We’ve been hearing an awful lot about dictators in the news lately. First, we learned quite a bit about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad–mostly in response to the horrific chemical attack a few weeks ago that killed over 80 people. Assad took over as President when his father died in 2000, and a civil war broke out in Syria in 2011. Mass murder (nearly half a million people have died) and arrests have been the result, and homeless refugees have fled their native Syria in terror. Assad is a real asshole, and he possesses significant control over his government.
This week, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey held a seriously whack election. He asked his people to vote to expand his powers as their leader, diminishing any checks and balances in their government. You’d think this one would be a no-brainer, right? Yet, Erdoğan believed the whole vote would be a slam dunk, and he squashed all opposition and cheated his way through the election to ensure that. Unfortunately, he succeeded, although by a very slim margin. His powers are now stronger than ever, and he is set to rule Turkey for a very long term.
So…what exactly is a dictator? Well, if you type the name into google, you’ll receive the following definition: “a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained power by force.”
Lately, though, I’ve contemplated less on what a dictator is and more on how a dictatorship starts. Their initial platforms probably don’t involve threats to commit genocide or to take away all individual rights. Even Hitler started off with some subtlety to his political career. However, these guys all started off with one very unique trait in common. They were all very strongly opinionated in their political views.
Think about it. On the conservative side of the political spectrum, you get the guys on the extreme right that turned totalitarian whackjob. This list includes Benito Mussolini of Italy, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and of course Adolf Hitler. These are the guys who started off on a platform of traditional values and limiting government’s role for social programs.
To be fair, though, there have been a number of left-wing dictators. I say this as a bleeding-heart liberal myself. Remember that Communism is considered to be a liberal construct, as it’s meant at its core to give everyone the same rights, salaries, and responsibilities as everybody else. Communism was meant to promote the ultimate equality. This sounds like an interesting idea, but there’s a reason why government shouldn’t have complete control over everything, including the economy. The result of these forays include famously dangerous dictators such as Fidel Castro of Cuba, Vladimir Lenin of Russia, Joseph Stalin of Russia, Mao Zedong of China, and Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
For both sides, there’s quite the list of murderous bastards. Whether they’re extremely conservative or extremely liberal to start with, these dictators simply turned into something this world doesn’t need. Bastards with power.
This might only be my general musing over this topic, but I do hope you take away one thought from all this.
No moderate has ever turned into a dictator. I’m just sayin’.