A complete observation about how a dictator operates, thinks, and maintains power requires an examination on how they manage to condition society into accepting their rule and the tactics they employ when their rule is disrupted, criticized, or called into question. Most observers view dictators as individuals who are unhinged, paranoid, delusional, or insane and to some extent this is true, but underneath their irrational behavior are masters of manipulation and deceit who actually know what they are doing in order to deceive their citizens into claiming their legitimacy.
Dictators like to give their citizens and the international community the impression that their country’s are wealthy, calm, orderly, beautiful, and growing. They often boast about their recent developments in infrastructure projects and advancements in medical technology, but don’t let the bright lights and pretty buildings fool you because dictators use these things to their advantage by creating a grand illusion all in an effort to make their citizens believe that they actually have something invested in their country by their leader. They do this to pacify their subjects in order to quail any disenfranchisement or possible revolts against the regime. Dictators give their citizens just enough to survive on while making them believe that none of the country’s successes would have been possible without the dictators intervention which in return secures their legitimacy.
As a dictators control over society becomes more absolute their citizens begin to enter a state where they start to question what they see and feel, as the truth becomes elusive and the facts seem like figments of their imagination. What they do and say that steps out of line to the dictators standards are held into account and viewed as disobedient, unpatriotic, and deviant while obedience is defined as the norm. Dictators will often slander their opposition as extremists or terrorists that share nothing in common with the ordinary people which conditions the population to distrust democratic actions creating a apathetic and cynical society where corrupt authoritarians thrive.
Once a dictator has divided the population up between those deemed good and bad they begin the process of rooting out and targeting their opposition. Those critical of the dictator and their regime face arrest, detention, torture, and possible execution. By eliminating all forms of dissent, the dictator capitalizes on creating a one tiered system of subjects who are forced into being obedient to their rule or else risk the chance of becoming a casualty for being disobedient much like the opposition. Once these mechanisms are in place, the dictators only goal is to maintain their power at all costs even if that means silencing all forms of free speech, assembly, association, and the press or even killing hundreds of thousands of people just to make a statement.
At this point, the power of a dictatorial system is in full play as citizens are scared to talk, form an opinion, or criticize their own government. The consequences for challenging the dictators rule is overwhelmingly accompanied by violence. As a result, citizens become timid reflections of their doubts and fears only to appreciate what little they have while keeping all reprisals built inside. In the end the dictator has managed to build a society out of fear and intimidation that is both strong and corrupt. The dictator has successfully and deliberately manipulated all systems that govern society while altering reality based on how people think and act all in the grand scheme for total control.