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.
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)