This essay is my work for english on the formulation of dictatorial societies and how summarize how they fell and in the end theorize the most effective means through the freeing of information in the digital age combat them.
quote: The Rise and Fall of Dictatorships: And how the Power of Language Relates to them By Blayne Bradley
“All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” – William Shakespeare
The issue of how dictatorships form and dissolve has always been an issue of debate within academic circles but with the defeat of Germany in WWII and the collapse of the Soviet Union it is believed that dictatorships are ultimately a thing of the past. This is not so, in fact the issue of their formation is even more important now to study than ever before, we as a world are finally beginning to reach a time where it is within the best interests of the leaders of the world and the people under them to form functioning democracies; however at this time of globalization, of this information age where people from all over the world can speak and get along with each other, a dictatorship stifling creativity through repression is not the way to achieve economic success. So many dictatorships have begun to collapse or hold fully democratic elections. The national emergencies that spawned their creation are over, and it is time to reach for freedom. However, unless we fully understand how dictatorships form we will not be aware or prepared for when the dark tentacles of repression will rise out of the ground and smother us all. We must study this enemy of freedom and find out how to engage it before it destroys the freedoms and principles we hold dear. This is not an argument for intervention in other countries that are or are becoming dictatorships, but rather an analysis on how we can prevent it from happening in our own nation for it is ultimately the responsibility of the people within each individual nation to protect their own freedoms from being purged from their lives by some elite establishment within their borders.
Firstly, it must be understood that dictatorships have existed since time immemorial, whether in the form of a Kingdom, an Empire, etc but we will deal with the more famous ones, such as the transformation of the Roman Republic to an Empire under the supreme power of the emperor, and about renaissance Florence under the Medici family, and finally 20th century totalitarian dictatorships. The point is to ascertain a common thread among these various examples to determine what are the most likely ways a dictatorship can form and from there we will continue on to figure out possible and preferably effective ways of fighting state terror.
Beginning with the Roman Republic which formed in lieu of the rebellion against the Etruscan Kings formed to provide Romans a means of ruling themselves. The history of the Roman Republic is too great and complicated to explain in one paragraph but suffice it to say that it was restructured into the Roman Empire with the Senate awarding the title of “Augustus” to Octavian Caesar of the Julii. The transformation came about after a series of civil wars. Economic difficulties eventually led to the rise of Julius Caesar to political power, who after a fierce civil war with his political enemies was elected dictator for 10 years. The first foot steps of change for the conversion of a semi-Democratic Republic to an authoritarian Empire had begun. Caesar with only a year to live after defeating the last of his enemies, launched a great many reforms and was elected dictator for life whereupon the aristocratic Senators led by Brutus conspired and killed Caesar in order to “save the Republic”, leading to the Second Triumvirate among Octavian, Mark Anthony, and Marcus. After the final defeat of Caesar’s assassins, Anthony and Octavian would fight amongst themselves ending with the Battle of Actium. The civil wars for control of the Republic were over. Octavian would begin the process of acquiring absolute power by appointing governors loyal only to him to the “frontier” provinces where the majority of Romans lived, thus at a stroke providing him with enough manpower to ensure no single governor could overthrow him. He also purged the Senate of dangerous and unreliable members, refilling it with those loyal to him. The Institutions of Rome were left largely intact albeit feeble and while most interactions within them continued, everything was influenced by Octavian who possessed the legions to back it up if necessary. Octavian would offer back all powers to the Senate but in a subtle and disguised fashion the Senate refused and offered him the title of Augustus “revered one”. The transition was complete Octavian Augustus was the first Emperor of Rome. The Republic was dead.
