If there are some political parties in a country, the nation can take out their frustration at their government by changing the political party at the polls.

However it can't do it in a one-party dictatorship. How do the people in a one-party dictatorship take out their frustration at their government?

  • 1
    Revolt? Not sure exactly what you are getting at here. Taking out your frustration is really a psychological question not a political question.
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 2:31
  • It's not my frustration. I just want to know them. Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 2:50
  • The question should be : how can people express themselves in a dictatorship ??
    – Vincent
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 3:02
  • 4
    If you are frustrated with the party, you are free to take out your frustrating by hacking away at rocks in one of many of the party's mandatory dissident labor camps. The party provides this service for your own good.
    – Publius
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 3:54
  • 1
    @user45891 so can you please clarify about what the question is? Where the people in Chine can report the corruption cases besides on the internet or what?
    – Anixx
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 17:16

4 Answers 4


The theory goes that people turn their attention to other things. Entertainment, Patriotism, Family Life, Ambition through Approved Channels. Basically the same habits the West had prior to the 19th century.

We have to remember that until recently1, human civilization made its way without direct representation of the majority of its population. Democracy has a wide range of advantages but these aren't necessarily intuitive to people who've never had it and are preoccupied with day-to-day concerns2.

The minority that couldn't ignore the system (and had a choice in the matter) could either choose to emigrate or to join the ruling party. The second option isn't as unusual as it may seem. After all, that's where the moderates in an oligarchy come from.

It's when the second or third generation of otherwise acclimatised middle-class bureaucrats flee the country that you know it's on the way out.

1. Or not at all, depending on your cynicism.
2. Same reason why bipartisan corrosion of democracy is ignored here.

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    Theory goes - you may want to add a cite to who postulates that theory
    – user4012
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 12:42

This answer is about methods of taking out your frustration, as opposed to merely dealing with it or avoiding it.

Secret societies were invented for that exact purpose: You get together, anonymously, perhaps you even put on masks, and then you start bitching. Occasionally, action originates. This is how Freemasonry got its traction in the 19th century.

Another option was covert ridicule: Here is a lyric from a medieval German folk song:

Oh hang high
the loral wreath
him our prince
we shall revere

If you skip every second line the lyrics read

Oh hang high
him our prince

This couldn't have fooled anybody for long, but censors would most likely be overworked and understaffed and focused making examples of the most overt ridicule.

In a similar vein, a 19th century Prussian newspaper wrote a story about a shopkeeper who so revered Bismarck he printed his quotes on his toilet paper.

Apparently metaphor was not illegal.

There was, of course, also the tried and tested method of verbally or physically abusing your wife, dog, children and possibly subordinates; if these were not available, chopping wood has likewise stood the test of time.

Similarly, institutionalized animal cruelty was also considered quite liberating to oppressed people; the public spectacle of cat burning or blood sports like cock fighting seem to regularly disappear along with systematic human cruelty.

Black magic and other types of private symbolic malevolence also appear to enjoy more popularity in repressive settings.

Covert sabotage and willful ineffectiveness are among the safest routes to derive satisfaction by actually getting some form of revenge.

When oppression is based on moral grounds, secretly gathering in large groups and deliberately doing lots of forbidden acts in a short amount of time can release considerable pressure. Iranian dance parties come to mind, where kids gather in cellars, do ecstasy, listen to techno music with orgastic scream samples, knock back poorly mixed but graciously available gin and tonics, and perhaps shed the head cloth and other involuntary textiles.

The most rare, extreme and unpredictable possibility was, of course, to found or join an insurgency.


Looking at Saudi-Arabia it looks like formulating your political views in a religious language is a popular choice in that part of the world.

  • Huh. You're right. I entirely forgot the religious side-channel for political expression. I guess I was wrapped up thinking about secular dictatorships. +1 Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 11:40
  • Also in South American dictatorship it was often channelled in religion, for example liberation theology.
    – liftarn
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 13:56
  • @SVilcans Do you have some examples? I always enjoy subversive ingenuity.
    – John Woo
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 17:45
  • @SVilcans For example, how would a Saudi subversive religiously legitimize his lust for booze and loose women? I know you can get a ten minute marriage license in Iranian brothels.
    – John Woo
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 17:48

When people's desires are thwarted, their oppressed energy will find outlets in twisted forms, such as feverish pursuits of American dollar which is fiat with no intrinsic value. Democracy has intrinsic values because participation itself is a great source of happiness.

On the other hand, democracy is both an idea and a habit. We can no more expect a country to be democratic overnight than we can a people to be fluent in a foreign language in a matter of weeks. We need to create more Hong Kongs, more Taiwans and more South Koreas as forward operation bases of civilization, to spread modern ideas and to cultivate good habits.

  • Now President Xi has just warned against "immoral" art. That is exactly the kind of thing witarded people say. Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 13:45
  • Without intending to one-up you, and with plenty of sympathy for alternative currency enthusiasm, I you are giving unrelated opinions without answering the question.
    – John Woo
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 18:36

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