Authoritarianism: Something no one in the general public wants and yet, somehow, we always seem to be slipping towards a more and more authoritarian world as the time goes by.
Is authoritarianism the property of a particular political party? Can we really say that one person, one party or one ideology is the sole owner of authoritarianism and the other one isn’t?
These are some lies we tell ourselves to feel better about who we are or who we support but is it the truth?
As a person who firmly believes in the libertarian ideals, I want to talk about the downward spiral of totalitarianism and how it functions.
Now imagine there is a hypothetical free land where there is no two-party system but there can be as many parties as people want without limits. The land, lets call it, “Gooseland” is a huge country filled with Geese of all Goose colours, Goose classes, Goose creeds, Goose sexes and Goose religions.
The land is a federal, liberal democracy but no matter how liberal Gooseland gets, it always needs a government in power to give directions to the policies of Gooseland and direct its military, foreign policy and basics. The National Goose Party (NGP), which has been in power for a very long time is slowly losing its grips on power. The Gooseland Geese Group (GGG) is slowly taking up more and more seats in the parliament and should soon reach a simple majority which allows it to pass an legislation it wants.
Over the course of a few months, the GGG takes the majority control of the parliament to the point that it can now change the basic Gooseland Constitution without any checks or balances. The GGG is a very popular group of geese that has very passionate ground support who are willing to defend anything that is done by the GGG and their leader. These people feel they have been wronged by the NGP and their demands ignored. Now that they are in power, the whole GGG, from the leadership to its grassroots workers wants to teach a lesson to the NGP and its supporters. The geese in this hypothetical land do not see politics as a matter of national development but as a sports competition. They are willing to do whatever it takes to make their side win. They don’t see the opponents as fellow countrygeese but as enemies of goose existence.
In this fervour of support, the GGG brings in a legislation which allows the government to designate anyone they want as an enemy of Gooseland without any trial or evidence.
“We don’t want to take this step but in order to ensure the safety and prosperity of my fellow geese, I am forced to make this decision. I am helpless. I don’t like passing this law but what other option do I have when we have so many enemies within our own land.” Said the leader of the GGG as it passed the legislation through the appropriate means.
There were some of those who opposed the new law.
“This is draconian” they would say. “Even the Foxes who governed us before didn’t pass laws like this.”
These geese had had a history of being loosely associated with the NGP and this their objections were dismissed as the rantings of a losing side. Simple to ignore.
Slowly, over the course of a few years, as the law slowly became a part of normal life, some low level geese started getting picked up and jailed. The supporters of GGG were delighted. The purge of the enemies of the Geese was finally happening.
“Put them all in jail!!” they would say, rejoicing at the clear loss of their political opponents. Prospering of the Gooseland didn’t matter because they were winning at the sport and that was all that mattered.
All was hunky dory as the GGG couldn’t stop winning the elections until one day, tragedy struck. Out of nowhere, the NGP got a majority in the parliament with a coalition with the former allies of GGG. Almost overnight, NGP was back in control!
As soon as the NGP came to power, they amended the law which had been passed by the GGG. The new allowed them to execute anyone they deemed to be an enemy of the nation at will. No trial required.
“It is clear that our great country has been infested with many geese who would rather live with the foxes. Why must be waste our resources on giving these traitors a fair trial when we can execute them straight away?!” the new leader of the NGP said.
And thus it began.
The purge of the GGG grassroots workers was brutal and quick. They couldn’t oppose anything. After all, they were the ones who supported the original law with large bread parties and distribution of goose sweets. The NGP had simply amended this law.
And that is how ‘authoritarianism’ takes over a country. It doesn’t happen with one swift move which takes away all the rights that the public have. It starts slowly and with one party but then the new government comes in and instead of making things the way they were, they instead take it further down and push back at the people who had previously rejected them. As if punishing the very people who brought them to power.
It is the dream of every government that has ever existed to be able to control everything that you do in life, what you see, what you read, what you hear, what you like, who you like, who you don’t like and everything else.
Modern China, with its own social credit system, its own tracking facilities and its own register is the secret wet dream of every leader. And why wouldn’t it be? People who have led a group project in the past know how difficult it is to get just seven people to work together. Getting a country of hundreds of millions is going to be even tougher but it would be slightly easier if the leader could control large aspects of your life. It would make you more submissive and make you more likely to comply with their demands.
The history of the world is not a story of just many political parties fighting each other for power. It can also be seen as a struggle between the people and their leaders between who controls who. Whether it is the French revolution of 1789 or the Indian independence movement, it is always a question of who gets to make the decisions in your life.
A population which sees politics as a matter of sport, a struggle between two political parties is bound to be controlled by authoritarians because while the general people spend their time fighting each other, the people in position of power manoeuvre to take more and more power away from you, for ‘your own good’ of course.
The intention of this article isn’t to make you inherently mistrusting of The State but to treat it with a general sense of scepticism. Politics is not a matter of sports where the victory of one ideology could be seen as the victory of the whole nation. If that was so, that is, if one ideology was the answer to every ill that plagues humanity, then we wouldn’t really have any problems in the modern world. The liberties that we have today, the rights that we have, are very fragile. The purpose of a constitution is to remind The State about what it can and cannot do and if we, as a public, voluntarily surrender these freedoms and rights, then maybe we deserve to be ruled by authoritarians.
History has always shown that it is unwise to identify so much with a political party or an ideology that you forget who you are and what you believe in. These parties are here to serve us, not the other way around. Don’t make the mistake of falling for this manufactured dichotomy of ideologies and parties. You always have more options and you can always stop the downward spiral of the country into authoritarianism.
The geese in Gooseland made the mistake of thinking that geese in power are the same without it. We can excuse their mistakes to a lack of understanding of goose nature but we, as humans, are better placed to have that understanding.
Don’t be a goose. It could be harmful for health and a functional democracy.