- Single-party rule. We tend to identify â€œdictatorsâ€ as individuals, but historically dictators have always been the spear-tips for powerful organizations.
- Justification of abuses. Dictatorships must always have an â€œenemy,â€ so that they can assert their actions, no matter how apparently unfair, unethical, or immoral, serve some â€œhigher purposeâ€ for the people, promoting â€œequalityâ€ or â€œstabilityâ€ or â€œfighting forces of repression.â€ The usual tip-off that a government has dictatorial tendencies is a noticeable increase in the very problems the government says extreme measures are needed to combat.
- Suppression of opposition. There are degrees of suppression, of course; stronger dictatorships can take more overt (and sometimes violent) steps to render political dissent ineffective, less secure dictatorships must resort to subtler means.
- Manipulation of information. The dictatorship relies on control and use of the media to spread the message the government wants its people to hear.
- Subversion of the legal system. A dictatorship cannot allow courts to be independent.
Any of that ringing any bells?
In Noynoy Aquino, this country has chosen a leader who has placed what little administrative authority he does not reserve for himself (and given that it now requires Presidential approval to fix the toilets at the airport, itâ€™s very little) in the
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hands of incompetents chosen not for any technical skill but their level of sycophancy, has made the fundamental justification for his presidency the â€œfight against corruptionâ€ (as personified by his evil predecessor), suppresses opposition in and the freedom of action of two co-equal branches of government through unprecedented (and, incidentally, illegal) control over their finances, operates a large and â€“ their ineptitude notwithstanding â€“ intensely active propaganda department, and openly defies rulings of the highest court in the land.
The uproar over the uncharged and unconvicted former President Arroyoâ€™s being prevented from leaving the country for medical treatment has finally shaken at least a part of this country out of its torpor to realize there is something very undemocratic and very wrong with the way High Chancellor Sutler President Aquino is discharging his office. But the woeful â€œState of the Nationâ€ described by former Senator Ernesto M. Maceda last week on the occasion of Pee-noyâ€™s 500th day in office didnâ€™t just happen overnight. Everyone should have seen what was coming when Aquino coyly suggested â€“ almost before his motherâ€™s corpse had a chance to cool off â€“ that his presidency would be ordained by God.
Of course, a country where the opinion of a beauty queen on a subject other than fake boobs and spray tan is actually considered a serious debate topic probably shouldnâ€™t be surprised to find itself in a serious social and political predicament. And how it might sort itself out of this mess without causing itself further misery and embarrassment is anyoneâ€™s guess.