When kings used to rule over countries, anything they ordered was law. It didn’t matter who the order helped – in many cases only the king or noble class benefitted – or who it hurt.
Then our ideas on governance evolved. Countries became more democratic. Some countries, at least.
But there have always been those few leaders who are just simply tyrants, who believe they know what’s best for an entire population. It must make some people wonder how someone could have that big of an ego. Nonetheless the big shots with those egos still reach the highest levels of government.
Dictatorships still exist around the world. In the last 100 years there have been too many, but Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, both of whom killed millions of people, were two of the nastiest that come to mind. And the recent praise for Fidel Castro by the mainstream media upon his death a few weeks ago was astonishing, considering he is known to have killed tens of thousands of his own people.
Dictators do get to know the population of their countries, but by scaring their citizens into obedience. And if you disagree with the word of the ruler, you die or spend the rest of your life in a labor camp. Yes, this is tyrannical and shocking to Americans, who at one time burned an effigy of King George III on the Liberty Tree. But as a form of governance, this is called totalitarianism, when a government controls the lives of its citizens.
Totalitarian leaders try to manipulate the public in many ways. Propaganda, fear and terror, and censorship are some of the tools that have been used in the past. And arguably, we are seeing some of these attempted today in the US.
Adolf Hitler spread propaganda by telling the German people that the Jews were to blame for all of their economic woes after World War I. This we know is not true. The Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression were responsible for Germany’s economic problems. Today there are similar forms of propaganda. In our own country, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives told us that, “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it,’’ when referring to the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare). In reality, the content of any law is supposed to be available for the public to review before it’s passed. As gullible as we are, the law passed and people are forced to sign up for overpriced health care. If not, you’ll be taxed (fined).
Something new in the propaganda dissemination industry is that we have hosts of college professors who have denounced our founders as a bunch of racist oppressors. True many of the founding fathers were slaveholders, but many of these men were the first group of leaders to denounce slavery as well. This is Cultural Marxism, as these professors try to delegitimize our existence as a country or the people who created the greatest form of democracy on this planet. A problem here is that our founders were all dead by the time any form of Marxism – cultural or economic – ever existed. And one of the first rules of judging history is that you don’t judge one era with the ideas and beliefs of the era you are living in.
Fear and terror are other tools used to control a population. In Russia, the Great Purge killed over eight million people in the 1930s. In China, 45 million were killed during the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s and 60s. We haven’t seen anything like that here in the United States yet, but rather than taking lives, our government has a tendency to kill the reputations of dissenters. This can go under a heading of fear or propaganda, but how often has disagreement with government policy led people to be branded as racist, homophobic, or xenophobic? Disagreement is supposed to be celebrated as freedom of expression, not hushed into silence.
How many business owners have been chastised in the media for not wanting to provide service to gay weddings? Instead of killing people, this type of behavior kills livelihoods.
As long as the government story line is kept intact and everyone accepts it, then we can move along like good little sheep. But there are dissenters on every government policy, and according to government, they must be silenced. Censorship has an on-again-off-again history in the US. It started with the Sedition Act in 1798 when President Adams wanted to keep criticism of his policies at a minimum. Abraham Lincoln jailed Northern Democrats who criticized the Civil War. Now, we have alternative news sites being called “fake news’’ for reporting the whole story or a different perspective that the mainstream propaganda machine either doesn’t want you to hear or doesn’t report.
Totalitarian forms of government are very much alive around the world today. And if we’re not careful, we may see one established in the US.