General Question

Knotmyday's avatar

How do tyrants rise to power?

Asked by Knotmyday (7516points) June 16th, 2008

At what point does a country wake up and say “Hey, we’re not a democracy any more?”

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9 Answers

iwamoto's avatar

it’s a very very slow process, and of course, some realize quicker then others, i guess by the time you realize it’s already too late…

eambos's avatar

They usually come to power by “seizing” it through millitary strength or in other hostile ways. Some, like Saddam Hussein, were actually elected to office and then amass enough power to take control.

elmagico's avatar

I’d say the country wasn’t a healthy democracy in the first place if some tyrant can easily take over control.

I think it’s a slow process, I never heard of an example where a tyrant took over a functioning democracy. Either it’s an elected leader declaring a state of emergency and taking over (and then never giving the power back) or someone taking over some destabilized state that never was a democracy in the first place.

Most of the countries you’d consider being ruled by a so called tyrant either never where functioning democracies before that, or they went through a lasting grave destabilizing phase (war, civil war, independence efforts by regions, economy failing and state falling apart etc) that undermined the constitutional state bit by bit and finally allowed someone to take over the whole mess.

marinelife's avatar

I agree with everyone who mentioned the slow process. Further, that is why I am dismayed that people in our country are complacent in the face of our own eroding civil liberties. I hate it when I hear someone say, “Why should I mind? I don’t have anything to hide,” a sentiment which misses the point. The erosion process is a slippery slope.

Bush with his attempts to undermine court authorization of wire taps is a case in point.

gailcalled's avatar

And the undermining of Habeas Corpus. 4 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices (the usual suspects) thought that under some circumstances (prisoners at Guantanamo Bay), the concept could be eliminated.

“The four right-wing justices joined together in two particularly vicious dissents, one authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and the other by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who all but labeled Kennedy a traitor, stating that his opinion ‘will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.’ ”

Kay's avatar

Ineffective leadership by current government + frustrated, impoverished populace + violence and instability + powerful, political figure that is against the current regime = Good conditions for a tyrant to come to power.

While the transition to such a leadership change may seem slow in retrospect, in most countries where this happens (i.e. the developing world) this change is often swift and brutal when it happens and the new tyrant quickly moves to establish power and make sweeping changes to the structure of the state. I think most of the countries have poor, frustrated people who want someone who can come in and make things better in a quick and decisive manner. A tyrannical single-ruler government is an effective way to make change quickly and palpably.

b's avatar

Other tyrants put them there. But where did the other tyrants come from?

shawnlxc's avatar

I think simply it boils down to brainwashing the simple minded

gailcalled's avatar

Google the rise of Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito, Idi Amin, Mao, Ho Chi Min, Marcos etc; see what the political, social and financial climates enabled them to do what they did.

Kay gave us an encapsulated, yet detailed perfect summary of the general conditions needed to put power into the hands of one man.

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