We see here that “the Republic had been dying since 133 BC, with the killing of the Gracchi. Their deaths signaled the end of debate and legal procedure — from that point on, it was whoever was willing to go the farthest dictated policy.” Because of this the political situation become so that any man who seemed capable enough to lead Rome and restore the Republic was flocked to by the Plebeians but often they were struck down by the Senate one by one. The Republic died because the Senate had “proven time and time again, to be so selfish, arrogant, incompetent and shortsighted that the Roman population no longer trusted them to lead.” This gave rise to powerful men and alliances eventually culminating into full and absolute power centralized into the hands of the Emperors. Through the political or physical death of rivals, the total control of institutions and unconditional loyalty of the armed forces.
The Roman Empire itself would collapse in the 5th century AD because of its Imperial tradition. As examined by James Burke the Empire had no budgetary system relying on captured loot to pay its legions and fund civil projects so when the conquests stopped so did the growth of the economy which required a steady influx of slaves and gold to keep it going. With the passing from the Republic to the Empire the Republican institutions that could have allowed for a peaceful means for a dissenting populace did not exist, meaning that for as long the Emperor was good and virtuous the Romans prospered if the Emperor was corrupt, the Romans would suffer. Having no means through democratic process and debate for these issues to be fixed the empire would only continue to stagnate until one last barbarian invasion forced the collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire.
A thousand years after the fall of Rome we revisit the political landscape of Italy. Italy during the Middle-Ages and throughout the Renaissance was full of city states and Republics where powerful families seized control through whatever means necessary. An example would be the City State of Florence under the Medici family, who by becoming bankers eventually dominated Florentine politics and degraded the Florentine Republican Institutions amassing political power into the hands of the Medici family under first Casimo and then Lorenzo The Magnificent; what is interesting about this period is that the seizing of political power was not wholly within the realm of military takeover and the expulsion of rivals but of control of the indirect means of production. By controlling the financial institutions, the Medici controlled indirectly the production of the middle class and thus could overpower and out maneuver all other contenders for political control of Florence. Also, in this time Niccolo Machiavelli wrote “The Prince” in which he helped to shape realist political theory, for example the following: “From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both: but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.” Here we see the modern conceptual approach to authoritarian political thought where ruthlessness is prized more then clemency. This is to have drastic consequences later on. The Italian city states fell because the constant political maneuvering between the various republics kept Italy divided, the system itself did not directly cause the great families to lose control only foreign occupation did so. However, what made foreign occupation easy was the total disunity and distrust between the city states.
Next we must examine the formulation of Totalitarian Dictatorships, whether on behalf of the oppressed Proletariat or of the will of national destiny. Beginning with the earliest form, in 1917 the Bolsheviks (which means “Majority Party”, but, ironically there were only a small number of Communists in proportion to the rest of the Russian Empire) would seize the city of Petrograd from the Provisional government and all power was transferred to the All Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers and Soldiers Deputies.
At first we can see the birth of a newly democratic leftwing socialist nation(s) emerging from the chaos of the Russian Empire in the end of the War to End All Wars and too all appearances could have became a workable stable democracy had things gone right, instead the democratic-socialists and other left-leaning political groups left the Congress, declaring the Soviet’s seizure of power illegal. This would soon begin the Russian Civil War where the “White Armies”, a coalition of Tsarist loyalists, Mensheviks, socialists, anarchists, conservatives, and nationalists, tried to fight the “Reds”, essentially the Bolsheviks, more left leaning socialists and Tsarist Officers. The war lasted from 1918 to 1920 and, with the defeat of the Whites, ended any sort of political or military opposition to Bolshevik control of the Soviets. On December 29th 1922 the Treaty of the creation of the USSR was signed, forming the Soviet Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik). Soon, with the unfortunate death of Lenin, Stalin would rise to preeminence through the outmaneuvering of his rivals through the forming of “Troikas” (sounds familiar?) where he and other high