Thursday, February 21, 2013

The conditions for a dictator

Hi everyone, As you are reading, please consider and comment on at least THREE (3) of the following ideas as they relate to the reading, or your own background knowledge:

  • What makes authoritarian and single party states unique to the 20th century (what sets it apart from previous dictatorships – i.e. Napoleon, Louis XVI, and other earlier forms of absolute power
  • How dictatorships are mentioned in literature, film, and other forms of cultural media (i.e. George Orwell’s 1984)
  • How conflict, chaos, and other forms of contribution lend themselves to authoritarian rule
  • Why certain countries turn to dictatorships and others do not (i.e. the US resists)
  • The idea that all dictatorships are alike – whether communist, fascist, etc.


  1. 1: the 20th century authoritarian states were made unique in comparison to their earlier counter parts largely due to the fact that in these past dictatorships were absolute monarchies. While the more modern interpretation includes single parties, and totalitarian states
    2: Well it is a trend for these single parties/totalitarian states to arise in times of conflict, division, or confusion in the society they sprout from.
    4: Certain countries such as Argentina actually went as far as to want a dictatorship during the great depression, which unlike the U.S. that strongly resisted restoring to such measures. Argentina did this perhaps because it has had previous experience with authoritarian rule.

  2. 1. Dictatorships in the 20th century differ from those in earlier time in a very simple way: it was normal to to the time of Louis XVI that someone was king, the country hadn't seen something else but monarchy in hundreds of years. Even after the french revolution. It might be famous, but the truth is, it only lasted a few decades until Royalist took over again. So the people got used to a single person standing over everything, and I think they were okay with that as long as they weren't starving. But dictatorships in modern times didn't have necessarily something to do with aristocay. As the reading said, the people need to be influenced a lot to accept the dictatorship, every aspect of their lives is under control, and this so strongly that everybody feels the need to be part of the mass.

    3. I think that a crisis is not necessary for a dictatorship. Of course, big examples like hitler make us think that, but what about Argentina? One military coup after the other and although those weren't always dictatorships, the ruling party always tried to opress the other parties and showed other characteristics mentioned in the reading.

    5. I agree with this claim. no matter from what party this dictatorship rises, they have all in common that they have to maintain a totalitarian, single-partied government in order to keep control. The political direction doesn't really matter I think. It is the extremity that makes it what it is.

  3. 2: Dictatorships are mentioned in many pieces or literature. I have read George Orwell’s 1984 and I would agree completely that it is an example of a totalitarian state. The government is watching the people at all times and if they do not follow certain orders they would get in big trouble. More prominent though in this cook was the government’s use of fear to make people abide the government. Because everyone was afraid of what the government would do they never even though to go against it because they were just that powerful.
    3: Often after times of chaos such as after a “war, economic collapse, religious/ethnic strife, social divide, or class conflict” a totalitarian government can arise. With high amount of stress tensions I society many people feel hopeless and often turn to the government to save them from despair. It just so happens that a powerful political party is arising at the time and because of chaotic conditions, it is what people turn to.
    5: A dictatorship does not have a specific place on the spectrum of ideologies. It can fall to the extreme left or the extreme right and it can still be called a dictatorship. Although the political party is necessary for the rise fop dictatorship, the article stresses how the three main points of becoming a dictator is to be a strong leader, understand the historical context of the state, and eliminate the opposition. So it doesn't matter what type of political system you enforce because the means of advocating the system will all be characterizes a dictatorship.

  4. 1. The real difference is the dictator is put with all the control. We see in the past with monarchy, a family and even family friends are put in power, and the church also has a large impact. We see now that the Dictators put themselves as God, and use there individual status as the total leader.
    3. I think chaos and fear sets up these authoritarian states. For example, Mussolini and the Italians feared that people around them were getting too powerful, so much so that they could take down Italy. This rally of people in unity with one leader gives a certain comfort to many people.
    5. I believe often we try to find out wich ideologies and which beliefs could lead to a dictatorship. I think this is BS. To be a good dictator you have to be convincing and dare I say "trustworthy". It doesn't matter if you think conservative, liberal, fascist, or communist, you have to be a strong leader, a leader that people care about and trust.

