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What produces RUTHLESS DICTATORS?

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 05:52 pm
I don't know about listing Charles V and Philip II as ruthless dictators. Ruthless, certainly, but Charles was elected to his position as Holy Roman Emperor (and certainly he accomplished that with unprecedented bribery), and neither he nor his son Philip exercised extraordinary powers. They simply exercised the power which custom and tradition gave them. I also don't think Nero belongs in there, unless you are going to include all of the emperors, in which case Gaius (a.k.a., Caligula) and Lucius Septimius Bassianus (a.k.a., Caracalla) were the worst of the lot. Most of the bad press accorded to Nero comes from the dislike of him by the Patrician classes from which people such as Tacitus and Seutonius came, who were the historians of his reign. He is known from many sources, including these, to have been popular with the commons of the empire. Most contemporary historians consider that he has been libelled in history, and that there is little foundation for the claims against him, especially as the contemporary and near-contemporary accounts can't agree on his crimes.

The Emperor Giaus--Caligula--was clearly mad, but his descent into madness took a couple of years, and he was rather popular before that. As his depravity was revealed, it amused the commons more than shocked them--his victims were from his own class. He didn't last long after that, scarcely a year.

Caracalla, the son of Septimius Severus, is the one emperor who belongs in the category. Gibbon describes him as the common enemy of mankind, and for once, it appears that the charge is warranted. He lasted about six years--and was assassinated while taking a leak on the roadside. His father was the last of the great military emperors, and had taken the empire to its greatest extent. Caracalla was careful to take good care of the army, but his nature was just too brutal, and it is very likely that whatever the motives of his assassin may have been, he had alienated enough people, including those within the army, that he was doomed. He was succeeded by his Praetorian Prefect, who probably instigated the conspiracy against him.

Otherwise, most Roman emperors who lasted more than a few months were not exercising any extraordinary powers, nor wreaking any widespread cruelty against the people of the empire. The mere fact that the empire lasted as long as it did ought to clue people into its basic stability, which was accomplished through good communications and sound administration--not tyranny. Most of the lurid accounts that come down to us are the product of tight-assed Christian commentators who themselves miss the fact that an institution so far-flung, exercising power over such a broad mix of peoples, languages and religions would not survive with a system of personal rulers unless it were essentially benign, and reliably efficient and effective.
najmelliw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 06:13 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta, you are right.

The reason I listed the lot of them (all three) is because each one of them has been pretty ruthless in surpressing certain groups of their subjects.
Nero with the christians (although, to give him credit, other emperors etc. did likewise. I considered Caligula, but he was clearly mad. I never even thought about Caracella, I had clean forgotten him).
Charles and Phillips were, IIRC, the two rulers most responsible for the Contrareformation and the auto da fe in Spain and other parts of the Habsburg empire.

I considered to list Ferdinand and Isabelle, but I think most of the Inquisition 'madness' had to do with Torquemadas. I'm not sure how much authority the two rulers had over him, allthough I'm quite certain they didn't really object much to his actions.

There are my reasons for selecting them, but especially about Nero I confess it might have been a bit premature to list him. But then again, do you have some valid alternatives?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 08:12 pm
OK, that's reasonable enough . . . except that the crap about Nero persecuting "Christians" is made up. He died in 68--even Paul was still alive and kicking then. In 68, even Christians didn't call themselves Christians, so the crapola about Nero in Tacitus is clearly an interpolation--added nearly 1500 years later. In the first century of this era, the Romans didn't even know the Christians existed.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 08:17 pm
As for Ferdinand and Isabella, at the same time as the Reconquista was accomplished (1492), they ordered all the Jews and Muslims out of Spain, on pain of death, unless they converted. The problem with describing them as ogres for that is that it wasn't really an uncommon attitude to have taken. The Office of the Holy Inquisition already existed, and had for a long time. What made it particularly relevant to Spain was that F & I asked for a permanent sitting of the Inquisition in Spain, so as to facilitate the expulsion or conversion of Moors (read, Muslims) and Jews. But even the Inquisition has gotten a bad press in history--during the Reformation, the Protestants used the printing press to great effect, and disseminated a good deal of propaganda about Catholics and the Inquisition.
0 Replies
 
okie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 10:16 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

People like you on a mission to blame all that is bad on liberals (or whatever group) don't really want facts. You slide around facts and good arguments to renew the attack endlessly. Which is why I don't consider your style of debate worthy of engagement. I occasionally drop into these threads to see if anything is going on, but rarely see cause to remain .

