transformation, the corrupt individuals of the political opposition, who willingly join the regime, albeit after a political blackmail of some kind, are declared ‘clean’ and some even rewarded with good positions. Some not-so-corrupt individuals accept huge bribes to transfer their political allegiance to the regime. However, some ‘clean’ members of the opposition, who truly believe in the essence and sanctity of democracy, and the importance of people power, are framed in fake corruptions charges and send to jail, without evidence or with forged evidence, after they refuse to give in.

A political party or a regime that actively uses all possible resources — human, religious, monetary and enforcement — to promote and feed the narrative that the ‘opposition’ is ‘anti-national’ must be considered as anti-national or anti-people because such narratives divide families and promote strife amongst common people.

Can it be said, therefore, the ‘state’ of democracy in a country is directly proportional to the ‘sense’ of democracy in its educated and wealthier classes who enjoy the privileges and control, directly or indirectly, the power, as well as the political narrative in the country? Therefore, can it be also said that, in intrinsically patriarchal communities, if such classes are also traditionally authoritarian, misogynist and believers and promoters of a hierarchical social and power infrastructure — sans egalitarianism, humanism or secularism, or with a poor sense thereof — a country can never be truly democratic unless and until the hierarchical, social power structure is dismantled, which can happen either (a) by violence, as seen in the French Revolution (1789-1799) or the Russian Revolution (1917-1923) or the Chinese Communist Revolution (1927-1949); or (b) by actively spreading formal education and boosting the prospects of employment and human dignity in the downtrodden, poor and unprivileged masses? A sane person, who has read history, will undoubtedly choose the ‘b’ option to save democracy and uphold the human dignity.

Can the state of democracy in a country be related to the GDP per capita? Otherwise, how do we explain most of the top liberal democracies (developed economies) having a relatively much higher GDP per capita than much poorer, developing economies despite the latter boasting a relatively high GDP due to their high population?

To boost the country’s GDP per capita, therefore, is it necessary for a developing economy to (a) improve significantly the level, the quality, and the spread of holistic education amongst the lower rungs of the masses and take all possible measures to the boost their youth employment; and (b) increase the productivity of the country and increase the wages of common people before they are able to appreciate democracy and uphold its tenets.

Copyright © Bill K Koul

Bill K Koul, 1 April 2024 (Perth, Western Australia)

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