Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Stay In Power?

Authoritarian regimes tend to stay in power for a number of reasons. First of all, they seek to control a citizen’s private and public life in order to keep behaviors and opinions unified amongst the people living in the state. If such thoughts and behaviors even slightly oppose those of the party in control there are severe consequences. In the novel Son of the Revolution, Liang Heng’s mother was encouraged to gently criticize her workplace in order to better it through suggestions, she ended up branded a rightist and was sent to be reformed. After hearing news of his wife’s supposed disloyalty towards the party, Liang Heng’s father immediately shuns his mother for fear of the same outcome.

O’Neil describes authoritarianism as the denial of citizens rights to participation, competition and liberty in the Government process. They maintain power through a single party process in which the party in control decides every aspect of the political process, and continually manipulates the process to maintain wealthy and powerful. The purges during the early days of the Stalin regime are exemplary of the kinds of tactics used by an authoritarian regime to strike fear and submission into the hearts of the citizens. Stalin held mass arrests of supporters of the communist party in the U.S.S.R as well as the general bureaucracy in order to further establish his control on not only the government of the nation, but the citizens as well.

Today an authoritarian regime such as the one currently instilled in North Korea uses generally the same tactics that General Mao did in China to stay in control. “Perhaps most important, the North Korean regime is brutal in its use of force. Dissent is detected through an elaborate network of informants working for multiple internal security agencies.” North Korea scares its citizens into worshipping the thoughts and opinions of the Supreme leader Kim Jong-Un for fear of life in a prison camp or execution. In July the North Korean defense chief was executed after falling asleep at a meeting attended by Kim Jong-Un. Un felt as if the defense chief was disrespecting him and the country, so he ordered an execution through the military. Kim Jong-Un also rewards the political elite and military with incentives like better food and higher pay in order to control the higher class. In turn he is able to enforce any laws he has set through the military, and use propaganda to get citizens of the state to follow his rules.

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3158786/Seoul-North-Korea-media-confirms-purging-defense-chief.html

http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/20269/keeping_kim.html

O’Neil, Patrick H. Essentials of Comparative Politics. 5th ed. S.l.: W W Norton, 2015.

Gat, Azar “The Return of Authoritarian Great Powers.” Foreign Affairs July/August 2007. http://www.jstor.org/stable/i20032409

-Son Of The Revolution (1983)

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6 thoughts on “Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Stay In Power?

    • Societies in an authoritarian country are known to be well disciplined, obedient, and have a high advantage in terms of education. The management of the society is well coordinated, which makes the decision making method more quicker. Since the leader or ruling party has absolute powers they can take quick and prompt actions. We have examples like USSR and China.

  1. I think it is important to note the different ways that Mao kept in power compared to your example of the North Korea’s Un’s methods. Mao used a combination of corporatism and clientelism. He utilized his Red Guard and other resources to sanction and limit society’s freedom. Mao also used the educational system to incorporate his propaganda and build up other organizations like the Red Guard. While Kim Jong-Un solely uses his military force and threat of violence to rule his country. Authoritarian leaders have many different methods of keeping there citizens in control, and violence is not always the best option because of threat of revolution.

  2. You might want to discuss how these regimes use censorship of outside news and information to minimise the chance of a reality check with the rest of the world.

  3. I think another important factor to extrapolate on, can be seen in the relationship between Liang Heng’s father and mother as well as the relationship they had with their children. The CCP and furthermore Mao, were highly effective at indoctrinating their population with the instillment of their ideologies. The resulting infighting is a direct result of these regimes extending influence far beyond tangible means. Loyalty to the CCP superseded all other familial ties in the case of Liang Heng’s father. The ability for parties to invade the minds of it’s citizens with such extensive and successful propaganda techniques could likely help further our understanding of how regimes, like the one in North Korea, remain in power. It may not be simply fear, but rather misguided love and devotion, that motivates citizens’ into supporting totalitarian regimes.

  4. AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES LAST FOR A WHILE BUT IN THE END ARE BOUND TO FRACTURE AND CRASH. ONE CURRENT EXAMPLE IS RUSSIA WITH PUTIN. PUTIN, WHO I DISLIKE, IS VERY CLEVER. TO SURVIVE THE WAY THEY ARE RUNNING RUSSIA TODAY, PUTIN NEEDS OIL PRICES TO BE AT AROUND $100 A BARREL. NEEDLESS TO SAY THEY ARE SIGNIFICANTLY BELOW THAT PRICE TODAY. ALOT OF BELT TIGHTENING MEASURES HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN RUSSIA TO INCLUE NO CPI INCREASE IN PENSIONS, HAVING TO PAY TO TRAVEL ON THE MOSCOW SUBWAY FOR THE FIRST TIME, ETC..

    TO TAKE THE FOCUS OFF AN ECONOMY THAT IS IN TROUBLE PUTIN IS ENGAGING IN EXTERNAL ACTIVITIES TO INCLUE TAKING OVER CRIMERA , CAUSING TROUBLE IN THE UKRAINE AND NOW HIS CURRENT “VICTORY” IN SYRIA. THESE ACTIVITIES STIR A VERY POSITIVE FEELING OF NATIONALISM
    IN THE RUSSIA POPULATION. ALSO, VIA HISTORY, THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE WILL PUT UP WITH ALOT OF BELT TIGHTENING VERSUS A PROSPEROUS DEMOCRACIES LIKE THE UNITED STATES, GERMANY, ETC..

    OVERALL, A SEREIS OF VERY CLEVER MOVES BY PUTIN. THIS COUPLED WITH NO FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, ETC. WILL KEEP PUTIN IN POWER FOR A FEW A FEW MORE YEARS, BUT EVENTUALLY, THE
    PUTIN REGIME WILL FALL BECAUSE THE PEOPLE WILL NOT TOLERATE BELT TIGHTENING WHILE
    PUTIN AND HIS “THUGS” LIVE IN EXTREME LUXURY.

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