profile Bolsheviks would ally against their common political foe, and then he would jump into a new alliance against his former foes. Then he turned against the New Economic Policy or “NEP” forcing them into the opposition. Very quickly the Politburo, which had at this time practiced Democratic Centralism very capably, was being refilled by Stalinist Loyalists, the NEP was being replaced by Centralized Planning to achieve the industrialization of the USSR (albeit at the expense of agriculture), then he would empower the NKVD and the bureaucracy, eventually assassinate Kirov, the Leningrad Party Boss, claiming it a terrorist attack by reactionaries led by then exiled Leon Trotsky he clamped down on USSR society, intellectuals, free thinkers, left wing socialists, and others soon disappeared into the night or were exiled to Siberia and the Party would soon be purged of all those who were not loyal or immediately loyal to Stalin, and then next came the purge of nearly every officer above the rank of Colonel. When the dust settled “The Great Stalin” was the undisputed leader of the USSR with no political rivals of any significance.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 happened because a period of economic stagnation beginning in the 1960s was putting the USSR into an economic slump and becoming increasingly unable to not only compete militarily with the west but also economically as well. The costs of maintaining a 5,000,000 man army in peace time, with an increasingly inefficient command economy was putting massive strain onto the Soviet economy eventually leading to Mikhail Gorbachev being elected to the post of General Secretary. His political and economic reforms while held much promise led to a series of unpredictable events that culminated into the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, a political system requiring such a great amount of emphasis on political reliability and economic controls could not last forever without substantial reforms.
Adolph Hitler joined a Bohemian workers party in the 1920’s which he would later reform into the NASDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party, NAZI for short) the Nazi Party would at first be organized along the same lines of the Italian Fascist “Black-shirts” using terror tactics to intimidate the opposition. But after the failed Putsch at Munich he withdrew from politics for a few years to see what happens. Then joined politics once the political situation became clearer and he tried again. This time he changed tactics. He distanced himself from the Sturmtroopers and instead decided he wanted to become the leader of the German people through democratic process. At first his party was a minority in the Reichstag but used a form of political bullying by leaving the Reichstag, forcing a new election for seats, and this would happen several times giving the Nazi Party a clear majority in the house interfering with legislative processes. President Hindenburg had enough and appointed him Chancellor so that the legislative duties of the Reichstag can resume. All hope for German democracy was lost when the Nazi’s burned the Reichstag blaming a Dutch socialist. This led to the passing of the “Enabling Act” ending elections, stripping away due process and giving the power to arrest without cause or trial. With Hindenburg’s death, Hitler became the Fuhrer when he combined the offices of the President with the office of the Chancellor with the arrest of all political rivals both within and without of the Nazi Party full and total power was in the hands of Hitler and his subordinates.
Hitler’s Third “1000 Year” Reich would end far more abruptly than he could possibly imagine. At an overall glance it seems like the Third Reich was onto something an authoritarian system of government that could effectively utilize the resources of the state and private enterprise to fulfill the national interests of the people. However German would be forced to offer unconditional surrender to the Allies of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and the United States in 1945 because of its greatest flaw; Adolph Hitler himself. The system put so much military, legislative, and executive authority into him that no one could stop him from making foolish mistakes if no one could dissuade him from doing so. This led to one catastrophic military defeat to another resulting in not just his assassination attempt but finally the crushing of Germany itself when the Russians after a long bloody struggle victoriously raised the Red Flag on top of the Reichstag in Berlin itself on the month of May 1945.
We see that a common thread through the formulation of each dictatorship possessed several common themes, control of the armed forces or use of force. Control through indirect methods of production; banking, tribute from conquered territories, war communism, manipulation of public image through propaganda. Ultimately, absolute control of government and its consolidation only occurred once all political and military rivals for control were vanquished. Thus once any group, party or organization of some sort has achieved some or all of these, all organs of government will be under their direct or indirect control.
