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Frequent Contributor
Jon_B
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Registered: ‎07-15-2008
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Re: Enough..


Everyman wrote:

Everyman, I'm curious about this point you raised here.

 

 

Two basic reasons.

 

One: I see every form of government except dictatorship as being, in the long run,  inherently unstable.   Democracy can be stable during times of prosperity, where the public can in fact afford to vote themselves virtually anything they feel they need, but as we're starting to see in Europe, that process has its limits, and eventually it will collapse and something else will have to arise to take its place.  That may be oligarchy, but oligarchy itself is inherently unstable -- I'm not aware of any oligarchical government which has lasted more than a few generations at most.  Dictatorship is, I would argue, the most efficient form of government; most modern dictatorships have been destroyed from outside, not inside.  Think of Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam, Milosevic.  Russia was of course a significant exception, it imploded internally, but even then the pressure on them came from their attempt to compete economically, not militarily, with external forces.  

 


 
Interesting point - there are of course some other modern dictatorships that collapsed from within such as those in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania which preceded (and arguably contributed to) the collapse of the USSR  - but cases like North Korea and Turkmenistan show that a dictator can abuse their people to an extreme degree and still remain in power.  In fact in support of your point, I'd say that had rulers like Hitler and Milosevic kept their dictatorship within their own borders they'd probably not have been taken down by external forces at all.
 

 

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Jon_B
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Re: Civil unrest and dictatorship.


Choisya wrote:
Jon:  In the article from Le Monde which I linked to, one of the points made about civil unrest was that that are '200 million guns in circulation in the US and social violence already manifests itself through gangs'.  Do you think that this might increase the likelihood of a dictatorship should civil unrest 'break out' because of the recession/depression?   

 
Hard to say.  One argument is that the prevelence of weapons in our society makes it less likely for a dictator to come to power - the basis of the argument being that it's a lot harder to rule a population by force when that population is well armed.   However in the event of civil unrest, the sense of fear and chaos is something a dictator could take advantage of, weapons or not.  
One thing to keep in mind about the US is that it's geographically huge and there's an important cultural notion of "rugged individualism".  Which I think will stay here in some fashion even if the nation itself were to split up into several nations.  So even if the country or some part of the country is under the control of a dictator there will always be individuals, families, small groups, communes, etc. who don't acknowledge that government and who live as they will, defending themselves with their own weapons.    
 

 

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Everyman
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Re: Civil unrest and dictatorship.

Hard to say.  One argument is that the prevelence of weapons in our society makes it less likely for a dictator to come to power - the basis of the argument being that it's a lot harder to rule a population by force when that population is well armed. 

 

That's a wonderful point that could easily be argued either way.

 

One thing that's pretty clear is that if the colonials in New England in the 1770s had no had any guns or other weapons, we might well still be playing God Save the Queen at the start of baseball games.   It was access to guns that enabled the Minutemen to foment revolution against the functional dictatorship of the colonial government. 

 

However one may interpret the Second Amendment, there's not much question, I think, that our founders felt that guns in the hands of citizens were a valuable contributor to our freedom from dictatorship.  

 

One could argue, of course, that the world has changed, and of course we'll never know definitively until some dictator tries to take over the US and is or is not thwarted by an armed citizenry.  But you offer a valid thesis, even if unprovable either way. 

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Choisya
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Re: Civil unrest and dictatorship.

I guess the point is that one way or another those intent on overthrowing a government will find weapons by hook or by crook.  It has happened in poor African countries, it can happen anywhere. 

 

Rugged individualism is nothing to do with separatism - there have always been separatist movements and there always will be.  The Balkans could have been called a collection of separatist movements for centuries!

 

I think we all like to think that our countries cannot be overthrown but history seems to prove otherwise.  As with other things, size matters :smileyhappy:, but look what happened to the Czar of Russia - without all that many weapons! 

 

'Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty - power is ever stealing from the many to the few... The hand entrusted with power becomes...the necessary enemy of the people.  Only by continual oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot: only by unintermitted Agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.' 

 

(Attributed to Jefferson, Wendell Phillips and others.)

 

 


Jon_B wrote:

Choisya wrote:
Jon:  In the article from Le Monde which I linked to, one of the points made about civil unrest was that that are '200 million guns in circulation in the US and social violence already manifests itself through gangs'.  Do you think that this might increase the likelihood of a dictatorship should civil unrest 'break out' because of the recession/depression?   

Hard to say.  One argument is that the prevelence of weapons in our society makes it less likely for a dictator to come to power - the basis of the argument being that it's a lot harder to rule a population by force when that population is well armed.   However in the event of civil unrest, the sense of fear and chaos is something a dictator could take advantage of, weapons or not.  
One thing to keep in mind about the US is that it's geographically huge and there's an important cultural notion of "rugged individualism".  Which I think will stay here in some fashion even if the nation itself were to split up into several nations.  So even if the country or some part of the country is under the control of a dictator there will always be individuals, families, small groups, communes, etc. who don't acknowledge that government and who live as they will, defending themselves with their own weapons.    

