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Secrets of Successful Dictators - Holding Onto Power

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A despot may seize power by persuading or bribing the hierarchy of the military force. Maintaining your power gained by doing this needs a particular condition. The successful dictator must maintain the majority blind to his real intentions, excluding just about his group of friends.

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'Treat Them Like Mushrooms'

A population saved in the dark and fed on garbage is simpler to regulate than a single that's awake, fit and accurately informed.

 To harness the population as unconscious accomplices to an authoritarian government is dependent upon reserving knowledge for the trusted collaborators from the leader. The trick extends back with a time before human records begin. At some point, the group elite moved from being gatherers of food to being hunters of meat.

Successful hunters could not help but share knowledge gained by experience.

 Even if a person wanted to keep secrets from his fellow hunters, they could follow him towards the best hunting grounds and replica his tracking methods or tool-making techniques. Knowledge of these skills would be passed from father to son. The hunters excluded one group: the gatherers. Women, forbidden to produce or use weapons, were rendered politically ineffectual.
 Art, created for purposes we can only guess at, was developed by specialists who have been supported by the gang but reserved their set of skills privately. In later times, reading and writing were skills available to a minority of privileged people.

When a inhabitants are held in general ignorance, specialist groups hold power.

 Bureaucrats keep secrets for the hierarchy of church or state, much as the mandarins served the emperors of ancient China or the Inquisition served rulers from the Vatican. Scholarship, like professional skill, was reserved for men near the top of society's ladder. Science would be a private quest for rare, brave men with inquiring minds. To openly propose a brand new theory, according to scientific method or evidence, brought dire penalties of imprisonment, torture or death.

It couldn't last. Plus it didn't last.

 In the 15th century, a goldsmith named Gutenberg developed the printing press. His invention made possible the dissemination with the Bible with a readership not in the monasteries. Translation with the stories into languages in keeping use sparked a need for knowledge among the wider population.

Today, basic education for each child, female or male, is available by law in developed nations. University level education is economic reach of most Westerners attempting to study for any field with the sciences and humanities. Free public libraries and the world-wide Internet supply the curious with all the current information accumulated by humanity to date.

Last updated 255 days ago by Top5n