This asks the final question: how do we prevent it? With the progression of history has come about the steady scientific advancement of every field of human endeavor and as society advanced so did methods of controlling ever increasing populations with a intrinsically linked increase in efficiency. However, contrary to the initial results, technology might very well be the answer to totalitarian regimes, as in each one the free flow of information that challenge the rule of the regime is an anathema to the regime, so with recent advancements such as the internet, hand held cameras, cell phones and other marvels, humanity’s ability to confront and fight it, state terror might very well by the end of the 21st century come to a complete and final end.
Don't cite wikipedia. Ever. Find real books.
Posted by Sid Meier (Member # 6965) on :
no I'm allowed wikipedia... and why am I logged in as my Sid account... weird.
Posted by TheGrimace (Member # 9178) on :
I'll start with the first paragraph, as that will take enough effort:
The issue of how dictatorships form and dissolve has always been an issue of debate within academic circles but with the defeat of Germany in WWII and the collapse of the Soviet Union it is believed that dictatorships are ultimately a thing of the past <who considers this a thing of the past?>. This is not so .In fact the issue of their formation is even more important now to study than ever before .We as a world are finally beginning to reach a time where it is within the best interests of the leaders of the world and the people under them to form functioning democracies . however at this time of globalization, of this information age where people from all over the world can speak and get along with each other, a dictatorship stifling creativity through repression is not the way to achieve economic success <why bother saying this? even dictatorships probably aren't going to claim they are the best way to achieve economic success... you're making an argument against no one>. So many dictatorships have begun to collapse or hold fully democratic elections. The national emergencies that spawned their creation are over, and it is time to reach for freedom <what exactly are you referring to? there are still many dictatorships around, and many haven't necessarily had "national emergencies" and/or had them long enough ago that this isn't beneficial to mention> . However, unless we fully understand how dictatorships form we will not be aware or prepared for when the dark tentacles of repression will rise out of the ground and smother us all. We must study this enemy of freedom and find out how to engage it before it destroys the freedoms and principles we hold dear. This is not an argument for intervention in other countries that are or are becoming dictatorships <what countries are "becoming dictatorships> that aren't already?> , but rather an analysis on how we can prevent it from happening in our own nation for it is ultimately the responsibility of the people within each individual nation to protect their own freedoms from being purged from their lives by some elite establishment within their borders.
I certainly didn't catch anything, just some of what I saw to be fairly glaring issues that could somewhat easily be called out/fixed. Big things overall though: this starting paragraph could be broken up into about 3 separate paragraphs, it's too long and contains too many partially formed concepts to serve as a good introduction to an essay.
When introducing your topic you want to have a fairly concise introduction that clearly calls out a handful of main talking points to later be built upon. Possible main points for you: 1) Analysis of what dictatorships are still around 2) Analysis of why dictatorships are more damaging/less desirable now than at some other point in history 3) Analysis of the effects of global connectivity on government 4) Analysis of watchsigns of an emerging dictatorship (possibly broken up to internal and external...) etc...
Also, I wholeheartedly agree not to cite wikipedia... while it may be a convenient and bountiful source of information, there is no control to verify that anything there is correct. Additionally in terms of academic writing it speaks of laziness, and will not be taken seriously.
Posted by IanO (Member # 186) on :
I think he meant no wikipedia to be taken seriously. The fact is, wikipedia is an excellent starting point for a lot of research and can show you a lot of perspectives (or give a rundown) really quickly. But given the fact that wikipedia is editable by virtually anyone (and that there is an undeniable time lag between an error being posted and its being corrected by someone), means that it needs to be verified. Especially if some fact jumps out at you as odd, or it has an interesting slant, should you verify it with other sources. Good articles usually have other urls whose validity is easier to ascertain (eg: part of a university professors class notes).
Just a starting point or a place for quick reference. But to be taken seriously, more reputable references should be used.
