89

People are resources, dictators (and oppressive regimes in general) don't want them to defect to other countries because they want them working for their regime. Some of them are going to be people that the regime has put their resources into, like scientists and doctors, but even laborers are valuable for actually gathering and assembling the resources the ...


85

The only obstacle between a government by the people and a dictatorship are the people.


83

tl;dr: Because the middle ages are over. You no longer want to be King - you want to be President Most of the world used to be ruled by kings and emperors, but today the only remaining absolute hereditary monarchies in the world are Saudi-Arabia, Brunei, Qatar, Oman and Eswatini. There are still lots of countries which are still officially hereditary ...


79

Most democratic countries have a constitution which says how the state functions and what kinds of laws can and can not be made. Laws which contradict the constitution are usually declared invalid by a constitutional court. However, most democracies also have a process by which they can modify the constitution. This usually requires a larger majority than a ...


56

This is a question that the selectorate theory tries to answer. Essentially: As a dictator, you need to identify the people who are essential to you remaining in power. For example: the controllers of the army, the police, etc. Then, you need to establish control of the revenue stream. This can take the form of taxes from the people, or natural resources ...


53

I am old enough to have caught the communism era within one Eastern-European country (Romania). Trying to leave the country was a criminal offence and many died trying to do so. Many people that had to leave the country for business/sport events reasons were typically supervised by Security to ensure that they come back. A dictator is usually interested ...


42

A good example of a system trying to prevent this is the Constitution of Norway. The constitution has various ways to protect itself from being altered in undesirable ways. Changes to the constitution require a 2/3 majority in parliament, and perhaps more importantly, they require two consecutive parliaments to confirm the changes. This means that if a ...


39

The short answer would be: Because even dictators cannot simply do whatever they want. Let's for example take a look at one of the oldest dictators of history: Caesar Augustus. Now, technically Augustus was a king in all but name, but couldn't effectively call himself one, because the Romans, since having deposed of their last king centuries ago, despised ...


33

An excellent example is the German Democratic Republic. In the view of the leading socialists they were the worker's paradise and a counterexample to the fascist Germany in the West (that was not really the untruth in the first years because many Nazis survived unscathed). While in the West the Marshall Plan caused a fast recovery of the economy, Soviet ...


30

What makes you think there is a common secret? There are parallels and differences between all those cases. A government will not hold unless it is supported by a significant part of the population. That does not have to be a majority as long as there is no clear majority against the government which can unite behind an alternative. A government which ...


19

To some extent because the Kims have fully embraced being despots and successfully coopted their military in supporting them. A lot of the successful rebellions, or at least protest movements, in the 20th century ultimately came down to the military refusing to shoot their own citizens at scale. People power sounds great, except it ultimately cannot ...


16

If you really want to know the details, the best resource I know of for the layman is the Cannonical Arab Tyrant's Manual. It was started as a hashtag during the beginning of the Arab Spring by online activist Iyad al-Baghdadi, and was built collaboratively by contributors. I'll quote some of the highlights below (skipping similar entries) Blame it on a ...


14

There are, but what exactly those things are will depend on the specific political context the autocrat and democratic government find themselves in. The Theory A government of any kind is constrained to a certain set of actions. They may be constrained by formal institutions (laws, branches of government, specific scopes of operation) or informal things (...


14

An example from Romania: Before the fall of socialism, it was very difficult to travel into capitalist countries. It was not completely impossible, but very difficult, so it was practically impossible for the majority of the population. There was an old lady we knew, who managed to get an approval to travel to the USA, because she had close relatives there (...


14

(I'll assume that these dictators you're referring to actually want absolute power. It's not obvious that this is the case in general.) The following quote is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. For context: Lord Voldemort is the "big bad guy", the Ministry of Magic is effectively the government, and the Minister of Magic is the head of that ...


13

Many answer focus on resources (people and the money/products they can generate) and blocking of outside information (preventing people having other comparatives or being able to compare their country with others). One answer mentioned **cognitive disonnance*", and I want to take that as a starting point. I grew up in the era of the Soviet Union. Many ...


13

One of the primary characteristics of leadership is legitimacy: a leader needs to present him/herself as as having a legitimate right to hold the powers of authority granted to leaders. Up until the late 18th century or so, legitimacy was tied to deeds and birth. Someone would commit a 'deed' — usually a military victory that demonstrated a capacity to exert ...


13

Other answers are right at explaining why a dictator shouldn't want to proclaim himself king. However, it isn't exact to say that they don't because even in the 20th century some of them did or tried to do, although most of them failed - which seems to confirm the answers that say that they shouldn't have tried. A few examples: Yuan Shikai (as Hongxian ...


12

First, one needs to understand that no autocratic ruler rules alone. They always need key supporters. These key supporters might be called generals, dukes, ministers, cardinals, corporations, senators, advisors or something else, but fact is, whatever an autocratic ruler decides will only have effect when the supporters act on them. Now what if the ruler ...


12

Given your stated party affiliation, the implication is that you want to know how the US could become a dictatorship under a flawed but idolized executive who is beloved by the masses. First, you need an extreme popular support (at a 30-40% approval rating, you're no where close with present executives, so there). Next, you need to be able to get a super-...


12

I don't know as much about internal politics of Belarus', but I can answer how it works in Russia. It's no secret, really. There is a strong cult of personality aimed specifically at Putin. A lot of state propaganda aims at creating an image of "good Tzar and bad boyars". I.e. anything good that happens happens because of Putin, but anything bad ...


11

@hszmv's excellent answer already alludes to this - there is also another major factor, to whit, the guys with big sticks. AKA, the military. Obviously, how the military feels about things has a very large effect on success of any major national transformation. If the majority of the military opposes your bid for power, no matter how "legal"/"democratic", ...


10

Because by travelling people extend their horizons. By travelling your experience becomes less limited to what you know from your daily life. Even nowadays you can see the example: intolerance towards different people is result of limited perspectives, and people who travel are much less prone to this. They are also less affected by information from media ...


8

Not all dictatorships are created equal. What they have in common: Pretending to be a democracy (monarchies are happy in their own club). Top-down economy. The government has a steady (for an extended period) income not really depending on taxes. It may be high profit government-owned or controlled natural resources (oil), government-owned big businesses, ...


7

The vast majority of new representative democracies lapse into dictatorship early on. The English Civil War in England the converted England from a monarchy to a Republic in the late 1600s, collapsed after a few years and was followed by the restoration of an absolute monarchy from which a representative democracy emerged gradually over the next two hundred ...


7

The OECD has productivity data (GDP per hour worked) going back to 1986, so it has data for the last 4 years of Pinochet's rule. In each of those years, productivity increased. On a scale in which 2010 is 100, Chilean productivity increased from 43 to 47 between 1986 and 1990. This is typical productivity growth for most countries at the time. There is no ...


7

Yes. You could conceivably have a democratic communism. Communism is an economic type not a government type. Communism is simply a system of non ownership and shared resources for a group of people, in this case a nation. You could have a nation that agrees that no one owns or has anything other than a temporary possession of any thing. That any item ...


7

Elections give legitimacy. Even if there is no other option, if you can report that the majority of voters wanted the dictator to stay in power, it looks better. The dictatorship can then claim to the international community that they have a free country following the will of the people. The goal may be to give their own populace the illusion of a choice ...


7

Well, one obvious justification is that it means the parliament does not have to assemble. It is difficult to organize a parliamentary debate while keeping social distancing. What if some legislators get into contact with an infected person. Could they still speak and cast their vote, or would they be banned during the quarantine period? Of course the ...


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