"Of the despotism to which unrestrained military power leads we have plenty of examples from Alexander to Mao."

       -Samuel Eliot Morison


"Secrecy is the beginning to Tyranny."

Robert Heinlein


Though the liberal constitutionalist in each of us rebels at the thought, people have often preferred representation through the acts of a Fuhrer, a Caudillo or an Ayatollah than through the niceties of a carefully balanced electoral process.


"One does not need….collective pathology as in the Nazi era, in which legal institutions still appeared to function but had in fact acquired some aspects of madness. The potential for such madness is present even in ordinary times and places."

Otto Walter Weyroush



"Everywhere in the world I dread the same self-deception which holds "It can’t happen here." It can happen anywhere. It becomes unlikely only where the mass of the population is aware of the threat, where the character of "Totalitarianism" is known and recognized from its very inception and in each of its aspects-as a Proteus which is constantly putting on new masks, which glides out of your grasp like an eel, which does the opposite of what it claims. Which perverts the meaning of its words, which speaks, not to impart information, but to hypnotize, divert attention, insinuate, dupe, which exploits and produces every type of fear, which promises security while destroying it completely."

Karl Jaspers



"Happiness is far easier to achieve under a dictatorship; in a dictatorship the only measure of good citizenship is obedience. If citizens do what they are told, they know they are good."

Richard Lawrence Miller

Drug Warriors & Their prey


"All dictators, irrespective of epoch or country, have one common trait; they know everything, are experts on everything. The thoughts of Qadaffi and Ceasescu, Idi Amin and Alfredo Stroessner-there is no end to the profundities and wisdom. Stalin was expert on history, economics, poetry, and linguistics. As it turned out, he was also expert on architecture."

Ryszard Kapuscinski


"Every despotism has a specially keen and hostile instinct for whatever keeps up human dignity and independence."

Amiel, Journal 1852


"How long will you keep killing people? asked Lady Astor of Stalin in 1931.

   Replied Stalin, "The process would continue as long as was necessary" to establish a communist society."



"We live, deaf to the land beneath us,

Ten steps away no one hears our speeches,

But where there's so much as half a conversation

The Kremlin's mountaineer will be mentioned.

His fingers are fat as worms

And the words, final as lead weights, fall from his lips

His cockroach whiskers leer

And his boot tops shine.

Around him a crowd of thin-necked leaders-

Fawning, half-men for him to play with.

The whinny, purr or whine

As he prances and points a finger.

One by one forging his laws. to be flung

Like horseshoes at the head, the eye or the groin.

And every murder is a treat

For the broad-chested Ossete

Mandelstam's poem about Stalin


"How cruel humans, can be when they become a tyrannical mob, a torrent that has no mercy on those who stand in its way, that does not listen to cries for help. The tyranny of a single man is the most tolerable of tyrannies; after all, he is just one man and can be removed from power in a single blow. The tyranny of the mob is far worse, for who can stand in the face of the torrent’s overwhelming power?

I love the freedom of the masses; I adore those who have smashed their shackles after years of suffering. But I also feel apprehensive about them. When happy and content, the masses are full of compassion, and they put their chosen one on a pedestal: Hannibal, Pericles, Savonarola, Danton, Robespierre, Mussolini, Nixon. But how cruel the masses become when they are enraged: they hemlocked Hannibal, burned Savonarola at the stake, guillotined Danton, broke Robespierre’s jaw, dragged Mussolini corpse through the streets, and spat in Nixon’s face when he left the White House.

This is the flame that scorches my back. I stand before a loving yet ruthless society, before people who know all too well what they want from the individual but don’t care about what the individual wants from them, before the masses that love without even showing that love by, say, offering a seat in a movie theater, or a table in a café.

What can I do in an insane, modern city whose inhabitants gnaw at me whenever they see me: "Build a new house for us, pave a path to the sea, plant a garden, catch a whale, unites us in Wedlock, kill a dog for us, buy us a cat!"