  5. 3. In theory, single party states sound fantastic, when done correctly and the power is not put into the wrong hands. i think in the early processes of a developing single party state people really do believe that it will help. it works quickly, everyone has to abbey, and that lends it self well to a chaotic climate looking for a quick solution.
    4.I think a lot of it has to do with the ideals and culture of certain places. The United states were founded on the idea of democracy and is very very proud of that. to even think about giving oneself over to the temptation of a doctoral authority could be seen as treason even though it truly is different from dictatorships such as the king of england during the revolution. It would be a sign that the new and recently developing ideals of America had failed after striving for so long to prove that it could work.
    5. I think that's false. Every dictator has their own ideals and ways of leading. sure, one must posses a certain thirst for power and be willing to favor an authoritarian way of ruling, but each dictatorship is different because each person has different ideas of improving their state (whether that be their country or their own situation.)

  6. 3. Conflict and chaos can lead to authoritarian rule. An example being, of course, Argentina after their emergence from the Great Depression.

    4. Certain counties tend to resist becoming a dictatorship because they can recognise the issues with them. The people of developed countries tend to be better informed on world issues, and so they can see the problems with governments like dictatorships. Argentina, being an exception, was a well developed country during the time of the Depression but I believe that it was fear that led to the desire for change.

    5. This is an interesting idea. To an outsider they all seem very similar, but if they are all quite different. Hitler's rule of Germany of course being quite different from Robert Mugabe's ongoing rule of Zimbabwe.

  7. 1: Different from the previous dictatorships / monarchies of the past, 20th century dictators had something to truly unite the people. In the 20th century, the people coming into power had an official doctrine, or streamlined message to give the people, real goals to achieve, and an actual political name for their actions, rather than just chaos, or being "the royal family."

    2: Dictatorships were often mocked in film and literature, and often oversimplified, to fit the needs of the specific aspect that the satire writer wants to focus on. One example that comes to mind would be George Orwell's Animal Farm.

    4: Countries looking for a strong leader, after a time of trouble (WWI), flock to a dictator. Many dictators were charming in their approach to win over the people, promise prosperity, the advancement of the people (Aryan, etc.), or the rebuilding of the once great empire. This kind of talk can sway the people very easily, making them susceptible to takeover.

  8. 2: the first thing that comes to mind for me is the hunger games. Of course it's fictional but the concept is exactly the same. In a time of chaos, the government struggled to maintain power which led to a try to over rule the government by civilians. And as return, the government wants to make it clear that they have control, so the create the hunger games.
    3: when there is so much conflict and chaos, obviously what they are doing isn't working. So when all hope is lost, they think its a good idea is to try something new, thus, an authoritarian rule is created.
    4: I strongly believe that the many people today in our world that are uneducated by the topic, will generalize dictators to all be the same. (A mean rich snob, who wants nothing more than to rule the world). But in reality, this is no where near the truth. I think that the reason behind this is because of individuals like hitler who put a negative twist on the topic.

  9. 4. I think the main reasons why a country turns to a dictatorship is because the potential leader has a very detailed plan to help everyone of the country and they know how to rally the people behind them. I think that Hitler is a very good example of this because not only were the germain people suffering due to the aftermath of world war 1, but their government wasn't satisfying enough for the people. Hitler knew that the germain people needed a hero, needed a superman with a plan in order to get back on top of the world. One reason why i think the U.S. didn't turn to a complete dictatorship (some people might argue FDR was a bit dictatorish though) was because the american people still had faith in how the government worked and how if worked upon and improved that democracy would ultimately prevail.

    5. I believe that all dictatorships are alike in the way a single party with a leader rises up into power and take complete control over its people. I think that the parts that differ and how they come into power and what their agendas are. Most dictators are out to put down anyone that would oppose them or try and take them out of power, but there have been ones that go out and kill as many people as they can for a reason they see as legitimate.

    2. I think that dictatorships will always be portrayed as evil and super controlling/manipulating of the people underneath its rule due to the pervious dictatorships that we have seen in recent history. I think that dictatorships could of been known as a very good and efficient government style by because it is associated with the ideals that people like Hitler, Lenon, and many others have brought to it.