Fine, I have never actually seen much debating that you have ever offered, to be honest. If you don't have anything to offer, don't hang around. Have a nice day.

To start this thread, I offered what I thought were significant common denominators to bad actors in relatively recent history, and if you choose to discount it, that is your choice. I think I have at least added something of substance here, and based upon the fact that nobody has offered much in the way of rebuttal, I think it stands on its merits. As a tangential subject to this original subject, I have offered significant evidence that Hitler and Nazism was on the left, not the right, in context with left and right as judged by their modern American meanings, and again, I think my arguments stand on strong merits. And I am far from alone in this analysis. And I have not seen a strong rebuttal so far.

The reason I believe a discussion like this is important is to hopefully alert more people to the pitfalls of history, and the possibility of another bad actor to really wreak havoc, so that maybe it can be avoided.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 03:22 am
@okie,
Quote:
And I have not seen a strong rebuttal so far.


That's because no one takes you and your self-serving partisan horseshit seriously.

Prior to the Reichstag fire, the NSDAP and Hitler never polled more than 35% of the vote. That was enough to make them the largest party in the Reichstag, but not enough to give him the kind of control he needed. When he personally ran against Hindenberg, he only polled 35%. Then someone set fire to the building in which the Reichstag met, and Hitler had the leverage to go after the power he wanted. A Dutchman who was very likely seriously mentally ill was blamed for the fire, and he was (at least allegedly) a communist. Using that as an excuse, Hitler was able to secure legislation in the Reichstag which outlawed left-wing parties. The NSDAP did better in the next elections, because the field was limited, but they still only polled 44%, so Hitler was still in a coalition government. Hitler's coalition government relied upon the DNVP, the German National People's Party, a far right-wing group. But to get ultimate power, Hitler needed two thirds. So he made an agreement with the Centre Party, a center-right Catholic party, and when a deal was hammered out, he passed the Enabling Act, which allowed him to legislate without reference to the Reichstag. Shortly thereafter, all political parties, except the NSDAP, were outlawed.

The NSDAP was a right-wing, nationalist party. It relied in coalition upon the far right party, the DNVP. To get the two-thirds vote for the Enabling Act, he relied upon the Centre Party, a center-right party. You started from an assumption that "liberals," leftists, represent all things evil, and represent the greatest evil. You wanted to "prove" that, and you've been producing distorted crap ever since. What you have done here is not an exercise in historical analysis or synthesis, it's an exercise in propagandistic bullshit. You had your mind made up, and you have tried to warp a reading of the historical record to claim your prejudice is vindicated.

Small wonder no one knowledgeable on the subject has wanted to discuss it with you.
najmelliw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 03:29 am
@Setanta - What you say re Nero is eminently sensible, and I shamefacedly withdraw Nero from my list. I'll return with the semi-legendary first emperor of China, Ch'in I think it was.

@okie - What you did in your first post is list 5 or 6 of the most ruthless dictators of the 20th century (I won't dispute that list, I'm pretty much in agreement with it).

Then you provide a short background, which conincides pretty nicely with your stipulated theories. However, as asherman in the first page alreayd pointed out, these theorems are very broad and can apply to literally thousands of individuals.

However, based on the fact that the backgrounds you provide neatly tie in to the theorems, you are starting to generalize about ALL ruthless dictators

First of, and this is important, what do you understand to be ruthless?
To sitck with Hitler for example, you might very well argue he was a fanatical idealist, and he honestly thought he was creating a better society for all.

Is he then more or less ruthless then let's say a potentate who for example stabs out the eyes of the architect who made a masterpiece of architecure for him? Or a mother who had her own son tortured to death in front of her own eyes?