I am a poor wandering Bedouin who doesn’t even have a birth certificate. I eat without washing my hands and kick whatever happens to be in my way, even if it might smash the window of a store, or hit an old woman. I’ve never tasted alcohol, soda water, or Pepsi. I drink water and use the hem of my cloak to screen the tadpoles from the well water. I don’t know what money looks like, yet those who bump into me always ask me for something or other. I have nothing to give. All I have was stolen from the hands of thieves, the mouths of mice, the fangs of dogs, and I bestowed it upon the city dwellers.

But the people are impatient and insist that they get it all instantly. Mind is a unique case. I’m the only one who has nothing, yet I’m harassed and bugged almost on an hourly basis.

That’s why I ran away to the desert, alone, ran away from you and your breathing down my neck-to save myself. Your breaths annoyed me, invaded my privacy, violated my being. Your breaths followed me like rabid dogs, salivating along your modern mad city streets.

So I leave me to my worries. Stop chasing me. Stop pointing me out to your children so they can run after me and taunt me wherever I go. Why do you take away my peace of mind? Why do you deny me the freedom to roam your streets? I am a human as your are.

Colonel Muammar Qaddafi

From "Run Away to Hell"in The Village, the City, the Suicide of the Astronaut, and Other Stories, a collection of Qaddafi’s writing published by the General Egyptian Book Organization in Cairo. (the book is a best seller in the Arab world)


There is no perfect way to put the question, but it has to be asked: Was totalitarianism a twentieth-century aberration, or did it reveal something profound in the modern West, something we still must reckon with? One difficulty in posing the question is that since the fall of communism, the very idea of totalitarianism has largely evaporated. It is a rather crude idea, yet it has been central to the way freedom has been construed in our time.

It is the idea of totalitarianism itself that makes the question difficult to pose. That idea began its life describing something imagined to be admirable-Mussolini’s stato totalitario as a heroic national enterprise. In the second half of the century, however, the term became an uneasy addition to the lexicon of political science, uneasy because it combined under a single rubric the rather different experiences of Nazism, Communism and Fascism. Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brezinski, in their influential book Totalitarian dictatorship and autocracy (1965) thought totalitarianism could be boiled down to six basic characteristics: an ideology, a single party typically led by one man, a terroristic police, a communications monopoly, a weapons monopoly and a centrally directed economy. Marxists were always unhappy with the idea, both because it put them in the same box as the Nazis, and because their undeniably totalist conception of communism, by contrast with actually existing communist states, claimed to generate freedom rather than servitude. On the other hand, radical philosophers such as Foucault interpreted Western civilization itself as a kind of concealed totalitarianism-a form of oppression without an oppressor. The idea thus lacked focus.

Kenneth Minogue (Professor emeritus of political science at the London School of Economics. From "Totalitarianism: Have we seen the End of It?


"He screamed at me to turn around. I obeyed, knowing what was coming next. He lashed me with his electric cable, following the first blow with another and another as if he were crazy, and the cable struck my back again and again. As in a trance, Uday groaned and exhaled loudly through his nose with each blow. None of the officers dared to intervene. I felt the burning pain, but endured it without a word. Worse than the sting was the humiliation. He had lit into me almost without provocation. What had I done? I had laughed during training. That was enough for him to lose control.

I counted each blow. He stopped at thirty-three. He was breathing heavily, his forehead bathed in sweat, and suddenly he began to laugh hysterically. That staccato hihihihi. He seemed satisfied, released, as if this spontaneous outbreak of violence had given him sexual satisfaction. Was Uday a sadist, a person who could overcome his sexual and psychological inhibitions only through the crudest violence? Immature, unfinished personalities hate without reason, tend to work off aggression against helpless objects. Sadists are psychologically immature people."

In his youth, Saddam Hussein had vented aggression with a red-hot iron bar, impaling hapless animals. What had Uday inherited from his Father? Was he even worse than Saddam? This senseless explosion of violence seemed to me nothing more than an excuse to assert his identity. Uday probably hated himself."


