The Freak Show: Part I – The List
Comment: The Authoritarian Who’s Who List and Why
This Fall (late September early October) Feminine Perspective Magazine will present a series of articles on the growing phenomenon of authoritarianism. This is not speculation, it is reality. Authoritarianism is replacing democracy in many countries.
Did you want that?
The current list of authoritarians around the world must of course include Xi Jinping who is a Chinese politician currently serving as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, President of the People’s Republic of China, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. It would seem that he will rule China for as long as he lives. That’s important because China is an enormous country. China is a great, evolving country with immense and growing influence in the world.
America today is not by strict definition a democracy.
The last presidential election is controverted by a number of factors including foreign interference. That is a morbid blow to democratic process. Voters were potentially disenfranchised. The will of the American voter was not carried out? That is either true in effect and perception or only true in perception. The nature of criminal charges being brought against actors foreign to the United States, may imply “both” have taken place.
Our list of authoritarians includes Donald Trump because by definition he is an authoritarian leader. He has with lies and abuses of the Office of the President quashed critics, and with executive orders de-funded special interest groups that oppose him or his regimes’ policies.
Trump has repeatedly denounced thus disenfranchised women voters.
The United States is high on the list of the most democratic authoritarian states but Trump has managed to pump up emotions and rule his emotionally charged neo-con cult-following with a certain illogical obsessiveness that is worrisome because it both threatens to be and appears to be dangerous.
Trump has threatened that a civilly violent America is laudable if his portion of the Republican Party does not show political gains in the November mid-term elections.
Donald Trump constantly creates imagined enemies of his regime and argues that even if his regime seems to have undesirable traits at times it is a necessary evil because the enemies of the state are formidable and unbearable; so goes the propaganda of the Trump regime.
Bob Woodward’s new book “Fear” describes Defence Secretary General Mattis, and Chief of Staff John Kelly criticizing Trump as incompetent: ‘He’s an idiot’.
Trump has gone as far as including the media as an enemy of the state which is tantamount to suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity.
He has managed to lever the “Executive Order” and Executive Branch Powers well past norms and faster than the American judicial system can cope. In the swipe of a pen last Spring, the USA was confiscating babies from mothers at the borders until months later the court system was able to stop these crimes.
I have been speaking with Dr. Bandy Lee of late and while we disagree on many things (her being Yale and me being Cornell?), I am certain that she and her colleagues have a very valid point when they warn of dangers to the United States as patriotic Americans, let alone being Ivy Leaguers. Trump is not a benevolent authoritarian. That’s not an oxymoron. There have been many. Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia being one of the most notable and if you look at what happened after his rule you may be compelled a believer.
That being said, I share with you Cornell Law Review‘s excellent paper on Authoritarian Constitutionalism. And also suggest the reader think about Juan Linz’s 1960’s quintessential definition of authoritarianism which I will set out below.
Trump and the United States are on the list. Haven’t you Americans noticed lately that all your friends are trying to tell you something.
Current Authoritarians or Dictators *
- President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
- President of Angola, João Lourenço
- President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev
- King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
- President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko
- Sultan of Brunei, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah
- President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza
- President of Cameroon, Paul Biya
- President of Comoros Azali Assoumani
- President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Archange Touadera Central African Republic
- President of Chad, Idriss Deby
- President of China, Xi Jinping, (elected on Nov 15, 2012)
- President of the Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila
- Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen
- President of Congo, (Brazzaville) Denis Sassou Nguesso
- President Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara
- President of Cuba, Raul Castro
- President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Mbasogo
- President of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki
- Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn
- President of Gabon, Albert-Bernard Bongo
- President of Guinea-Bissau, José Mário Vaz
- President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani
- President of Iraq, (since Jul 24, 2014) Muhammad Fuad Masum
- King of Jordan, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein
- President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev
- President of Laos, Bounnhang Vorachith
- President of Libya, (since Aug 4, 2014) Nouri Abusahmain
- President of Mauritania, Mohamed AZIZ
- President of Myanmar (Burma) Win Myint
- President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou
- ‘Leader’ of North Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong-un
- Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al-Said
- President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit
- President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte
- Emir of Qatar, Tamim Al Thani
- President of Russia, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, (Re-elected on Mar 4, 2012. Took office on May 7, 2012)
- President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame
- King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Aziz Al Saud
- President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
- Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong
- President of The Sudan, (since Jun 30, 1989) Omar Al-Bashir
- King of Swaziland, Mswati III
- Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria (re-elected on Jun 6, 2014)
- President of Tadjikistan, Emomalii Rahmon
- Prime Minister of Thailand, (since military coup May 22, 2014) Prayut Chan-o-cha
- Chairman of Tibet, Losang Jamcan
- Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Erdogan
- President of Turkmenistan, (Re-elected on Feb 12, 2012) Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow
- President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa Nahyan
- President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev
- President of the United States, Donald John Trump
- President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro
- President of Vietnam, Tran Dai Quang
- President of Western Sahara, Brahim Ghali
- President of Yemen, (Elected on Feb 21, 2012 but usurped in 2015) Abd Al-Hadi
- President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa
*You are welcome to comment, criticize or update. This list will change by early Fall if not before.
Authoritarians rule with or without a Constitution.
In an article published in the Cornell Law Review titled Authoritarian Constitutionalism, Mark Tushnets writes as follows:
“Using Singapore as an extended case study, this Article examines the idea of authoritarian constitutionalism, which it identifies as a system of government that combines reasonably free and fair elections with a moderate degree of repressive control of expression and limits on personal freedom. After describing other versions of non-liberal constitutionalism, including “mere” rule-of-law constitutionalism, the Article offers an extended analysis and critique of accounts of constitutionalism and courts in authoritarian countries. Such accounts are largely strategic and instrumental, and, I argue, cannot fully explain the role of constitutions even in those countries.
“Rather, I argue, where constitutionalism exists in authoritarian systems, it does so because the rules have a modest normative commitment to constitutionalism.”
Juan Linz’s 1960’s description of authoritarianism is often relied upon. He characterized authoritarian political systems by four simple qualities that were a reflection of post-war (WWII) thinking: (Modernism and Totalitarianism Rethinking the Intellectual Sources of Nazism and Stalinism, 1945 to the Present, MacMillan)
- Limited political pluralism, that is such regimes place constraints on political institutions and groups like legislatures, political parties and interest groups;
- A basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat “easily recognizable societal problems” such as underdevelopment or insurgency;
- Minimal social mobilization most often caused by constraints on the public such as suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity;
- Informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting powers. (Wikipedia)