Dictators and Dictatorships

A dictator is a kind of autocratic—or despotic—ruler, that is, someone who wields power with little or no accountability and therefore is not much limited by formal or informal restrictions. Unlike absolute monarchs, whose authority is based on heritage and religion, dictators and tyrants—typically males—are usually upstarts; their position is typically unsteady and dubious, driving them to rely on menace and violence as their last resort. All of these traits together contribute to surveillance being an essential component of dictatorships. If monitoring people is necessary, to some extent, for any kind of government, it is even more so when power is extremely centralized, censorship hinders conventional feedback, and the position of the de facto sovereign is relatively insecure. Paradoxically, notwithstanding their claims to be the ...

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