Friday, August 04, 2006

The Death of Dictators

A very good brief on how dictatorships work and how dictators die:

...the events to date in Cuba strongly suggest that a fierce internal struggle is now going on and that Raul's absence from the airwaves is ample evidence that he is definitely not in control and cannot muster even a temporary consensus.

Politics in dictatorships rely heavily on the nuances of public appearances to demonstrate who has power and who doesn't, information that is crucial to provide direction for those who are part of the ruling system but not part of the inner circles of power. Dictatorships require a public face of unchallengeable unity and cannot withstand public displays of infighting. For that reason, the #1 priority for any would-be successor are fawning public appearances and blanket media coverage focused on him in order to demonstrate to all that he has emerged as the unchallenged center of power. It is all orchestrated, and none of it is "news." If others share the stage, this means that the struggle is continuing but is stalemated and a public face of collective unity is necessary to prevent the regime from collapsing for lack of someone in control. But eventually there must be a Number 1.

The author goes on to explain that why he or she thinks Raul Castro is having a heck of a time holding on to power based on the fact that he has made NO public appearances.

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