Posted by TheGrimace (Member # 9178) on :
Additionally, in skimming further on in your essay, I'd have to say that if you want this to relate to today you absolutely must add in some comments about various other more modern dictatorships, such as: Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, many other countries in South America, Africa, the Middle East... perhaps also things such as dictatorships in Asia, North Korea, China etc (some of these are officially considered communist or other forms of government, but are often in practice dictatorships even now)
Posted by prolixshore (Member # 4496) on :
I haven't read it yet. I'll get to it later. A glaring error off to top of my head: your second paragraph begins with "firstly." Do not ever do that, ever.
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
I should avoid hyperbole, were I you. Consider this sentence :
quote:The issue of how dictatorships form and dissolve has always been an issue of debate within academic circles
Ridiculous, unless you take 'always' to mean 'since oh maybe the sixties'.
quote:All hope for German democracy was lost when the Nazi’s burned the Reichstag blaming a Dutch socialist.
Me, I'd fail you for the apostrophe alone, but leave that for now. You are seriously asserting that the Reichstag fire was the sole decisive event in the long chain that let Hitler come to power?
quote:We see that a common thread through the formulation of each dictatorship possessed several common themes, control of the armed forces or use of force.
Not hyperbole this time. Now, in the first place the sentence has very clearly been edited in the middle; as written it doesn't make sense. What is the 'formulation of a dictatorship'? You also have 'a common thread possessing several common themes', which doesn't make sense either. And as for control of the armed forces - gosh, do tell! Imagine that! Dictatorships based on armed force? Who would have thunk it?
Posted by prolixshore (Member # 4496) on :
Try not to be too offended by this. Were you ever taught composition in high school? Between your last paper and this one, I would guess you are in 8th grade.
This paper is so riddled with grammar, style, usage, and punctuation errors that I would be ashamed to turn it in. Does your school have a writing center that could help you out? If so, I would advise that you take this and any future papers to them and try to learn basic writing skills. If your school doesn't offer that service, my only advice is to enroll in a composition course as soon as possible.
This is not even close to college level work. Even if you were in high school, it wouldn't be up to snuff. Writing is something that can be learned, and you should look into developing your skills. You are not effectively communicating you ideas.
If you want an example of what is wrong here:
"Beginning with the Roman Republic which formed in lieu of the rebellion against the Etruscan Kings formed to provide Romans a means of ruling themselves."
This is not a sentence. It is a sentence fragment.
"An example would be the City State of Florence under the Medici family, who by becoming bankers eventually dominated Florentine politics and degraded the Florentine Republican Institutions amassing political power into the hands of the Medici family under first Casimo and then Lorenzo The Magnificent; what is interesting about this period is that the seizing of political power was not wholly within the realm of military takeover and the expulsion of rivals but of control of the indirect means of production."
You expect to pass this off as one complete sentence? This is a run-on on several levels.
It needs a lot of work, as in a total rewrite. Find someone who is a good writer to work on it with you. Have them help you line by line as they stare over your shoulder at what you are typing.
Posted by Blayne Bradley (Member # 8565) on :
unfortunately I had not enough time to put this under Hatrack scrutiny so I had to hand it in as a previous version much much, worse in errors, my teacher handed it back to me with a 78-23 as in failure because i was 23 days late. So I rewrote it to raise it to a 60, so I handed it in to Hatrack now to see how I can improve it on my spare time.
Posted by ElJay (Member # 6358) on :
Hatrack cannot teach you how to write a paper. Hatrack also cannot teach you how to turn in your work on time. The advice to take a basic writing class is the best we can give you.
I have never had a class where I could turn in a paper 23 days late and expect any credit at all, much less credit on an even later rewrite. Just a heads-up that that is not going to be acceptable behavior at a job, either.
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
I'm going to pick a sentence completely at random, and see what happens.
quote: The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 happened because a period of economic stagnation beginning in the 1960s was putting the USSR into an economic slump and becoming increasingly unable to not only compete militarily with the west but also economically as well.
