Monday, December 27, 2010
The Psychology Underlying Evil Dictators.
This is a blog exploring the psychology as to why dictators tend to do all the wrong things while in power. One can even observe evil acts committed from the very individuals who overthrow brutal regimes with the most noble of intentions for the people. This is observed by the tendency for new leaders to commit some of the same atrocities as the former regime that they were so passionate in overthrowing. To understand the dynamic completely, one has to consider that leaders without an understanding of human nature or wisdom of the self will almost always act out evil that they themselves would have condemned when they were not in a position of power. I would like to explore some of the primary reasons why – First of all, a person in power is rewarded with certain pleasures, financial security, prestige and respect. A leader without wisdom can easily become addicted and dependent on the new identity that power gives him. And the very thought of losing that power becomes a source of intense fear and insecurity because the person cannot imagine what they could possibly do with their life that would give them the same egotistical satisfaction, as the pleasure and security that being a powerful leader grants. So where there is an addiction to pleasure and security, there is fear. And without wisdom, a person in power naturally allows the position to inflate their self-image to the point where they are no longer recognizable to the man they were before. So power is self-inflating to the ego, and this is where justification comes in. The leader is not aware of what power has done to their person, and now they are faced with opposition, people who believe the country should be run differently, or people who simply want their position of power for themselves. Now, the leader will not be aware of the fear they now exhibited with the very thought of being tossed out for another person, so they start a series of justifications used to protect their own position. They may think something like “If I do not put an end to this opposition, they will take control the country, and it will lead to violence and disorder, so I must crush this opposition. So the leader may have them killed, or have them thrown into jail without a proper trial, or they may pay off the police or the judge to hold a sort of mock trial to make it look like the opposition had committed some offense worthy of jail time. The main thing is that they come up with all sorts of justifications to rationalize committing some evil action.
Such behavior is the enemy of democracy, as democracy is supposed to allow open debate and voting in new leaders to prevent corruption from taking root. It is also important to note that dictators from a communist ideology are almost always guaranteed to commit atrocities or make fatal errors that negatively affect the population. This is true because communist governments try to control most industry, which doesn’t work because they have a difficult time being an expert in any particular field so nothing runs properly. This creates a desperate environment where protest, revolt and extreme forms of opposition emerge, which puts the leader in a precarious position where he must respond. He usually makes fatal errors because to fix the country, he would have to admit that he was wrong about his political ideology, the form of governance, thus allowing industry to privatize. However, most communist leaders will not do that because in order to do so they must admit fault, and allow corporations to replace some of their power, so in effect they must give up a certain amount of control they have over the nation. Giving up control tends to give men anxiety, especially ones without wisdom. Dictators also tend to commit atrocities more often than elected officials because there is less oversight with a dictator, as there are no checks and balances established to keep their behavior relatively sane. Dictators essentially make the laws, and so the law doesn’t have to apply to them. However, with a democracy, there is usually a long tradition of a more sophisticated legal system that operates independently of the leader, so criminal charges could be filed if the situation warranted it. Moreover, a leader without legal oversight is free to attempt to control the population according to their own personal preferences, and their own subjective system of ethics. And the problem with that is it is very common for an unenlightened person to weld a system of ethics that actually singles out minorities, or attempts to force the populous to conform to strict rules that are often times contradictory, bizarre, or not well thought out. That is why the US constitution was such a revolutionary document. It was written by intellectuals where were trying to minimize the influence of irrational forces such as religious institutions, and the occasional bad seed that came along with violent and savage tendencies.