By Fareed Zakaria
We tend to think of dictators as all-powerful leaders who act with naked cruelty and impunity. Think of Bashar al Assad in Syria. Or, for a celluloid reminder, think of Sacha Baron Cohen as Gen. Admiral Aladeen, a North African despot.
But the film "The Dictator" — and our imagination of dictators — is getting outdated. The new dictator is more evolved and more attuned to how people think.
A new book highlights that trend. It's called "The Dictator's Learning Curve" by William Dobson.
Dictators have gotten smart, Dobson writes, to keep pace with changes in technology. Old-school oppressors like Mao, Pol Pot or Idi Amin could keep their atrocities relatively secret. That's not possible today. If a dictator tried to orchestrate a mass killing and keep it secret, he'd likely fail. It would end up on YouTube.
Uganda's Joseph Kony is now an internet phenomenon. Charles Taylor of Liberia was recently found guilty by the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone. Sudan's President Bashir has been indicted.
So today's cleverest dictators have evolved. They allow a certain amount of dissent, as an escape valve.
Consider China. There's a new study out this week by three political scientists at Harvard. They've devised a way to analyze millions of social media posts in China. What's special is that they claim to do this before the Chinese government gets to censor them - so it provides a unique insight not just into what the Chinese people think, but also what the government deems necessary to censor.
What do they find? Contrary to what you'd think, it turns out criticisms of the state are not more likely to get censored. Even vitriolic criticisms are allowed. Instead, the focus is on stopping mass mobilization. Last year Beijing blocked internet searches for Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" to prevent discussions about the Arab Spring. Similarly last week searches for the numbers 4/6 were censored - the numbers represented June 4th, the anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square.
The Harvard study shows that Beijing's leaders are making measured concessions. It is said that some 500 protests take place every day across China. But anything that could lead to something larger or more organized is instantly censored and clamped down on.
Another example - Putin's Russia has usually allowed the print media a great deal of freedom, on the theory that what a few tens of thousands of people read in Moscow and St. Petersburg doesn't matter. But the regime has taken over television news completely, so mass opinion is carefully controlled out of the Kremlin.
We're witnessing a trend in China, Russia, Venezeula, and many other countries - even Myanmar. Gone are the days when dictators could completely ignore the demands of their people.
As citizens become more exposed to events around the world, more connected to each other on the internet and social media, dictators will have to make greater concessions. It's a situation that is far better than how things were 10, 20, or 50 years ago. Regimes like those in Syria and North Korea can act with all-out brutality, but they are outliers - they represent a fading order.
The new model is to allow a controlled space for free commerce, for open education, even for dissent. Perhaps people in these countries can use that space to expand the realm of freedom and liberty.
this guy thinks he is an expert at everything
I just hope the new dictators have a zany fashion sense and oddities to be fascinating. If they're as boring as our US presidents, what's the point?
dictators are everywhere and will continue to be. you kill or oust one and twenty more pop up like gophers. power seekers will continue to seek power. the only reason WW3 has not happened yet is because not all of them have nukes or decent armies. technology now moves to fast for most backwater countries to keep up with.
Nice to see the kinder, gentler spin on dictatorship provided by Zakaria. Just one more voice advocating an Obama dictatorship, I'm sure.
Mr. Fareed Zakaria, You are over stretch.
Indians will play the key role in American Elections!
Ecuador Government will give permission to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to live in their Country
West Indies will win the T20 match against England on 24nd June 2012!
Sri Lanka will win the 1st Test match against Pakistan!
England will win the third ODI against West Indies on 22nd June 2012
Sri Lanka will win the Test series against Pakistan – 2012!
It's a relief to find soenmoe who can explain things so well
If the person was your feinrd, they would probably be happy to hear from you. It would be a pleasant surprise to reconnect.If they don't reply, it could be the wrong email address or an email address that they no longer use.I use it every day.
I think this is just a rumor, but you may as well try since you are definitely far enugoh along that you don't have anything to worry about. I wouldn't eat more than a serving or so every few hours. Personally, I think walking is more likely to help than anything else
England will win the T20 match against West Indies on 24th June 2012!
