14 indicators of dictatorship

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Sam Carana

Aug 22, 2006, 10:15:24 PM8/22/06
to Libertaria
In the article, "Fascism Anyone?", Laurence Britt compared the regimes
of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet and identified 14
characteristics common to those fascist regimes.

In an interview, Britt discusses how these indicators can be used as
warning signs that a nation is becoming more fascist.

The project for the Old American Century applies these 14 points to the
current situation in the US, featuring news articles from the start of
the Bush presidency divided into topics relating to each of the 14
points, at:

Of course, these 14 points can be checked for each nation. The most
defining charactaristics of dictatorial regimes, including fascism,
communism and religious fundamentalism, is contempt for people's
rights, in particular privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of
choice. They all have a sick sense of "equality", in that they force
people equally into a straightjacket, while killing those who don't fit

I'll highlight more simularities between communist, fascism, religious
fundamentalism and other forms of dictatorship, by slightly amending
Britt's original 14 points. The 14 points below are good indicators of

1. Nationalism.

While fascism, communism and religious fundamentalism may be seen as
global doctrines, their implementation is typically very local,
privileging one specific city and identifying one race as "the chosen
people". Dictators love to encourage the associated patriotism with
speeches, mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia.
Schools are used as breeding places for patriotic soldiers. The
military is glorified and imitated at school, in parades, hymns,
pledges, ceremonies, flags, uniforms and sport. This nurtures hostility
from a young age towards those deemed to be different.

2. Contempt for people's rights.

Under the pretence of national security, violation of rights is
institutionalised. This is particularly the case in regard to privacy,
freedom of expression and freedom of choice. Fascism, communism and
religious fundamentalism all have a sick sense of "equality", seeking
to fit and mould everyone into the same straightjacket that only suits
the cause of the regime.

3. Using scapegoats and external enemies as a an instrument to unify
people behind the regime.

Dictatorship inevitably results in economic inefficiencies, poverty,
human misery, cronyism, bureaucratic waste, lower standards of living
and lack of moral values. To hide this and many of the other
shortcomings of the dictatorial regime, it seeks to divert attention by
pointing at perceived common threats or foes: those who are racially,
ethnically, culturally or religiously different from the majority of
the "chosen people". Furthermore: politicians, intellectuals, artists,
journalists and writers who question the regime are branded as
dissidents, as traitors and as the cause of all problems.

4. Glorification of the military.

Fascism, communism and religious fundamentalism all pack their
doctrines in terms of struggle and battle against perceived opponents,
creating devils and enemies out of thin air. Soldiers and military
service are glamorized. Despite the typical economic misery, the
military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding. A
national military-industrial complex is created to act under the cloak
of secrecy, placing itself and its staff above the law, above
journalistic scrutiny and above market accountibility. This complex
will steadily grow like an octopus with many tentacles that intertwine
into areas like suppliers of military equipment, media, science,
forensics, customs, prisons, airports, education and health care.

5. Rampant sexism.

Positions of importance in these regimes are almost exclusively
male-dominated. There is strong opposition against anything that
differs from the traditional family.

6. Controlled mass media.

Typically, the media are directly controlled by the government;
alternatively, a front of sympathatic apologists is appointed to
control the media. Censorship is common. Contempt for privacy, freedom
of expression and freedom of choice is rampant.

7. Obsession with national security.

Fear is used as an instrument to control society and to discourage
people from questioning the regime. People are terrified into
collaborating and making sacrifices for the national interest, under
the pretence that any questioning of decisions made by the ruling elite
was an act of treason that was inspired by those seeking to undermine
national security.

8. Religion and government are intertwined.

Dictatorial regimes like to use the predominant religion in a country
as a tool to manipulate public opinion and to portay themselves as
militant defenders of that religion. Religious rhetoric and terminology
is commonly used by government leaders, even when the major tenets of
the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or
actions. Any concerns that the ruling elite's conduct may contradict
the precepts of the respective religion are swept under the carpet.
People are told to have faith in the wisdom of their leader. Staged
propaganda on controlled media keeps up the illusion that those who
make up the ruling elite were defenders of the faith and leaders
against the "infidels". A perception is manufactured that any
questioning of this ruling elite was tantamount to treason and
constituted an attack on this religion.

9. Business is controlled.

The industrialists and the local business aristocracy that feeds on
this military-industrial complex typically support such dictatorial
regimes that exercize strict control over business activities to hide
their shortcomings and to prevent outsiders from entering these captive

10. Access to work is restricted and workers are organized by trade.

Workers are coerced into organizing themselves on an exclusive basis,
by trade or profession. This enables the dictator to easily pass orders
from the top down and mobilize workers to support the dictatorship, as
if this was in line with workers' interest. This will ensure that
workers are more worried about outsiders entering their closed shop
than work conditions or what they earn.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.

Dictators nurture open hostility towards academics, politicians,
intellectuals, artists, journalists and writers who question the
regime. Such people are branded as dissidents and traitors, and removed
from their jobs. Instead, people are appointed into academic positions,
the judiciary and positions of cultural importance on the basis of
support for the regime. Dissidents are silenced, censored and arrested.
Free expression in the media and in the arts is muzzled, making them
into mouthpieces for the regime.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment.

Dictatorial regimes are characterized by the large proportion of people
imprisioned, executed or disappearing under their rule. Police and
secret police are given draconian, unchecked and almost limitless
powers. Political dissidents are targeted and depicted as the worst

13. Rampant cronyism, favoratism, nepotism and corruption.

In dictatorships, people are not appointed on merit. Dictatorial
regimes are ruled by groups of known collaborators who appoint each
other into positions of importance and who use their financial clout
and the authority of their position to protect each other from
exposure, scrutiny and accountability. The resulting elite feeds on
power and seeks to enrich itself like a predator, at the expense of the
people of the country.

14. Fraud in elections.

Typically, elections in dictatorially-ruled nations are a complete
sham. If there is any opposition to start with, voters are manipulated
by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition
candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or to
manipulate political district boundaries. The ruling elite is supported
by the government bureaucracy and by controlled media. Dissidents are
thrown into prison, often just before elections, while those in prison
are prohibited from voting. The judiciary collaborates to manipulate or
control elections. Elections are often called unexpectedly, with little
resources made available to the opposition (if there is any). Fraud and
perversion of democratic principles is as predictible as the outcome of
such elections.

If you have any comments, please post a message in reply!

Sam Carana

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