What makes a Tyrant? (1) Belief in righteousness (2) Populism/Selling the rubes that they're the cure.
~ Aristotle Sabouni
|What about conservative / right wing movements? In America, conservative movements aren't usually progressive -- they aren't looking to remake the nation, and don't demand absolute power to do it. They usually just want more decentralized power, more local government -- and the power they are asking for is to take down institutions, centralization, reduce taxes and regulations -- all things that increase liberty, instead of increasing power in their hands. They fall short, or have greivances, but the vision they are selling is wrong for tyranny. This is why most authoritarians rise from the left (though left and right have overloaded meanings).|
Common Traits[edit | edit source]
The belief that they can fix the worlds evils, if you just give them supreme authority. They will of course only use their powers for good (often Social Justice).
- Populism They all convince the masses that they represent the majority, and that the majority is with them. Bullying is justified, because all these people can't be wrong. "I'm a man of the people", we are united, and playing the saxophone on late night TV and downplaying their elitism, or things like that.
Tyrants create a vision, and sell it to their followers. They are the good guys, they pick a villain, and will cure the injustices of the world, if you join their movement. Things like, "group A is oppressed and needs us/me to fix it". Systemic racism/unconsious bias, economic inequality, saving the planet from Climate Change, that the other side is so bad that you need to empower them with dictatorial powers to fix it. Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, are all symptoms of that
- Branding and Unifying Demand conformity. Uniforms, speech codes, and other litmus tests are all good for this. "Sig Heil", the Swastika, the uniforms are all good examples of that. But slogans like "Foreward", "Hope and Change" (Obama), "We shall overcome!" (Castro), “You cannot run faster than a bullet.” (Idi Amin) -- the ideas are always get on board, or get cancelled. Once you buy in that "bash the fasce", or "free speech doesn't cover hate speech", or that you can imprison J6 protestors without due process (or give them 18 months for "trespassing"), then already the movement is primed for abusive despotism, it's just a matter of targeting and momentum.
- Athletic Supporters It's rare that a despot can "go it alone", he often needs loyal supporters. And often the despot will share some of the spotlight/celebrity with them, the "brain trust", as long as all the celebrity/support worships the leader. Famous singers, top scientists, and sort of celebrity/expert that will support the despot, magnifies the despots power. On the other hand, once they have power they often secure it by eliminating all threats to that power -- their allies become dead rivals. Mao, Castro, Stalin, Saddam, imagined threats were dead threats. So the will inflate the celebrities that worship them in the ultimate appeal to authoriy/celebrity fallacy... but those aren't usually political rivals or those that can challenge the thrown, they usually end up in shallow graves (or at least false allegations to discredit them).
- Secret Police/Army Basically, all leaders fear threats to their power. Despots know that their reins will be short if they can't eliminate those threats. So they often create/utilize agencies to do their bidding... and once that bidding becomes rootig out and eliminating political enemies through propaganda, fake stories, selective arrests/prosecutions (or death), the country is falling to tyranny. Think the FBI spreading misinformation about Russian Collusion, trying to protect Hillary or bullying Social Media to protect Hunter Biden story -- though that's a gentle example. Litmus/loyalty tests are a good way to filter out the chaff. (Think Biden putting woke training in the Military/Government, Vaccine mandates, or other tests to drive out the non-woke non-conformists, or potential threats).
- Kleptocracy Basically, increase taxes and burdens on the public, centralize power. With that, there are opportunities for despots to divert funds towards allies or themselves, while disadvantaging their rivals. The Clinton Foundation, Obama and Biden's big spending programs like "Stimulus" for the real-estate recession or COVID, then diverting those resource to Democrat causes, or the whole family members (Hunter, Chelsea, Obama family) that suddenly get lucrative "jobs" in areas with no experience (like a book, movie/TV production, Ukrainian Energy, or investment funds). Often nationalizing resources (oil, energy, food, etc) in the name of security, or controlling import/exports magnifies the opportunities for graft/corruption. Green New Deal. The leaders can bully some loyalty, buy others. The lines between mafia and despotic governments can be hard to distinguish.
- Media/Propaganda Trying to control the media and what the public sees and hears. You don't need state owned media as long as you have loyalists at CNN/MSNBC/NYT/AP that will always regurgitate your or your parties position. But efforts like censoring hate speech, or using "Net Neutrality" or the "FCC" licensing (and "Fairness Doctrines") to control what the public sees, are softer examples. Just paying Social Media or other outlets on what/who they will censor (like the FBI in the Twitter Files) are more obvious ones.
- Remaking anything Some systems need to be torn down and remade. Most don't. But remaking a system allows despots to use the power of political appoinments to secure control of agencies with almost unlimited resources (to bully). Think the IRS selectively attacking conservatives and enemies of Obama or Clinton's (both had scandals where they were abusing those agencies). Why do you think Joe Biden wants 100,000 more IRS agents beholden to the far left? Or the Green New Deal is the opportunity to create bureaucracies that oversee other bureaucracies, and enforce the will of the far left. Again, I'm using softer American examples. But taxes, licensing, regulations and agencies are all ways that evil despotic places steal liberty from the people and consolidate power for the uniparty.
