Monday, December 21, 2009
There are a few taboos that tyrants cross that lead to their downfall. The Histories are fairly straightforward about this. One way a tyrant gets removed is by overstepping his external bounds and picking a fight with someone willing to crush him. That is what happened to Pol Pot in Cambodia but it is probably the most likely way that an oppressive regime can come to grief. It is far rarer for an entrenched dictatorship to collapse in the face of an internal revolt. The Soviet Union imploded, to an extent until the KGB reconstituted, under economic pressure. Marcos was swept from power by domestic forces. Tyrants can usually survive a reputation for incompetence and brutality. In fact when a regime begins to reform it is at the greatest risk. Louis XVI and Nicholas II were both more mild mannered than their ancestors. The only forms of corruption that are seen as justifying rebellion in most traditions is sexual license. The tyrant or his sons start assaulting the wives, daughters and sons of the gentry and they get removed. That is what happened in Athens to Peisistratus' son.
So the sad fact is that running a community into the ground is a successful strategy for a politician, with two restrictions. Don't so weaken the place or insult bigger powers that you get invaded. Don't put your fingers on the personal, as opposed to financial, goods of the gentry. Obama has offended most foreign powers. His gratuitous confrontation with China will be paid for. So far he and his followers have not imposed to deeply on his victims sense of personal family honor. The Safe Schools Czar fiasco matters. Increasing pressure on education and abortion may make some feel that line is being crossed.