And where you provide that your left/right discussion re nazism is a tangent, it has rapidly turned into the focus of the thread. Personally, I don't think that discussion has a definite answer, and it's mainly used as propaganda by left/right to ascertain that the other side of the political spectrum is twisted and evil.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 03:48 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Quote:
And I have not seen a stronWhat you have done here is not an exercise in historical analysis or synthesis, it's an exercise in propagandistic bullshit. You had your mind made up, and you have tried to warp a reading of the historical record to claim your prejudice is vindicated.

Small wonder no one knowledgeable on the subject has wanted to discuss it with you.


Actually, okie uses all the tactics Hitler and the Nazis used 80 years, just to bring his "thesis" forward.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 06:39 am
@najmelliw,
Quote:
I'll return with the semi-legendary first emperor of China, Ch'in I think it was.


Ah yes, the Yellow Emperor--now that was one mean son of a bitch. He registered to vote as a Republican, you know.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 09:37 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Oops, sorry for the misquoting - it certainly was though to be my response! Embarrassed
0 Replies
 
okie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 10:15 am
@najmelliw,
najmelliw wrote:

@okie - What you did in your first post is list 5 or 6 of the most ruthless dictators of the 20th century (I won't dispute that list, I'm pretty much in agreement with it).

Then you provide a short background, which conincides pretty nicely with your stipulated theories. However, as asherman in the first page alreayd pointed out, these theorems are very broad and can apply to literally thousands of individuals.

Yes, that can apply to thousands of individuals, but not to those that gain power. For example, most American presidents have a much more normal and functional childhood and life. Take Bush for example, a reasonably normal and functional human being with a decent family upbringing and family.

Quote:
However, based on the fact that the backgrounds you provide neatly tie in to the theorems, you are starting to generalize about ALL ruthless dictators

It is a pretty impressive set of conditions that do correlate, thats the entire point of what I posted. I believe it is a significant recognition of an interesting and pretty clear correlation to a set of conditions in those people's lives. Just as various conditions can be found in the backgrounds of criminals, the same can be done with bad apple politicians, and that is what I did. To pass it off as mere generalization is purposely ignoring the truth and significance of what I have found.

Quote:
First of, and this is important, what do you understand to be ruthless?
To sitck with Hitler for example, you might very well argue he was a fanatical idealist, and he honestly thought he was creating a better society for all.

Is he then more or less ruthless then let's say a potentate who for example stabs out the eyes of the architect who made a masterpiece of architecure for him? Or a mother who had her own son tortured to death in front of her own eyes?

I am not attempting to grade degrees of ruthlessness, I am simply recognizing it when I see it, and you have already admitted my list of characters fit the description. The degree of ruthlessness goes beyond the point of the discussion and is superfluous speculation at this point.

Quote:
And where you provide that your left/right discussion re nazism is a tangent, it has rapidly turned into the focus of the thread. Personally, I don't think that discussion has a definite answer, and it's mainly used as propaganda by left/right to ascertain that the other side of the political spectrum is twisted and evil.


No, I think it does have an answer, and I have provided evidence. Many other people believe it has an answer, and I believe it is important to recognize the existence of an answer and to try to identify it. You see, the reason I believe, and other people believe, that the Left is a much more dangerous idealogy is the very fact that the Left believe in government forced solutions, collectivism, and by its very definition requires more government power and therefore potential abuse. The same conditions cannot be said about the Right or the conservative idealogy, because by definition it believes in the power, freedom, and responsibility of the individual, not government. Therefore, a fanatic that applies himlelf to Leftist idealogy is a very dangerous individual, and that is where the individuals are classified, that I chose as the examples for this thread.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 10:37 am
All of which is to say, that you are going to continue to believe that the historical record supports your ideological bigotry, without regard to the warping of the historical record it is necessary for you to do to achieve that end. I could, for example, point out that right-wing individuals support the accumulation of capital, and support the power which accrues from that capital, and point to the triumph of the Patrician order in the Roman Republic in their centuries long struggle with the Plebeian order over the use of public lands conquered in war. From there it is a short step to alleging that the collapse of the Republic and the rise of the Principiate empire was a direct result of the inherent corruption of right-wing political thought, which is wedded to plutocratic principles and the rule of a wealthy elite.

