4.11 – OBEDIENCE to Tyrants due to Fear of Punishment

April 11th, 2012

OBEDIENCE to Tyrants due to Fear of Punishment
(Series 8 of 10)

This is Ethiopian Review Policy Research Center’s series on From Dictatorship to Democracy extracted/quoted from books and articles published by Albert Einstein Institution and similar sources.


Civil disobedience. . . is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.
If people disobey, sabotage and withdraw their support, the Tyrant cannot rule!

“…..The fundamental political question is why do people obey a despotic regime? The answer is that they tend to enslave themselves, to let themselves be governed by tyrants. Freedom from servitude comes not from violent action, but from the refusal to serve. Tyrants fall when the people withdraw their support.”

A strong reason why people obey is fear of punishment. Violation of a law or rule can result in a variety of sanctions, from paying fines, to harassment, to losing one’s job or position, to losing property, to imprisonment or even execution. Once a person has a “criminal record” he/she can then be denied standard citizen benefits such as bank credit, employment opportunities, and government services. The most powerful function of sanctions is often the fear that they produce in others. This fear keeps others obedient.

Examples of sanctions: One week in prison for putting up a poster; losing a job for criticizing the government during a conversation in a restaurant; arrest and interrogation for wearing a T-shirt with a message supporting the political opposition; etc.

It should be remembered that against a dictatorship the objective is not simply to bring down the dictators but to install a democratic system (To Remove and To Replace) and make the rise of a new dictatorship impossible.
To view what Aristotle warned long ago that “. . . tyranny can also change into tyranny. . .” , WATCH THE SHORT UTUBE REPORT BELOW:
Despite ousting the dictator whose regime repressed and tortured citizens for decades, Egyptians are now facing the same treatment from the country’s military that they endured under President Hosni Mubarak.