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Autocracy Is Winning — The Atlantic

January 9th, 2022 15:01

US media has pub­lished a tren­chant analy­sis of what is called “Autoc­ra­cy Inc.”, the auto­crat­ic alliance of author­i­tar­i­an states that work in a new way to pre­serve their pow­er, in part by rely­ing on shared influ­ence net­works. Accord­ing to the Atlantic report:

All of us have in our minds a car­toon image of what an auto­crat­ic state looks like. There is a bad man at the top. He con­trols the police. The police threat­en the peo­ple with vio­lence. There are evil col­lab­o­ra­tors, and maybe some brave dis­si­dents. But in the 21st cen­tu­ry, that car­toon bears lit­tle resem­blance to real­i­ty. Nowa­days, autoc­ra­cies are run not by one bad guy, but by sophis­ti­cat­ed net­works com­posed of klep­to­crat­ic finan­cial struc­tures, secu­ri­ty ser­vices (mil­i­tary, police, para­mil­i­tary groups, sur­veil­lance), and pro­fes­sion­al pro­pa­gan­dists. The mem­bers of these net­works are con­nect­ed not only with­in a giv­en coun­try, but among many coun­tries. The cor­rupt, state-con­trolled com­pa­nies in one dic­ta­tor­ship do busi­ness with cor­rupt, state-con­trolled com­pa­nies in anoth­er. The police in one coun­try can arm, equip, and train the police in anoth­er. The pro­pa­gan­dists share resources—the troll farms that pro­mote one dictator’s pro­pa­gan­da can also be used to pro­mote the pro­pa­gan­da of another—and themes, pound­ing home the same mes­sages about the weak­ness of democ­ra­cy and the evil of Amer­i­ca. This is not to say that there is some super­secret room where bad guys meet, as in a James Bond movie. Nor does the new auto­crat­ic alliance have a uni­fy­ing ide­ol­o­gy. Among mod­ern auto­crats are peo­ple who call them­selves com­mu­nists, nation­al­ists, and theocrats. No one coun­try leads this group. Wash­ing­ton likes to talk about Chi­nese influ­ence, but what real­ly bonds the mem­bers of this club is a com­mon desire to pre­serve and enhance their per­son­al pow­er and wealth. Unlike mil­i­tary or polit­i­cal alliances from oth­er times and places, the mem­bers of this group don’t oper­ate like a bloc, but rather like an agglom­er­a­tion of companies—call it Autoc­ra­cy Inc. Their links are cement­ed not by ideals but by deals—deals designed to take the edge off West­ern eco­nom­ic boy­cotts, or to make them per­son­al­ly rich—which is why they can oper­ate across geo­graph­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal lines.he

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