Populist-Charismatic Dictators The Cases of Term Paper

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Ho Chi Minh was for a long time of the most controversial dictators of the world. In this sense, "for westerners Ho Chi Minh has been a figure of some mystery for many years. His death on September 3, 1969 did not end the fascination he holds for people who have found his life enigmatic and his political position unclear." Therefore, it is fair to say that to this day, there are people who more or less worship him and the system he created as a result of his desire for power and supremacy. The power of Ho Chi Minh was his response to the Western world. As he was incarcerated Ho Chi Minh defied the Western world by defending himself and supporting the idea of him being a nationalist. As stated before, the idea of the adherence to a country has always been a successful one because people will always tend to be more responsive in issues such as the national identity or the way in which the colonial powers treated Vietnam in this case.

Ho Chi Minh did not receive his status of being worshiped on a similar basis as the other two examples. Stalin developed his ideas economically, Mao from a nationalistic point-of-view, and Ho from a war line perspective. Thus, he played a significant role in the war in Vietnam both for the negotiation powers he exercised to the fullest, as well as internally where he managed to rally the support of an entire population against what it was considered at the time the Western threat. Through this approach he managed to recreate the sense of unity the people needed as well as their dictator.

One of the most important periods of the rule of dictator is according to Hertzler "the entrenchment." In this sense, "during this period a favorable public opinion is gradually built up by propaganda of all kinds and by education. It is essentially a process of systematic indoctrination." Therefore, it is clear that the dictator cannot hold no to his power without the proper means of the state he created. More precisely, the dictator uses the mechanisms of the state in order to build a strong apparatus not only in the institutional level but also at the level of the common mentality. The dictator is powerless without the support of the people and this popular power cannot be gained but through an indirect control of the masses and of their environment. As Karl Marx pointed out "the real triumph of dictatorship is not to have silenced its foes, but to make them sing its praises." Thus, any dictator must rely on a set of mechanisms that would allow him to get control of the popular psychology.

Stalin was in this sense one of the most important examples. The cult of personality manifested itself at different levels but in Stalin's case it reached the peak. Thus, his attempts to win over popular support led him to speeches in favor of the collectivization process which constantly included the defiance of the West. More precisely, "in the midst of the collectivization drive, (...) Stalin's view of the significance of this drive in its resolution: 'If the confiscation of the land from the landowners was the first step of the October Revolution in the countryside, the changeover to collective farms is the second and, moreover, decisive step, which marks a most important stage in building the foundation of a socialist society in the U.S.S.R." As opposed to the capitalist regimes where private property was the main tool for the economy.

Another aspect which is important for the way in which dictators are born and worshiped is the modesty they tend to show regarding their own person. Stalin provided evidence in this sense when he once concluded that "you speak of devotion to me. Perhaps that phrase slipped out accidentally. Perhaps. but, if it isn't an accidental phrase, I'd advise you to thrust aside the 'principle' of devotion to persons. It isn't the Bolshevik way. Have devotion to the working class, its party, its state." However, this type of modesty was yet another means through which the people was given the impression that they are in the center of the socialist and the dictator's mind.

Mao's rise to dictatorship was rather fast. However, from the three, he had one of the strongest influences in his country. This was largely due to the multi-facet approach he offered the idea of holding on to power. As a proof, at the moment China is still a communist country. One of the most important tools of his power was the Red Book which included the guidelines for the way in which people should and must behave in order to reach the ideal society. The society however was captured by Mao's personality to such an extent that they allowed themselves to be caught in the communist propaganda. Even more, the fact that Mao represented the people and that he was often portrayed as a human being in the sense of enjoying different artistic moments and acting in a common way was crucial for the identification of the people with him.

Finally, the cult of personality of Ho Chi Minh revolved on the ideas he constantly expressed in front of his people. Given the fact that his approach on power had been one of military profile, it was only normal that his cult of personality be focused on direct contact with the people. Thus, his speeches represented a militant rhetoric related to the French occupation of Indochina. Thus, his personality was worshiped as the liberator of the country from foreign conquest. He was seen as the force which fought for the independence of their country and a man who had brought the salvation. This perspective is thus the dominant part of his cult, taking into account the fact that "Ho's rhetorical prowess for the audiences that comprised the independence movement in French colonial Indochina was clearly the sin qua non-of his career."

Overall it can be concluded by stating that indeed dictators come to power as a result of favorable political environments and a personal charisma and history. However, they maintain their power through a complex mechanism of propaganda and emotional and psychological influences of the masses.

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