The rising tide of dictatorship

Source- The post is based on the article “The rising tide of dictatorship” published in “The Hindu” on 17th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Polity

Relevance–  Threats to democracy

News– The article explains the subversion of democracy by majoritarian forces in current times.

What are the factors that lead to the rise of dictatorship?

History often repeats itself, especially when people forget that war or dictatorship or ethnic conflicts are not a solution to any issue.

Humanity still has not learnt from the brutal regimes that brought violence and bloodshed. Lessons from history fade away and nations continue to repeat these mistakes.

Revolutions, like those in France and Russia, gave an individual, absolute power. These emerged as failed empires under brutal dictatorships.

Widespread corruption, high crime rates, governmental incompetence, and the rule of law fail to awaken humanity. Such conditions give rise to “strong man” politics.

Dictatorships are forgotten by the public. People blindly begin to put faith in a leadership that projects competence and ability to advance the welfare of the people and the country.

After Stalin’s brutal regime, Cuban revolutionaries allowed their charismatic revolutionary leader to seize absolute power.

There is abuse of modern communication technology by authoritarian regimes for propaganda. It gives birth to manipulative dictatorships.

In current times, technological means are used to subjugate public opinion. Hitler and Stalin are replaced by Russia’s Putin, Peru’s Fujimore, Venezuela’s Chavez, Hungary’s Orbán and Turkey’s Erdoğan.

How is democracy being subverted in current times?

This is an era of strident nationalism and xenophobia. The hopes of a new world of progress, harmony and democracy have turned into despair.

Over the last few decades, use of violence as a weapon for retaining power has reduced.

Technology is used to manipulate and govern public opinion through deceit, lies, and deceptions under the guise of safeguarding the institution of democracy.

For reliability and acceptance, “non-democratic leaders” allow a certain amount of dissent in the independent media. Complete censorship is replaced by indiscriminate regulations.

Elections are made to look fair and honest, through money, manipulation and the creation of a cult leadership.

Mass use of force and subjugation has gradually converted into majoritarian brute force. It is supported by a subservient media that tactfully spins a public discourse which seems to be democratic. But, in reality it is a far right wing agenda.

This is apparently different from North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, or Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, who openly use subjugation, expurgation and physical punishment to remain in power.

Right-wing intellectuals continually make efforts to strengthen the discourse of nationalism through the politics of image building and exceptionalism. It captures the attention of the masses.

Criticism is pushed to the fringes while the dominant party discourse remains in full force. It is done through brain-washing the public with doublespeak and sophisticated means of surveillance and propaganda.

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