  10. The first thing I think of when I hear the word, “dictator” is the recent movie, “The Dictator” with Sacha Baron Cohen. Although it is an exaggerated version of what a dictatorship entails, it reasonably demonstrates the huge amount of power a dictator has. George Orwell’s 1984 is also an exaggerated version of a dictatorship with televisions monitoring everybody in their rooms. It exemplifies pure control and manipulative power by the state, just as every dictatorship includes.

    Our recent study on the Great Depression on Argentina is the perfect example for how conflict and chaos lend themselves to authoritarian rule. With one military coup after the other due to failed government rule, the people seemed to settle for any form of authority that could potentially do the job. The feeling of instability amongst a nation is the primary factor leading up to their subject to authoritarian rule.

    It is hard for me to understand why certain countries turn to dictatorships. The only plausible reason I feel is that a dictatorship is that country’s conservatism; they have lived with an authoritarian government before, and they are used to the tactic. For example, I’m pretty sure North Korea has been a communist country for a long time, whereas the U.S. has the luxury of democracy. It has nothing to do with the people’s desires, but with the original state of the nation. Also, significant events such as the Great Depression play a role in the country's form of government.

  11. 1)I think that single party states are unique to the 20th century was because if the Great Depression and after the idea was out there other people were like 'oh what a fabulous idea I've always wanted to rule over my country with an iron fist and kill millions'. Well maybe not in those exact words, but you get the point. The Great Depression was unique to the 20th century, sure there had been awful times before, but this was the time when 'get rich quick' was the norm and when that disappeared people panicked and looked for a strong leader, in America it was FDR in Germany it was Hitler. The difference between the two was one was guided by hate and fear, the other was guided by a desire to bring his country into a better more prosperous time. That's not to say that Hitler didn't want Germany to be prosperous, he did, but he was a power hungry insane bastard.
    3)Conflict, chaos, and other forms of contribution lend themselves to authoritarian rule because that's when people are at their weakest and are easily persuaded to do something that they wouldn't before. They're desperate for a easy way out or really any way and look for a leader or look for someone to fix their problems. Dictators take advantage of this weakness.
    4)The U.S. resists dictators because we're too independent, we loath to be too controlled. We're incredibly proud and believe that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps with no need for outside help. That's ingrained in our country's identity.

  12. 3. The text says, "single-party states have arisen during periods of conflict, division, or confusion in society". This means that people are probably manipulated into having authoritarian rule because there is so much chaos and they want a way out. Notice that many dictators sort of "brainwashed" their way into power by persuadeing vulnerable people.

    4. Certain countries turn to dictatorships because it puts fear into citizens most of the time, and this can lead to a riot or uprising. Hitler definitely is an example of a dictatorship gone completely wrong. Now when someone thinks of the term "dictactorship", they associate it with Hitler. Dictatorship has a bad reputation.

    5. I don't agree with this to a certain extent. You can have a peaceful dictaorship or you can have a terrible dictaorship. The main idea behind a dictaorship stays the same whether the styles of the dictaorship are the same and that is to have complete control over the lives of the citizens. That stays the same with every dictatorship, even though as Nicki said, 2 dictatorships can be the complete opposite of one another.

  13. 3.) A totalitarian state is a state of conflict. Whether it is social, economic, or military, conflict deprives people of the order they so desperately seek. The stench of desperation is what dictators flock to, and the grounds of chaos are the perfect place for them to build their nest. 4.) Countries like the U.S prove immune to the allure of dictators because of their strong constitutional traditions. Because in such countries the people have the utmost faith in their constitution, they turn to it in their time of need instead of a personality. They value the constitution more than the individual, viewing him more as a guardian of the constitution rather than being the protector of the country. In America, candidates fight over whose interpretation of the Founding Father's intent is correct, while in countries susceptible to dictatorships there is debate over whether their founding father's had the right idea in the first place. Germans never embraced the Weimar Republic, so they had no problem discarding with the form of government they installed.
    5.) The path taken to dictatorships are normally very similar, and their methods of maintaining power are pretty much identical. But their ideologies differ. Because keeping power and the people happy require a very malleable platform, the ideology of a dictator is very much subject to the whim of the people. Different people want different things. Germans wanted a restoration of their country's former glory, while the Chinese man simply wanted land and food.