...he asserts breezily. Historians are going to argue over the cause of that collapse for the next hundred years; if I were you, I'd qualify my statement just a bit. But apart from that, the grammar is totally off. The real problem is that your sentence is too long; by the time you reach the middle, you don't remember how you started it. So the good solution would be to rewrite as several sentences. But to help you see where you went grammatically wrong : You have
'X was putting the USSR into Y and becoming Z'. So, first, 'The economic slump was putting the USSR into an economic stagnation'. What is the difference between the slump and the stagnation? You are just saying that "X led to X", which is hardly illuminating.
Next, let's do some analysis. What is the subject of your sentence, the thing that is doing the acting? It is the economic slump. The USSR is the object, since it is being acted upon. Therefore, the second verb, 'becoming', refers not to the USSR, but to the slump. So you have the slump being unable to compete! This makes no sense.
Finally, the tag end of the sentence is a bit clumsy, though it shines by comparison with the object-subject confusion in the beginning.
You have a lot of these errors where, in a long sentence, you apparently think that the object of is really the subject, and have the real subject doing things that make no sense. You should review your basic grammar, or better still write shorter sentences so you won't get confused, not that this is a strength of mine either, as you are perhaps aware both from here and Paradox; where, incidentally, your China is going to get smashed by a resurgent Bengal.
Posted by Blayne Bradley (Member # 8565) on :
quote:where, incidentally, your China is going to get smashed by a resurgent Bengal.
I'm sorry that but right there just killed me. Talk about talking out of the blue
Posted by collissimon (Member # 9346) on :
This topic looks really interesting, but before I read it, I was wondering what level this is for (i.e. university, school etc.) and if you have to use a reference system (be it the Harvard system, or in the text).
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
KoM: resurgent? When were they surgent?
Posted by Dr Strangelove (Member # 8331) on :
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Before you submit any paper, read it out loud. Every word of it. No skimming, no thinking "Oh, I could've also put in this tidbit of information here". Don't read it conceptually. Read it slow and methodically. Read every word of it aloud and see if it is comprehensible. Assess every sentence. If any part of it is vaguely confusing to you, the author, you can bet that it will cause problems for a first time reader. It may take a while (15 - 20 minutes ... oh so long), but before I tutor anybody for English I have them go somewhere quiet and read the paper aloud.
(crap, post 999. Now I gotta think up a Landmark ...)
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
Before Blayne started annexing half of Indo-China, the Bengalis were certainly much more powerful relative to China than they are now. So they will re-surge back to that relative level. Actually, though, I think the Bengali guy will be doing well to keep the Chinese and Mughals out of India.
Posted by collissimon (Member # 9346) on :
I'm not sure what you want me to comment on, but couldn't resist giving it a read, so I'll leave grammar and style and discuss your argument.
I think this topic is really interesting, and you have approached it from a decent angle (i.e. looking for common threads etc.). I can't help thinking though, that in some ways you're trying to achieve too much. You've given us 1000 years of history, and found some interesting links, but you could have given us 50 years of history and it would have been more contemporaneous.
Also, you talk about freedom being the opposite of a dictatorship, and playing devil's advocate, it would be interesting if there are people who disagree with you, for e.g. in Belarus there are probably plenty of people who would prefer their current regime rather than a more democratic system.
Also, when you talk about Hitler, isn't it the nature of a dictatorship to focus the power to one person, has that ever been a strength?
Finally, you mention at the beginning it's now harder to create a dictatorship than it once was. Do you think the nature of a dictatorial government has changed? How do you think it's feasible for a D.G. to emerge today? [Could you say that the focus of power in the Executive in the US and UK currently could constitute a form of D.?]
Just a couple of thoughts that your piece sparked, thanks for sharing!
Also, on an aside, whilst I remember have you read Phillip Roth's 'Plot against America'? I read it a while back, and it's really interesting about a dictatorship could develop in such a banal way that you wouldn't notice it happening.
Posted by littlemissattitude (Member # 4514) on :
When did we start spelling Hitler's first name "Adolph"?. It's "Adolf". Just sayin'.