One fascinating thing about Kleptocracies is how people sit and accept their suffering from the autocrats who rule them. Throughout history from empires of long ago to modern so called democracies the masses have sat and watched as the elite plunder while they starve. Which begs the question why should the brunt of the population tolerate such injustices? One contributing factor is fear plays a big role in subjecting the proletariat. Opposition under autocracies are quenched in the most gruesome of manners, the use of death squads is a common tactic used by authoritarian regimes to subjugate the proletariat. It is no wonder the masses think twice before even mumbling about their injustices. Another contributing factor that dwarfs fear is the reluctance by the masses to step up; it is a fact that there are very few leaders amongst a people. In most cases the spark for a revolution is a defiant leader. Throughout history revolutions of unimaginable proportions have been started by individuals. Who can forget the impact that Fidel Castro had on the Cuban revolution, Nelson Mandela in the fight against apartheid and more reluctantly Mohammed Bouazizi who started the Arab spring.
The masses expect an individual to be the spark that starts a ginormous all-consuming fire; this creates a laxity in the minds of many as they await their ‘Moses’ to deliver them to liberty. Leaders are a rare breed in a normal society and the fact that autocrats as proven are in most cases brilliant leaders corrupted by power, autocrats are brilliant at spotting potential leaders. Autocrats play their cards by identifying then manipulating potential threats to their thrones this is to avoid future liabilities in the form of a revolution. Wealth is a tool that is used to deceive potential opposition who in most cases are young aspirants. Autocrats have mastered another trick involves playing the proletariat against the proletariat, Karl Marx in the ‘Communist Manifesto’ states how the proletariat is easily deceived by a promise of joining the elite ranks. Revolutions in history are commonly characterized by a ‘Third Force’. This usually involves the use of individuals who are part of the oppressed party but deceived in most cases by wealth. The best example was in the anti-apartheid revolution where members of the Inkatha party were pitted against their African brothers. Man has implemented the use of the third force from conflicts of ancient times, the use of mercenaries who in most cases are poor and oppressed is no new thing but rather has been in existence from the Neolithic period.
One thing about humans is our absolute ignorance in most political scenarios, how many revolutions do we need to learn? Can it be stated that autocrats as time goes by are getting craftier? In my studies of dictators ranging from the likes of Adolf Hitler of Germany, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot of Cambodia to the Mobutu’s of Africa a stunning similarity arose throughout their reign. I noted that the opposition leaders who stepped up in most scenarios did it for selfish reasons. Take the German general Ludwig Beck who opposed Hitler the mass murderer responsible for the Holocaust, the sole reason the General opposed was differences with the Fuhrer on the military expansion campaign (Reynolds, 1976). Imagine if you were in Germany in 1944 and you were against the Nazi ideology and you heard that Ludwig had defected would you join his ranks? I wouldn’t join him for sure, such a cause would be to fight for Ludwig rather than against the disastrous ideology. This is the dilemma the proletariat faces in many Kleptocracies, opposition that is based on a wrong cause therefore creating a suspicion that once they are propagated to power they will themselves turn to the beast that is an autocrat.
I have always wondered how the oppressed can take the suffering created by a government that is meant to be for the people and by the people. Suffering in this case manifests itself as economic collapse, extortionist by the state and worst of all death in the form of political assassination. Suffering in itself should be a catalyst that orients people towards toppling an authoritarian regime without even the guidance of any leader. Ignorance on the part of the proletariat makes him turn a blind eye on the power that he holds. This power is best brought out in the concept of ‘ People’s War’ by Mao Zedong which has been adopted in many military strategies such as Vietcong and the ANC Struggles. (Tse-tung, 937). The people command absolute power but the autocrat is no mere mortal but rather he is an expert at limiting this power by effectively using divide and rule tactics such as division based on tribe or party politics to limit the power of the proletariat. I will conclude with a poem:
I appeal to the masses to know your power,
The man up top is corrupt by power,
The big man has snatched your power,
Ooh proletariat wake up from your slumber and claim your power!
You suffer while they plunder your wealth,
Do you not know he is meant to be the servant and you the master,
You are like a child easily deceived and afraid,
Ooh proletariat when will you learn?
Reynolds, N. (1976). Treason Was No Crime.
Tse-tung, M. (937). On Guerilla Warfare.