Your thesis has no merit, and you refuse to acknowledge the poverty of your evidence. Both Francisco Franco and Benito Mussolini were fascist dictators (and the term fascist derives from Mussolini's political movement), and neither of them had unhappy or unstable childhoods. You are so eager to make your idiotic case for the partisan depravity of the left and the partisan purity of the right, that you will go to any extreme to support your thesis.

You have no case. I have not the least doubt that that fact will do nothing to inhibit your lunacy.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 10:46 am
@Setanta,
well yeah but you forget Sotomayor grew up in a single parent household.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 10:52 am
@dyslexia,
She has yet to set up for a ruthless dictator.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 11:03 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

She has yet to set up for a ruthless dictator.
not what I hear.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 11:04 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Setanta wrote:
What you have done here is not an exercise in historical analysis or synthesis, it's an exercise in propagandistic bullshit. You had your mind made up, and you have tried to warp a reading of the historical record to claim your prejudice is vindicated.

Small wonder no one knowledgeable on the subject has wanted to discuss it with you.


Actually, okie uses all the tactics Hitler and the Nazis used 80 years, just to bring his "thesis" forward.


It is also interesting to note the tenor of Okie's entire exercise. The academic dialectic materialism which was established after the success of the Bolshevik revolution held that history is the handmaiden of Marxist ideology. The proper study of history, in that view, is to justify the inevitability of the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Karl Popper points out that historical materialism (cognate with dialectic materialism) can be used to explain or to deny any fact or contention, and is therefore not subject to falsification, and therefore cannot be viewed as a scientific inquiry, or a basis for empirical statements about human society or economic activities and systems.

Okie is doing the same thing here, but on the other side of the coin. He determines that all that is right-wing is good and wholesome, and all that is left-wing is evil and destructive. He then sets out to find a justification for this point of view by cherry-picking poorly considered examples from history--in the process of which, of course, he is obliged to ignore more of the historical record than he employs, which was exactly the source of the poverty of historical study in "applied" dialectic materialism. So, in order to condemn left-wing political views, and to portray them as inevitably leading to ruthless dictatorship such as was embodied in the Stalinist Soviet Union, he employs the same technique as the communists whom he deplores.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 11:07 am
@dyslexia,
Have you and Okie been chatting again?
0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 11:45 am
@okie,
Quote:
It is a pretty impressive set of conditions that do correlate, thats the entire point of what I posted. I believe it is a significant recognition of an interesting and pretty clear correlation to a set of conditions in those people's lives.


You forgot to mention so many things that correlate to ruthless dictators okie.

1. They all were of woman borne.
2. Their mothers all had sex of some kind.
3. They all were adolescents at one time.
4. They all breathe oxygen
5. They all were able to see using eyes located in their heads.
6. They all had noses.
7. All were born with 2 hands.
8. Most of them personally had sex of some kind.
9. All of them were human in form
10. They all had language skills.
11. They all had personal relationships of some kind with other people.
12. They all had at least simple math skills.

I don't know how you couldn't recognize all the correlations and realize that they tie into ruthless dictators?

To pass it off as mere generalization is purposely ignoring the truth and significance of what I have found.
0 Replies
 
okie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 11:54 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
"supports your ideological bigotry, "

Nothing more needs saying about Setanta's post. Convictions for what is better in terms of a political view is now "bigotry."

Call it bigotry, so what, yes I admit to it, I am vigorously opposed to Leftist idealogies. I think they lead to very unfortunate and negative results.

I am also opposed to theft and murder, so I guess I am also bigoted against thieves and murderers.

parados
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 11:57 am
@okie,
Quote:
Bigot is often used as a pejorative term to describe a person who is obstinately devoted to prejudices, especially when these views are either challenged, or proven to be false or not universally applicable or acceptable.


So.. how do you feel about having your ideas challenged okie? What are you feelings about "leftists?" Are you devoted to those feelings in spite of them being not universally applicable or acceptable?

I would have to say, yes. If you want to show us how you don't think "leftists" are evil, I would love to see it.
 

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