 


 

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Everyman
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Re: Civil unrest and dictatorship.

I think you got Jon's point backward, Choisya.

 

It's not that those who want to overthrow the government can get hold of weapons, which is the point you made and certainly seems true enough in most cases.

 

It's that those who want to resist those who want to take over the government may, if they are adequately armed, be able to prevent it.

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Choisya
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Re: Civil unrest and dictatorship.


Everyman wrote:

I think you got Jon's point backward, Choisya.

 

I wasn't really answering Jon, I was answering myself and the Le Monde article.  In other words, the possession of thousands of guns in America will not, as they suggest, necessarily lead to either civil unrest or the overthrow of government - if people want guns for such a purpose they will get them.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's not that those who want to overthrow the government can get hold of weapons, which is the point you made and certainly seems true enough in most cases.

 

It's that those who want to resist those who want to take over the government may, if they are adequately armed, be able to prevent it.


 

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Everyman
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Re: Civil unrest and dictatorship.

And the presence of an armed citizenry will make it much more challenging for a dictator to rise to power.  Even if they have the military on their side, the numbers are overwhelming in favor of the citizenry. 

 

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Frequent Contributor
Jon_B
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Re: Civil unrest and dictatorship.

[ Edited ]

I think the only way a dictator could hold on to and excercize any power in this country as it is today would be if they were enormously popular - far more popular than presidents like Obama or Reagan. Which is basically impossibile given the contrasting values between large segments of the country's population.  America as it is right now is simply far too culturally diverse for a true dictator to come into power and hold it through popularity, and they could certainly not do so by force in this country for the reason Everyman mentioned above.

 

However I do think it's quite likely that in the future if the United States were to fracture into a multitude of smaller, more culturally homogenous nations, then it would indeed be very possible for a dictator to come to power in one of them - though I wouldn't go so far as to say it was inevitable.

 

Message Edited by Jon_B on 03-07-2009 11:10 AM
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Everyman
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Re: Civil unrest and dictatorship.

The other way would be a major crisis -- a nuclear attack by China, for example, or an invasion by Mexico or Canada or some other crisis so overwhelming that it overcame the right-left split and made everybody crave a strong, dynamic leader who promised, believably, to lead us out of the crisis. 

 

 

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TheDutchCanadian
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎03-16-2009
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

No, It has never happened, and the closest we got to it was when Washington was chosen as president, but he choose democracy over monarchy. I don't think it is possible to become a dictator in America. Like some have pointed out, Americans get information fast and have free* educations. And, as we have seen with Bush and will have seen with most presidents, if something bad happens to America or something goes wrong, the blame usualy lands on the president and his administration. So, even if totalinarianism come to in Americaand the dictator is liked, it will only take one crisis, or multiple crises, and then the whole dictatorship will come tumbling down.

 

"Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power." (I thought it may apply) 

 

*The funds for the education system comes from taxes that American citizens/businesses pay(along with other sources), so it is not really free.

 

 

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TheRedMenace
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Registered: ‎03-27-2009
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

Although I disagree with the inevitability of American dictatorship, it is a fun topic to throw around.  One of my favorite versions of how it could happen is "It Can't Happen Here" by Sinclair Lewis.  It's a fun read, with an interesting theory.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Can%27t_Happen_Here

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Choisya
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

Like some have pointed out, Americans get information fast and have free* educations.

 

Most of the western world can get fast information via internet and satellite TV and they too have 'free' education paid for by taxes.  However, there was free education in Soviet Russia and in Germany in the 1930s so.....  As I have written in the Current Events 'dying newspapers' thread, I think Americans (and Brits) are too complacent about their freedom. Since 9/11 both our nations have lost a great many liberties which we formerly took for granted and dictatorships inch in by the back door not the front:smileysad:.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


TheDutchCanadian wrote:

No, It has never happened, and the closest we got to it was when Washington was chosen as president, but he choose democracy over monarchy. I don't think it is possible to become a dictator in America. Like some have pointed out, Americans get information fast and have free* educations. And, as we have seen with Bush and will have seen with most presidents, if something bad happens to America or something goes wrong, the blame usualy lands on the president and his administration. So, even if totalinarianism come to in Americaand the dictator is liked, it will only take one crisis, or multiple crises, and then the whole dictatorship will come tumbling down.

 

"Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power." (I thought it may apply) 

 

*The funds for the education system comes from taxes that American citizens/businesses pay(along with other sources), so it is not really free.

 

 


 

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Conrad_Jalowski
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

This is an interesting topic. There is a great possibility of the United States of America dilapidating into despotism. According to Plato, the forms of government consist of such a timeline:

 

1. timocracy: [government led by the just and benevolent who rule in moderate terms and who seek to alleviate certain grievances to the populace and at the same time maintaining order; a non-Hobbesian order]

 

2. aristocracy:  [the timocracy after multitudinous generations would not be instilled with the liberty loving and virtues that had produced the particular state from which liberty, peace and concord had been sown and that had sprouted to great magnificence and height. The aristocracy would be based on the presumption of wealth, prestige and influence as those best fit to maintain the order, discipline and power of the particular political entity.]