- Remaking Society Though shalt have no Gods before the state (or ruler). Most attack religion or belief systems as threats, and try to replace it with the state, unless the Religion is the state (such as Islam), then they become the chosen ruler ("the one"). A few traditions might be celebrated for nostalgia, but mostly, they want to remake them into something new/better -- so they tear down social norms. They tear down the family units: kids ratting on their parents become heroes, open relationships, welfare (being beholded to the state more than family/tribe). Norms and the history bad, and the leader is usually there to fix the injustices if the past, if you just give them enough power (or don't resist).
- Alt-Science Everything is in service to the state and politics. Thus Science is perverted to advance to the political interests of the authoritarian person/state, or it is bad science and bad scientists that needs to be stifled. There is less questioning of things that are wrong, if it supports the state. And more support for ideas that are wrong/weak, if they support the state. Good/bad isn't measures by truth and data, but by acceptance of the consensus, no matter how wrong that consensus is. Who are you to challenge the authorities? Law of Jante.
- Education Again, everything needs to be in service of the State and progressive agenda, including indoctrination... er, education. Hitler Youth, Peace Corps, Department of Education, and so on -- despots always find excuses to (a) centralize education (b) lower educational standards (so as not to be a threat to the administration/ideology) (c) indoctrinate/propagandize through education that parents/old ways are bad, new ways are good, and just follow harder to get ahead.
Examples[edit | edit source]
- Adolf Hitler He completely played man of the people and WWI Soldier (wearing uniforms instead of fancy clothes), and often spoke of being one of the masses. His mustache was worn by lower middle class working men and soldiers (just like Charlie Chaplin). He was almost killed in the trenches of WWI, and believed that it was the evil bankers (controlled by Jews) that had betrayed the German people and caused the loss of WWI, and the suffering after it. And that Germany could overcome and move forward through unity of purpose, and getting rid of the conservative, capitalistic, and Jewish forces holding them back. Hitler didn't cause Marxist anti-Capitalism and class resentments, or anti-Semitism/racism of German culture, I'm not sure he even magnified it -- he just preyed apon the bigotry that was there. And used that to achieve his vision on how to fix it.
- Benito Mussolini Played up the humble son of a blacksmith.
- Muammar Gaddafi Played up his bedouin roots by wearing tribal robes, or using a tent when he travelled. Preyed upon anti-colonial resentments to overthrow western influences.
- Kim Il-sung Preyed upon occupying Japanest resentments to rise to power.
- Idi Amin Preyed upon anti-Colonial resetment of the British empire to rise to power. Drove himself around early on and played the accordion (man of the people). 
- FDR While he did make himself President for life by preying on the hatred of Jews/Bankers that caused the depression, he never achieved the powers of a full fledged tyrant (too many limitations and checks and balances for him to fully succeed). He did many things in common, and was closer than most Presidents (like extending his term of office), trying to stack the supreme court, inventing proxy agencies to extend his powers, interning enemies (like Japanese Americans), all based on existential threats and villains (including evil bankers, etc). But he was battling against all limits on his power that are inherent in our system and culture.
Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, Obama, Trump all had elements of the ego-centricity, and populism. And many aspiring tyrants (Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and so on) appeal the same elements. Of course they did not ascend to become tyrants; partly by limits of the system, timing, or the recipe just wasn't complete. So despite causes for concern, no President has made that play for absolute power, or would have succeeded if they had, despite flirting with undermining individual liberty.
Other[edit | edit source]
Tyrants • [4 items]
- 2003.04.10 Tools of the Tyrant - 🔥 Only after the fall of Baghdad, on-air and in an Op-Ed titled, "The News We Kept to Ourselves", CNN's exec-in-charge admit (Eason Jordan) admitted to having suppressed from the public the truth about Saddam being a murderous tyrant, in order to keep CNN's access to Iraq.
- Government - These are my ramblings about the philosophy of Government. These are ideals. Pragmatically, we are forced to accept a little bit of wrong, and life is more gray than black and white... but we should glance at the ideals to understand how far we are willing to compromise on them. Read this with that balance in mind.
- Individual or Group rights - When you bring up something like guns, smoking, drug laws, etc., some people keep bringing up the fallacy, "what about societies rights?" or "don't the rights of the many outweigh the rights of the individual/few?" The answer is no -- NEVER! Society and groups do not have rights only individuals do. That's fundamental to understanding American history, law, or people.
- Lies the Government told you - I enjoyed the book, as while Napolitano is biasd Libertarian, so am I. A lot of it was rehash, and he doesn't dwell on the other sides perspectives on things. But he has lots of examples of real history, and the fictions we're told by teachers, media, and politicians on the left.
- Netflix: How to become a Tyrant , Wikipedia: How to become a Tyrant , Rotten Tomatoes: How to become a Tyrant