Of course, people who want power and influence tell you what you want to hear. Its called seduction. They don’t want to create a new enemy. They already have an enemy in mid for you, you know who it is, and they’re going to protect you from that enemy. Its mutually advantageous for both left and right that the other exists. This form of mutualism is ironic and informative. It seems as though many leaders want to literally destroy any kind of opposition.
Remember Napoleon Bonaparte :
Napoleon came to power in France following the French Revolution, which was a period of intense political and social upheaval in the late 18th century. The Revolution had been fueled by popular demands for democracy, social justice, and economic equality. However, it had also been marked by violence and instability, including the Reign of Terror and the rise of authoritarian factions.
Napoleon emerged as a military leader during this period, and he was able to capitalize on the political chaos and instability to seize power. He established himself as Emperor of France in 1804 and proceeded to consolidate his power, centralize the state, and promote economic and social stability. While he preserved some of the ideals of the Revolution, such as meritocracy and religious tolerance, he also curtailed political freedoms, restricted the press, and promoted nationalism and militarism.
Q: What dictators used Marxist-Leninist or Maoist socialist or communist rhetoric and ideologies to become dictators?
There have been several dictators who have used Marxist-Leninist or Maoist socialist or communist rhetoric and ideologies to establish their regimes. Here are some examples:
- Adolf Hitler: He was the leader of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. Hitler claimed to promote a form of socialist nationalism, which he called National Socialism, or Nazism. Hitler’s regime was characterized by its fascist ideology, which emphasized the superiority of the Aryan race and the need for a strong authoritarian state. He used propaganda and repression to establish a one-party state and limited political freedoms, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Hitler’s regime was responsible for the genocide of six million Jews during the Holocaust.
- Joseph Stalin: He was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1927 until his death in 1953. Stalin used Marxist-Leninist rhetoric to establish a highly centralized, one-party state in the Soviet Union. His regime was characterized by widespread repression, including the Great Purge, which saw the execution or imprisonment of millions of people. Stalin’s regime was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 20-30 million people.
- Mao Zedong: He was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party and the founder of the People’s Republic of China. Mao’s regime was characterized by his Maoist ideology, which emphasized the need for a “people’s war” and the establishment of a classless society. He used propaganda and repression to establish a one-party state and limited political freedoms, including freedom of speech and assembly. Mao’s regime was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 45 million people during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
- Fidel Castro: He was the leader of the Cuban Revolution and served as the Prime Minister and President of Cuba from 1959 to 2008. He was a Marxist-Leninist and used communist ideology to establish a socialist state in Cuba. Castro’s regime was marked by the nationalization of industries, the collectivization of agriculture, and repression of political opposition. He established a one-party state and limited political freedoms, including freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.
- Pol Pot: He was the leader of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The regime claimed to be Marxist-Leninist and sought to create a classless society by eliminating all forms of private property and money. The regime was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people, through execution, forced labor, and starvation.
- Enver Hoxha: He was the leader of Albania from 1944 until his death in 1985. Hoxha established a Stalinist regime in Albania, and he was an ardent defender of Maoism. He isolated Albania from the rest of the world and established a highly centralized, one-party state.
- Kim Il-Sung: He was the founder of North Korea and led the country from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994. He was a committed Marxist-Leninist and used communist ideology to establish a highly centralized, one-party state. The regime he established is known for its brutal repression of dissent, human rights abuses, and nuclear weapons program.
- Nicolae Ceaușescu: He was the leader of Romania from 1965 until his overthrow in 1989. Ceaușescu promoted a form of Marxist-Leninism that was unique to Romania and emphasized the importance of national independence and self-sufficiency. He established a highly centralized, one-party state, and his regime was marked by corruption, repression, and widespread poverty.
- Mengistu Haile Mariam: He was the leader of Ethiopia from 1977 until his overthrow in 1991. He came to power in a coup and established a Marxist-Leninist regime. His regime was characterized by widespread human rights abuses, including mass executions and forced resettlement of the population.
- These are just a few examples of dictators who used Marxist-Leninist or Maoist socialist or communist rhetoric and ideologies to establish their regimes.
Q: And what about those who talked about personal liberties and freedoms and open markets, but then become dictators?
There have been several dictators who have used right-wing rhetoric about personal liberties and open markets to gain power and become dictators. Here are a few examples:
- Augusto Pinochet: He was the military leader of Chile from 1973 to 1990. Pinochet came to power in a coup against democratically elected President Salvador Allende, and his regime was characterized by authoritarianism and repression. However, Pinochet also implemented free-market economic policies, privatized many state-owned enterprises, and liberalized trade.
- Francisco Franco: He was the leader of Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975. Franco’s regime was characterized by authoritarianism and repression, but he also implemented free-market economic policies and sought to modernize the Spanish economy.
- Ferdinand Marcos was the President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He came to power through a democratic election, but his regime quickly became authoritarian and marked by human rights abuses and corruption. Marcos used a variety of rhetoric to legitimize his regime, including appeals to nationalism, anti-communism, and the importance of law and order. He also promised to bring economic development to the Philippines through his “New Society” program, which included infrastructure projects and agricultural reforms. However, Marcos’s rule was marked by corruption and political repression. He used the military and police to suppress political opposition and censor the media. He also declared martial law in 1972, which suspended civil liberties and allowed him to rule by decree. During this period, thousands of people were arrested, tortured, and killed by Marcos’s security forces.
- Jair Bolsonaro: He was the President of Brazil, having taken office in 2019. He was a member of the Social Liberal Party, which he turned into a conservative party. Bolsonaro’s rhetoric emphasizes personal liberties and free markets, but his regime has also been characterized by authoritarianism and repression, including the suppression of political opposition and environmental activists.
- Viktor Orbán: He is the current Prime Minister of Hungary and has been in power since 2010. Orbán’s rhetoric emphasizes personal liberties and free markets, but his regime has also been characterized by authoritarianism and the erosion of democratic institutions.
- Rodrigo Duterte: He is the President of the Philippines and has been in power since 2016. Duterte uses right-wing rhetoric about law and order and the importance of personal liberty to justify his regime’s policies, which include a controversial “war on drugs” and attacks on human rights. His regime has been criticized for its extrajudicial killings and its suppression of political opposition.
Living in a Free World?
The classification of states as democracies or authoritarian regimes can be complex and varies depending on the criteria used. However, according to the Democracy Index 2021 published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), there are 23 full democracies, 52 flawed democracies, and 55 authoritarian regimes in the world as of 2020.
The index classifies countries based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. Full democracies score the highest in these categories, followed by flawed democracies and then authoritarian regimes.
It’s important to note that this classification is not without controversy, and some may dispute certain countries’ categorization. Additionally, some countries may be in transition towards greater democracy or authoritarianism, so their classification can change over time.
You can see a couple of patterns here. Leaders say what they think will appeal to their power base, preferably a majority. Then, when in control, they rule as they please usually with ruthless suppression of any and all opposition.
In today’s world of highly advanced technology and highly sophisticated management methods, it should become easier for leaders to, not only lie and grab power, but hold power indefinitely using control over access to information and technology.
There has never been a better time to be an aspiring dictator. There has never been a time when so many people wanted control.