Why do people support a dictator?
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 91 21:32:28 EST
I disagree. While it may appear true on paper that a dictator
cannot survive without the support of the people, if he cannot have
their support, his supporters will ensure that they at least have
obedience. Obedience and support are 2 different things. Depending
on which of these you believe the Iraqi people follow will determine
which diagram is correct and consequently whether you believe the
Iraqi people are evil or not. It's a fine point but you cannot say
that because the obey, they give tacit support and consequently
must be evil.
I mean support in the sense of going about their day-to-day
activities, not support in the sense of approval. Perhaps the pond is
getting in the way of our English (ahem, American)?
It should also be borne in mind that there is more than one form
of dictator. Mussolini and Hitler both enjoyed popular support
from the people and the second diagram fits better. SH, Stalin,etc
do(did) not and the first diagram fits better.
I think I didn't explain myself well enough. Let me try quoting from
Gene Sharp's book, _The Politics of Nonviolent Action_, Part One, Power
and Struggle, p. 8:
Basically, there appear to be two views of the nature of power.
One can see people as dependent upon the good will, the decisions and
the support of their government or of any other hierarchical system to
which they belong. Or, conversely, one can see that government or
system dependent on the people's good will, decisions and support.
One can see the power of a government as emitted from the few who
stand at the pinnacle of command. Or one can see that power, in all
governments, as continually rising from many parts of the society.
One can also see power as self-perpetuating, durable, not easily or
quickly controlled or destroyed. Or political power can be viewed as
fragile, always dependent for its strength and existence upon a
replenishment of its sources by the cooperation of a multitude of
institutions and people--cooperation which may or may not continue.
It's unfair of you to apply a sweeping generalization that I
believe all power rests in a dictator and his supporters when you
know fine well that I was dealing with only the case where the
people obey rather than support.
To my mind, the support (in the sense that I used it above, which is
probably different than yours) is present when the obedience is present.
[Dead men digging (or not digging) ditch and obedience of order deleted]
]The reasons for obedience are many and varied. I might choose to dig one
]day, and die another. But if I choose to dig (do an evil act), then I
]do it by my own choice.
Your making the assumption that obeying the order to dig a ditch is
evil on the basis that you alone are the only one who will be
killed and it's your choice to make. As i pointed out in my
previous post, life's never as simple as this and the gun is almost
always pointed at someone else's head.
"Now dig the ditch or I will shoot your 9 month old son before your
As I said above, the reasons for obedience are many and varied. The use
of nonviolence may result in great horrors. But everyone agrees that war
always results in great horrors yet we perennially engage in them anyway.
That's more likely to be the choice you'd be given in Iraq.
Now do you obey the order and dig that ditch or do you sacrifice the childs
life because you believe that compliance would be support and consequently
Or do I do nothing, support Hussein, and have my child lead a life of slavery?
Or die in a war of liberation by foreign devils?
The ordinary Iraqi people have had no say in it at all.
In response I wrote:
No. The ordinary Iraqi people have had *all* the say in it -- but
they may not realize that. Hussein cannot run his country without their
obediance. They may disobey if they choose to do so, and Hussein may
bring sanctions into play, but has freedom ever been won cheaply?
In response he wrote:
No one is suggesting that freedom has ever been won cheaply, the question is
what price are you prepared to pay. Given the Kurdish experience I would say
that the price would be too high. Knives and forks against T72s aren't
In response I wrote:
You're assuming that violence can only be countered with violence. This is
not the case.
In response he wrote:
Then perhaps you have a constructive alternative to removing SH and
the Ba-ath party? Civil disobedience has been met with violence and,
by your own view, Sanctions only breeds *fear* of sanctions. An
alternative that would work?
I'm not really sure. I don't think that handing the Iraqi people
their freedom would work very well. Who values something they got for
free? In other words, I don't think that the violent approach is going
to work very well either, so why should nonviolence be held to a higher
standard of success than violence?
Last modified: Thu Jul 27 10:58:40 EDT 2000