 

3. oligarchy: [the aristocracy would degenerate and devolve into a an oligarchic foundation that were contumelious and prone to kerdomeletia. The great upheaval, turmoil and anguish would result in bloodshed and mortal tremors of the state.]

 

4. democracy:  [power is in the hands of the people leading to the rise of sophists and demagogues who would consolidate power into their own hands with their flosculation and sway the populace. Anarchy would ensue until a individual devoted to the principles and traditions of the people would create a new order based on liberty and virtue.]

 

Niccolo Machiavelli based his research on the Polybian Cycle that consists of a continual cycle of governmental change. This cycle is continual and would never cease to exist as long as there are no external threats that would attempt to dissolve and sow the abjuration of the political state. The cycle consisted of:

 

1. Principality

2. Tyranny/Despotism

3. Aristocracy

4. Oligarchy

5. Democracy

6. Anarchy

 

There is also a great dichotomy that exists between the needs of the individual as opposed to civil society:

 

Thomas Hobbes proposed a social contract between the ruler and the ruled. In exhange for maintaining order and discipline, and stemming the tide of human vulgarities and baseness, the populace had to be completely loyal and devoted to the ruler(s) and never oppose or question the promulgations, decrees and decisions of the Hobbesian sovereign. In addition, the concept of 'caesaropapism' or of the uniting of the secular and ecclesiastical under one supreme authority would be a prominent component.

 

Hugo Grotius stated that there was an international order that was superior to the whim of the sovereign or even that of the will of the entire nation. This led to to international diplomacy and the concept of political equipollence, or a balance of powers. (Francesco Sforza of the Sforza line of Milan who had replaced the Visconti line of Milan, was a major proponent of the concept of the 'balance of powers' during the Early Modern Period.)

 

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon stated that government is based not on the familial or communal units as the basic model of civil society but of individualistic means, or that the individual was the epicenter of civil society.

 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau stated that the concept of 'popular sovereignty' was the will of the nation and was superior to the will of an oligarchic foundation. (In essence, this denied the individualistic rights and the rights of the minority as opposed to the whim of the majority.)

 

As for historical examples, we look to Ancient Athens, the Roman Republic, the Roman Principate and the Polish-Lithuanian-(Ruthenian) Commonwealth.

 

Ancient Athens was a democracy for a particular period of time due to the reforms of Solon, Cleisthenes, Ephialtes, Pericles and Thrasybulus. The 'polis' of Athens was able to maintain a flexibility of political order as had the Roman Republic. The 'Areopagus' was the council of the aristocracy from where the 'archon' or chief magistrate was chosen. The 'boule' or judiciary board acted in conjuction with the 'Areopagus' and the 'ekklesia', or the assembly. Such a Montesquieuan system of a tricameral system and of a system of checks and balances was flexibile and reasonably durable. The Roman Republic consised of authoritative elements (the choosing of the dictator for a period of six months and the two consuls of ultimate political power), a democratic element (the civilian tribunes who voiced the opinions of the plebeians and common citizens) and the legislative branch (the Senate House).

 

The Roman Principate: 27 BCE-235 CE maintained a guise of Republican values but its core was entirely autocratic. The 'Lex Imperio de Vespasiani' is an excellent record of the political theory and justifications of a one-man rule.

 

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth existed on the foundation of the 'liberum veto' in which a single negative expression of "veto" would undo the entire election process of a new Polish-Lithuanian sovereign. Due to the liberal political processes and the resultant instability of the Commonwealth, foreign invaders dismembered it and divided it amongst themselves (Partitions of the Commonwealth: 1772, 1793, 1795).

 

All in all, the same political process will occur in the United States of America as every political order undergoes senescence and internal dilapidation before either imploding or being subjugated by external threats.

 

"A World-Historical individual is devoted to the One Aim, regardless of all else. It is even possible that such men may treat other great, even sacred interests inconsiderately; conduct which is indeed obnoxious to moral reprehension. But so mighty a form must trample down many an innocent flower or crush to pieces many an object in its path."

From G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of History in Jacob Loewenberg (ed.), Hegel: Selections (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1929), pp. 376-80.
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Choisya
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Re: Appomattox Again?

Perhaps this is the way an American dictatorship will come about - from the right?

'Appomattox Again. Lately, the news has been flooded with reports of citizens arming themselves to the teeth, egged on by right-wing media personalities prophesying doom, the rise of socialism, and that a Marxist dictator now sits in the Oval Office. This frenzy has been spilling from talk radio and television out into the streets for weeks now, and has recently metastasized into acts of outrageous violence. It smells like a new beginning of something this nation has not been forced to endure for nearly a decade.'

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GrouchoMarxist
Posts: 41
Registered: ‎04-11-2009
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

I believe that 9/11 and its PATRIOT Act aftermath are the American equivalent to the Third Reich's Reichstag fire and its "Enabling Act." Futhermore, the passage of American "Universal Civilian Service" (designed to protect "the homeland from domestic terrors," i.e. a never-ending psychological game) will help the current US president erode freedom of choice prior to full militarization. 


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