Tag Archives: Autocracy

The rise of personalist rule

By Torrey Taussig – Over the last decade, authoritarians have pushed back against the world’s prevailing democratic order. For the 11th year in a row, Freedom House has announced an overall drop in freedom worldwide.

Most countries today (55 percent) are considered not free or partly free according to the civil liberties and political rights citizens enjoy. At the same time, highly personalized regimes are taking control of autocratic and even democratic political systems.

There are four primary reasons that personalist systems can lead to more aggressive foreign policies.

First, the inherent characteristics of the kinds of individuals who become personalist rulers—ambitious, cut-throat and divisive—drive them to pursue more adventurist international goals than leaders of other kinds of regimes.

Second, personalist leaders perceive lower costs of fighting than leaders of democracies or more constrained autocratic systems because they have fewer normative aversions to force, do not internalize the costs of fighting, and view force as more effective than other tools of statecraft.

Third, personalist leaders do not fear defeat to the extent that other leaders do because of the lack of strong institutions able to punish the leader for his mistakes.

Fourth, subordinates to personalist leaders are typically unwilling to challenge a leader’s personal biases, leading to profound “groupthink” and overestimation of the likelihood of victory. more> https://goo.gl/D32rxA

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How to Build an Autocracy

By David Frum – No society, not even one as rich and fortunate as the United States has been, is guaranteed a successful future. When early Americans wrote things like “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” they did not do so to provide bromides for future bumper stickers. They lived in a world in which authoritarian rule was the norm, in which rulers habitually claimed the powers and assets of the state as their own personal property.

The exercise of political power is different today than it was then—but perhaps not so different as we might imagine. Larry Diamond, a sociologist at Stanford, has described the past decade as a period of “democratic recession.” Worldwide, the number of democratic states has diminished. Within many of the remaining democracies, the quality of governance has deteriorated.

Yet the American system is also perforated by vulnerabilities no less dangerous for being so familiar. Supreme among those vulnerabilities is reliance on the personal qualities of the man or woman who wields the awesome powers of the presidency.

A British prime minister can lose power in minutes if he or she forfeits the confidence of the majority in Parliament. The president of the United States, on the other hand, is restrained first and foremost by his own ethics and public spirit.

What happens if somebody comes to the high office lacking those qualities? more> https://goo.gl/IjMqiK