Latif Yahia & Karl Wendl

I Was Saddam’s Son


"Rip the whores’ clothes off!" Uday screamed suddenly. That was the order his friends were waiting for. They chased the giggling, screeching women, most of them drunk, through the house, and ripped off their garments and threw them into the pool. Uday grabbed two of the women and disappeared into his room, the one where I had lived for months. He left the door and curtains open, so that everyone clustered by the pool could see him tying the women and beating them with his cable as he looked at the television screen. He had shoved a porno cassette into the VCR, which was spooling out sadistic scenes of men being pleasured by European women in patent leather outfits, women crawling in front of their master and enjoying the tortures he meted out. Uday had hundreds of these videotapes.

The birthday party turned into a wild orgy while Uday amused himself on the black silk sheets in his room. The only ones not naked were the waiters, with their white uniforms and starched collars. The guests copulated everywhere , even in the bathrooms, standing as they did it and observing themselves in the baroque mirrors."

(birthday party for Saddam’s Son)



"By pure coincidence, I once witnessed a couple of such murders. Our convoy with Uday was on its way to Project No. 7, when we came upon Kamel Hannah’s men chasing two women with black Mercedes limousines. They hit them, drove over them, and backed up and drove over the lifeless bodies several times more. Then they dragged the corpses to one of the feeder roads connecting Saddam’s palace with the steamboats plying the Tigris. Uday had us stop the convoy. Got out, and spoke with Kamel Hannah. "Whores of my father," he told me then."

Latif Yahia

I Was Saddam’s Son


"Fresh girls appeared daily at the club, and every day was a drunken party. The offices degenerated into venues for wild orgies. If Uday and his men had led dissolute lives before, now they went completely overboard. Screeching naked women intertwined on the floor with the bodyguards. Uday had one girl jump up on a table covered with various lamb dishes for a buffet. She rolled around in the rice with raisins, smeared curry and all kinds of sauces on her breasts, and demanded lasciviously that we lick it off. Some did."




"I want to imagine under what new traits despotism will appear in the world. I see an innumerable multitude of similar and equal people who turn incessantly in search of petty and vulgar pleasures, with which they fill their soul. Each, standing apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of the others, his children and personal friends forming for him the entire human race. As for the remainder of his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them and even if he still has a family, one can say that he no longer has a country. Above these people rises an immense and tutelary power, which alone takes charge of assuring their pleasures and looking after their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, foresighted, and mild. It would resemble paternal power, if, like it, its object was to prepare men for maturity. But it only seeks, on the contrary , to fix them irrevocably to childhood."

Alexis de Tocquiville


   "Mao called himself heshang dasan-an outlaw, "I am a graduate from the University of Outlaws," he declared. Outlaw became a euphemism for tyrant, sycophant, and treacherous despot. He read avidly about the lives of the cruelest emperors, thinking himself to be messianic, a chosen ruler. Heshang dasan was an apt description. He hated state ritual and protocol, and lived and ruled beyond the law, replacing the state and social conventions with customs of his own. He traveled around his country frequently , talking to local leaders face-to-face. This way, no one could know what he said to them, no one could usurp or counteract his power"

Gretel Ehrlich

Questions of Heaven.


  "Original and eccentric, Mao's style was perhaps better suited to the absurdist stage of choreographer Pina Bausch than to the theatre of global politics. He was demanding, paranoid, lascivious, delusional, and impenitent. A recluse, he met foreign dignitaries in his bathrobe. He refused to wash, saying, "I bathe myself inside the bodies of women." He was an insomniac and insisted on having his personal doctor with him at all times, so that he couldn't sleep, he had a reliable companion to chat with, usually in the middle of the night. His sexual appetite was such that he insisted on having his bed carried with him at all times for frequent sexual forays. He spent most of his days swimming and lying in bed. When times were bad, he rode around in his private railway carriage with the shades drawn down."

Gretel Ehrlich

Questions of Heaven


Book: "The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin" by Richard Lourie

Book: "The Red Millionaire: A Political Biography of Willi Munzenberg, Moscow's Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West" by Sean Mcmeekin

Book: "The Unknown Stalin" by Medvedev

Book: "The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia" by Richard Overy

Book: "Death By Government" by R.J. Rummel

Book: "Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million" by Martin Amis

Book: "Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil" by James Bovard

© 2001



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