A Brief History
On October 6, 1976, the former dictator (Prime Minister) of Thailand, Thanom Kittikachorn, returned to Thailand after he had fled the country in 1973, which generated mass protests. The ensuing crushing of the protesters in an incident that became known as the Thammasat University Massacre made way for a military coup in which the military seized power from the elected civilian government. It is a widespread belief that countries run by the military are second rate. This article elaborates on this conception and the things dictatorships and military governments commonly do that fuel it.
If your country’s leader wears a military uniform, either all the time or much of the time, other people in other countries might feel you live in a 2-bit country. Government leaders in military uniform are reminiscent of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddaffi. Why did/do these buffoons feel the need to wear a uniform? Did/do they need this outward symbol of authority? To many observers they resemble children playing dress up or celebrating Halloween.
Another clue that you might live in a country that is not on the cutting edge of world leadership is if there are pictures and statues, oftentimes gigantic ones, of your leader on every available bit of free space. This could give others the impression that your leader is a narcissistic goof; you and your fellow countrymen should hurry up and get someone else who is not so insecure.
Having the likeness of a country’s leader on the national currency and postage stamps while that leader is still alive and in charge also indicates some sort of insecurity. It is one thing for a constitutional monarch to have his or her likeness so displayed, but if it is a dictator or perhaps even elected official, the reason is probably due to insecurity, and putting their face on everything is their way of ensuring that no one forgets that they are in charge. Countries need leaders, not self-aggrandizing ego maniacs.
If your country’s leader shoots guns over the heads of a crowd, or into the air to intimidate his people into observance, people in other countries probably think your leader is crazy. This business of shooting into the air for non-ceremonial purposes is dangerous and stupid, something only a moron would do. If your country’s leader is a moron, get rid of him!
Neighbors ending up in prison for speaking up against the government or dictator is also an indication that you might be living in a 2-bit country. The leaders of 2-bit countries generally do not tolerate free speech or anyone who questions their authority. Since most of them did not come to power through election or by legal means, they are constantly suspicious that others might take their place in the same unscrupulous way they got it the first place and immediately eliminate or curtail the activities of any rivals.
Finally, if your country has leaders that abscond with millions or billions of embezzled dollars when they are unseated, you live in a 2-bit country. For that matter, it seems that the more luxurious the home(s) and trappings of the leader and his or her family, the more likely the people are to be downtrodden and oppressed.
Question for students (and subscribers): There are many more signs that are indicative of dictator- or military-run 2-bit countries, and we invite you to offer some of your own observations. Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Svolik, Milan W. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics). Cambridge University Press, 2012.