General, Research, Technology

What is tyranny, personality cult and dictatorship?

“The servicemen who have rebelled demand thatthe president left the country as quickly as possible. Otherwise, a forceful solution to the problem awaits him. " Such disturbing news is reported by Interfax in a note on the current situation in the African state of Mali. In fact, a series of such messages with enviable regularity comes from different parts of the globe. Sometimes it may seem that dictatorships, authoritarian and totalitarian regimes exist somewhere far away, but this is just an illusion, since modern tyrannies and autocracies are adapting to a rapidly changing world. As psychologists and sociologists who study terrorism note, dictators are able to sow fear among their people and consider themselves their only salvation. Creating an external threat, such as the Jews for Hitler's Germany or the entire West for Kim Il Sung, helps to unbalance society and is collectively paranoid.

Controlling information and eradicating dissent support the vitality of a totalitarian state

Major government installations,existed from the very beginning of civilization, can be reduced to the simple execution of the orders of the chief. Big leaders, almost always men, tell their subordinates what to do - and the subordinates do. Otherwise, they are killed. Sometimes this happens in the decision-making process of a group of local leaders, but even in the collegial department itself there is a chairman.

What is dictatorship?

As they write in a 2015 paper entitled “How Modern Dictators Survive: An Information Theory of New Authoritarianism,” economists Sergei Guriev and Daniel Trisman, dictators survive not because they use force or ideology, but because they convince the public that they are competent.

Researchers Believe Citizens Are Not Observingthe type of dictator, but draws conclusions about him from the signals inherent in their standard of living, state propaganda and messages sent by the informed elite through the independent media. If citizens come to the conclusion that the dictator is incompetent, they overthrow him through revolution. In his defense, a dictator can increase investment in the creation of state propaganda, pressure the independent media with the help of the security forces, and spend huge sums of money on equipping the police in order to suppress attempts at uprisings.

Dictatorship - unconditional autocratic rule by one person or one political force - an oligarchic group, class (dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, proletariat, etc.).

The study authors also argue thatincompetent dictators survive exactly as long as the economic turmoil in the country is not too great. Moreover, their reputation as incompetent leaders can improve over time, even as living standards fall. In some cases known to history, the ruler used propaganda and financed the elite; in others, propaganda was elegantly combined with censorship. Still, tough economic times call for increased spending on censorship and propaganda. The results obtained in the course of the study indicate the trade-offs that various dictatorial regimes have faced in recent decades.

Don't underestimate the power of government propaganda

New style dictators can brutally suppressrebellions and disperse peaceful demonstrations using flashbangs and rubber bullets against unarmed protesters. But compared to most autocrats of the past, modern dictators rarely resort to violence, preferring house arrest to the Gulag. Maintaining power for such leaders is not so much a matter of intimidating victims as a matter of manipulating their worldview.

It should be noted that many totalitarianleaders sought to influence public opinion - some were great innovators in the use of propaganda. However, the way they used it was completely different. Dictators such as Hitler and Stalin strove to radically change the worldview of citizens, imposing a certain ideology and worldview on them.

See also: Science is inseparable from politics: why are peaceful protests more effective than violent ones?

The new "autocrats" are more sophisticated: they seek to convince citizens of their competence to rule. Totalitarian dictators often used propaganda for the "common good." Their successors seek to manipulate citizens to support the regime for selfish reasons. Finally, while propaganda was important to the old-style autocracies, violence clearly came first.

Evolution of dictatorships

More than 30,000 people are believed to have been killedagents of Augusto Pinochet, the former president of Chile, who came to power through a military coup. Most of the regime's victims were sent to secret detention centers and camps. In North Korea, Kim Il Sung and his policies were responsible for the famine that killed between 1 and 2 million people. When the food finally arrived, state media reported it was a tribute to the national leader.

As the New Yorker writes, despite the fact that in Iraqand North Korea, dictators tightly control the flow of information, during the "Arab Spring" - the uprisings that swept away despots in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and some countries of the Persian Gulf, control was lost. The protests were largely encouraged in the messages circulated on messengers and social networks.

When dictators are accused of political assassination these days, it often heralds the fall of the dictatorship.

But sometimes bloody military regimes survive - sohappened in Egypt, Burma and North Korea. And some less violent undemocracies existed even during the heyday of authoritarian repression (mostly monarchies and post-colonial African regimes). But how did dictators such as Kim, Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Mao, Pinochet and Stalin manage to maintain power over their people?

North Korean women (and several men) sob inconsolably upon learning of Kim Jong Il's death.

Tyranny - is a government based on arbitrariness and violence; despotism.

The psychology of the personality cult

According to Alice Locicero, clinical psychologistfrom the University of Cambridge which studies terrorism and leadership, dictators use the well-known instinct of most people - we tend to seek protection from a strong leader. Our behavior is still influenced by what happened thousands of years ago. “It's easier to understand why people adapt and tend to bond with powerful leaders. In Darwinian evolution, humans survived who were associated with the leader. This instinct was inherited. "

Locicero studied terrorism and victims of terror withall five continents. She notes that in some cultures, it is important to show respect for leaders, be it the family of North Korean dictators Kim or just the local school teacher. According to NBCNews, Gerold Post, director of the Political Psychology Program at George Washington University, dictators are also able to control people with more practical and time-tested tools - fear and control over information.

It is noteworthy that Post - like other scholars -studied the personalities of Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il for several decades. He notes that the personality cult around Kim and other dictators is supported by myths about their origins. Kim, for example, was allegedly born in a village in the shadow of a sacred Korean mountain, where his appearance was predicted by a swallow, and he appeared under a double rainbow. In fact, the North Korean leader was born in a poor town in the former Soviet Union, where his father led a brigade of exiled Korean troops under Russian command.

This is (supposedly) a happy family of dictators.

Kim Jong Il's personality has also been subjecta 2009 study by Frederick Coolidge, professor of psychology at the University of Colorado. Coolidge and his colleague Daniel Singer made the diagnosis based on an interview with a South Korean psychologist who had received "extensive psychological training and a deep and solid knowledge of Kim Jong Il." Previously, researchers developed a kind of personality test for dictators and used it to analyze the personality of both Hitler and Hussein. Kim Jong Il's results were pretty close.

With regard to personality disorders, then,it seems that dictators have a "big six": sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid and schizotypal personality traits. All three dictators also showed signs of psychotic thought processes.

Study authors Coolidge and Singer

So why are the people of North Korea (and otherssimilar modes) does not rise? The point is that in such dictatorships there is total control. This means that four people talking together can be seen as a conspiracy. Any manifestation of disloyalty or dissent is severely punished.

I note that psychologists and psychiatrists are already quitehave long been studying dictators and their mental disorders. Thus, a 2001 publication refers to a study by a graduate of the Grodno Medical Institute, Dmitry Shchigelsky, in the course of which he studied the personality of the President of Belarus. After a long analysis of the behavior of the "last dictator of Europe" Alexander Lukashenko, Shchigelsky agreed his conclusions with at least three more psychiatrists and made the following diagnosis: "moderately expressed mosaic psychopathy with a predominance of features of paranoid and dissocial personality disorders." The same diagnosis was previously made to Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.