Microsoft will introduce Own phone by 2014!
But why would they a these people crave for a dictatorship position?...Rather than enjoy life?. Are they after money? There are easier ways. Why would they feel the need to impose their opinion on others? Is this healthy? Read Eric Fromm (Art of Loving; Fear of Flying), a psychologist who studied sado-masocist tendencies in society. Some people realy do enjoy being led by a dictator.
This dictators grew up in a not so loving environment. In case of China, Mao engineered it's new generation of people will grow up without siblings (one child policy) and force them to work in labor camps. See factories example factories in China for Iphone and Ipad. It's labor dorms have netting. Young chinese jumps to their death. These dictators are psychopath. They feel no guilt and moral responsibility. You see this kind of Psychopath dictators as a CEO in all of China's state controlled companies. These CEO's just doesn't care. When their workers jump to their death, they just install nets all over the building. With no siblings, no opportunity to develop unique bondage that only a sibling can offer.
The news in the USA is so biased often blatantly misleading, that I wonder how or why anyone would believe that Americans are not among those who are controlled by dictators. Americans believe what they are told to believe. Sad. Freedom, it is not.
The guy who wrote this really out of tune with reality, from living in the west for so long. The government can easily stop things from showing up on youtube by blocking internet access. They can block cell phone calls by blocking access to the antennas China and Iran has done many times. Dictators are just former military strong men and authoritarian regimes, they also include Monarchies, such as Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait who also have been known to raise the body count when people start to protest en masse.
Most of these dictators and monarchs were put into power and/or financially supported by the West since the break up of the Ottoman Empire in the ME.
It's not just dictators who have adapted, the history of western democratic governments is an adaptation to yearnings for liberty. They give us just enough liberty and no more to keep us happy and to keep us from overthrowing them to keep themselves in power.
There is every reason to believe that, if elected, Romney would impose a corporate dictatorship upon America, and that may well be the current intent of the Republican Party, given the actions of Bush I and Bush II, many of which policies have been extended by President Obama, knowingly or unknowingly.
The founders did not intend for America to become or entertain a dictatorship, and the fact that corporations were not invented at the time, is no reason to conclude that this could be done indirectly for that which could not be done directly.
Holding the American people to an impossible standard – accountable to a corporation, an object – is the equivalent of installing the wizard behind the curtain known as OZ (from the film the Wizard of OZ) to dictate their every action, reaction, and thought. No one needs Corporate morality that the world shall live by or else.
I hardly comment, but i did some searching and wound up here How dictators have evolved
with the times – Global Public Square – CNN.com Blogs.
And I actually do have 2 questions for you if you don't mind. Is it only me or does it appear like some of these responses look like written by brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are posting at other online social sites, I'd like
to follow anything new you have to post. Could you list of the complete urls of your community pages
like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin
I have been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of space . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website. Reading this info So i am happy to show that I've a very excellent uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed. I such a lot no doubt will make sure to don?t overlook this web site and provides it a glance regularly.
I don't get why that always hneppas but it's true for me as well Heck, I work hard and I get strife. I phone it in and I get an A. Go figure. Pretty much the story of my life.
Wow, very sorry for this person, and her faimliy, losing her job in this very difficult economy. Is this legal if she wasn't tweeting at work? Maybe ALCU involvement? Also tweeting employer would be beneficial so we could let them know what we think of their decision to fire someone exercising their freedoms. Do we let them get away with this?
not to use it during pgrneancy. I tried many things to get my baby to come and she wouldn't. She was a day overdue. I am not sure if anything will actually work, but I do know some things you can try.Red raspberry tea. Drink 1 quart a dayBlue CohoshSquawvine also called partridgeberryDo not try castor oil. My sister tried this and all it did was give her bad diarrhea.Try walking and squatting, but don't wear yourself out. You are going to need lots of energy for labor.Good luck!
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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Check out all of Fareed's Washington Post columns here:
Obama as a foreign policy president?
Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.
Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
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