America & Common Characteristics of Authoritarian Regimes

America and the Common Characteristics of Authoritarian Regimes

By: Rajan Laad

History has shown us that there is a great deal of commonality among dictatorial regimes across the world. So here they are, in no particular order of importance. Perhaps some features may seem familiar.

Rigged Elections

Dictatorial regimes are aware that the world looks upon them with consternation due to their repression of the citizenry. Hence, they stage periodic elections where the result is predecided. The leader anointed by the establishment always wins with an unprecedented majority.

To achieve this landslide victory, ballot boxes are stuffed, counting is rigged, electronic voting machines are tampered with, opposition candidates are baselessly smeared, voting rules manipulated to facilitate easy rigging, and neutral observers are banned.

In North Korea, voting is mandatory, but you receive a ballot paper with just one name on it. There’s nothing to fill in, no boxes to tick. You put the paper into the ballot box.

Media Control

In authoritarian countries, the media is the propaganda wing of the regime. Every syllable that appears is approved by the regime. There may be a variety of news outlets, but all of them follow the groupthink assiduously. Violators are dismissed from the mainstream. The regime always works toward hounding and dismantling adversarial media.

When PM Indira Gandhi suspended democracy in India from 1971 to 1977, restricting media freedoms was one of her first actions.

Persecution of Dissidents

The regime knows that a brave new idea works like a flame that sets fire to an entire forest. Hence, they are perpetually on the lookout for the slightest hint of dissent. The goal is to punish dissenters before they can cause damage. It also serves as a deterrent for aspiring dissenters.

In East Germany under the communist regime, it was common for the Stasi secret police to detain dissenters without a warrant. At times the dissenter is sent to ‘camps’ or even perished in prison.

Literature and Entertainment Devolve Into Propaganda and Trash

The regime knows that people need to be distracted from their nefarious doings.

Thus, they serve entertainment that dumbs down the population. The entertainment and literary wing are also a valuable propaganda wing that generates content to ridicule dissenters and glorify the regime.

Most Nazi propaganda targeted their Jewish citizenry and dissenters while they glorified Hitler as the chosen one.

Education Becomes Brainwashing

The best way to crush a rebellion is to target potential rebels when they are young. Like entertainment, the syllabus is tailored to glorify the regime and denigrate opponents. When the young who consume this syllabus grow up, they become blind and staunch proponents.

In China, the syllabus consistently extolls the achievements of the Chinese Communist Party.

An Abundance of Hoaxes

The regimes know that the people need to be kept under control. They know that nothing controls the mind better than fear. Hence, they propagate hoaxes and even go to the extent of staging hoaxes. The Nazis set the Reichstag on fire and blamed it on their opponents, using the fire to suspend civil liberties.


The regime always fears popular uprising and hence keeps using lockdowns and curfews to restrict movement. Prolonged lockdowns have a deleterious effect on one’s psyche. The regimes knowns that a crushed spirit seldom rebels

During the 90s, states of emergency was imposed in certain areas of the USSR, there were curfews and bans on public gatherings and violators were punished.

Targeting of Political Opponents

The regime always fears populist or grassroots movements and focuses on targeting and destroying the leaders of the moment.

In Pakistan, few ‘elected leaders’ ever complete their tenure in office. These ‘leaders’ are either executed or jailed or ‘exiled’ after Pakistan’s deep state stages a coup. Occasionally, army generals who led coups themselves become victims of a coup led by other factions of the deep state.

A Dummy Opposition

In order to demonstrate their ‘commitment to democracy’ the regime always ensures the existence of an opposition party. This party is like lapdogs that crawl when they are asked to bend and prostrate when asked to crawl. They may say the right thing and pretend to be critics, but when the time comes they side with the regime.

There are eight minor political parties in China but they operate under the CCP’s united-front system.

Targeting of Religious Institutions

Marx famously said that religion is the opium of the masses. The regimes know that faith in a supreme being can unite people against them without fear. Religion also provides moral guidance to citizens which once again could lead them to become dissenters.

Throughout the history of the Soviet Union (1917–1991), there were periods when Soviet authorities suppressed and persecuted various forms of Christianity to different extents depending on State interests.

Rubber Stamp Leader

Voltaire famously said about the former state of Prussia that “while most states have an army, the Prussian Army has a state.” In current times it is the deep state that controls the ‘leader’ who is either mentally unfit or willingly servile or both.

During his final years, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev suffered from dementia, resulting in his mumbling speech and bad memory. The strings were pulled by the regime.

A Permanent Underclass

The regime knows that financial independence leads to an independent mind which soon begins to rebel. Hence, they ensure that the masses are always hungry and needy. This permanent underclass survives on government subsidies and is perpetually grateful. Members of the regime are insulated from these hardships.

Castro’s disastrous economic policies in Cuba led to high inflation, shortages, and high taxes.

The Omnipresent State

The regime wants to ensure that it is present and can monitor every aspect of the citizenry. It could be a dietary restriction, that sounds innocuous. It could be the monitoring of communications or financial transactions citing a terror threat. This often leads to self-censorship on the part of citizens.

The regimes of Iran, Singapore, China, Singapore, the UAE, Vietnam, and Yemen have invasive surveillance policies.

Mandates and Diktats

The citizen is often subjected to diktats that they have no option but to comply with. This could be activities such as demonstrating loyalty to the regime or even medical procedures.

Hitler created the first German compulsory sterilization law six months after he became chancellor.

Now for the present.

If you ask any American what they value most in the U.S., their monosyllabic reply usually is ‘freedom.’

This is the freedom to live as one pleases without being monitored or judged. It is the freedom to express oneself without fear of retaliation. It is the freedom to earn a living in a merit-based system.

It is therefore nothing short of shocking to notice that almost every feature implemented by dictatorial regimes now exists in the U.S.

We usually think of authoritarian regimes rising after a bloody military coup.

The powers that be in the U.S. know that they cannot do anything so blatant. Hence the changes have been subtle and gradual over the past few decades.

The true colors were completely revealed on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, when the electoral democracy in the U.S. really worked as the people voted for Donald J Trump, a man whom the establishment tried their level best to destroy.

The retaliation for this act of bravery on the part of the citizenry that began from that very day continues presently.

It is now up to the citizens to decide what kind of country they want to live in.


This article (America and the Common Characteristics of Authoritarian Regimes) is republished here on TLB under “Fair Use” (see the TLB disclaimer below) with attribution to the articles author Rajan Laad, and

TLB recommends that you visit the American Thinker for more great articles and info.

Read more great articles by Rajan Laad

Image Credit: Graphic in Featured Image (top) – by shahbazshah91 from Pixabay


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