Dictators Suppressing the Press and Opponents Often Backfires

Why Don’t Dictators See that Suppressing the Press or Opponents Only Leads to Vastly More Negative Publicity?

Why is it that the killing of one of Putin’s political opponents outside the Kremlin wasn’t forseen as elevating an unknown opponent to eternal questions?  Why didn’t Putin foresee that taking over the investigation would lead to endless questions about why isn’t it solved?  Why were the poisonings of Putin’s long past opponents in foreign countries not foreseen as events that would dominate the news for weeks?  

Unfortunately, my theory was that the publicity was part of the purpose of the event to warn others to not oppose Putin, or to think that they could freely walk away from it.  The methods chosen involved long periods of suffering to drive the case home.  The other related possibility is that they are as sensitive to any criticism as we see daily in Donald Trump, and that revenge is a chronic compulsion of their personality.

All dictators seem to have this compulsion.  Kim Jong Un and his predecessors in North Korea, Erdogan in Turkey, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, Xi-Jinping of China, now a lifetime dictator, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and now Crown Prince MBS or Muhammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.  While I learned that half of Saudi citizens access the internet, I only just learned that it is heavily censored.

Trump is apparently following Lincoln’s warning by fooling some of the people all of the time.  This should be the Fox News logo.  Most Republicans now believe that the other networks and Newspapers and sources are indeed “fake news”.  If somebody publishes a book or sends a letter, or even makes a minor comment which would pass the news in 10 seconds, or be read by only a few in this vast news source country, Trump extends the attention span for a week or longer by getting dragged into it.  

Trump’s advisors must warn him about this hourly, but it can’t stop him.  I won’t even try to document this, since we all remember the cases of most interest to ourselves.  I guess you can start with any of the 6,000 lies.  But there are also the daily “you just can’t make this stuff up” situations and tweets.  Modern TV technology allows embarrassing lies to be easily reshown over and over.

While Trump’s crude attempts at suppression are ineffective, but not laughable (enemy of the people and other inciting comments about the press), the suppression of the press and opponents under dictatorships are vastly effective.  People cannot even talk to others about political opinions. 

As a Trump opponent, I should like this TV and Press overreaction, but it is actually vastly overdone, and allows Trump to get away with the daily dismantling of our clean energy policies and daily erosion of our environmental protections.  Encouraging clean energy and environmental protection are of course the goals of this blog.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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