By: Salem Al Awakli
Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa told a story in his semi-documentary novel The Feast of the Goat about a political opponent who were tortured and cut into pieces by the Dominican tyrant Rafael Trujillo’s intelligence agency. Llosa continued that the opponent’s death did not satisfy them, so they imprisoned his father and starved him for several days. Then, they brought him a hearty meal. After he finished eating, they told him that he ate his own son! Llosa wanted to say that this kind of tyranny belongs to the cannibalism era.
The ruling regimes that eliminate their opponents are actually driven by obsessive–compulsive disorder. These regimes feel that they seize an illegitimate place on the political scene, or in other words the lack of political legitimacy. It happens regardless their relentless attempts to obtain fake legitimacy from their history, holy race, power, authority, or ability to protect the nation they rule.
I do not know for sure if the political authority that lacks legitimacy deservers to be called [a regime] according to the modern political common language. In my own opinion, [a regime] is an authority regulated by contracts, laws, and legislations that define its relationship with the people. Otherwise, it does not deserve to be called [a regime]. It is just a system which relies on certain influence and succeeded at some point to control society. Then, it imposes its own regulations that support its authority, as if it is destined. It can also follow a certain religion or doctrine to be divinely supported and deputed. This is should be defined as ‘power embezzlement’. This embezzlement causes two types of compliance, biological and psychological.
From a biological side, the people show a complete submission to the authority. They believe that they are living happily in their government’s bliss, which provides them the needed food, clothes and protection. Even some militias use this mechanism to control villages, towns, and big cities.
They work hard to strengthen this power within the community and turn it into reality through getting used to it. The people even start to feel nostalgia for this authority if it was absent. This can be the psychological side.
As for the people live in the shade of their government’s bliss and enjoy its gratuities, so the rulers feel like they have the right to do anything to their people, even cutting them to pieces or putting them in fridges for long years, if they disobeyed or criticized the authority. This directly refers to the cannibalism era with no doubt.
The legitimacy of old powerful rulers used to come through metaphysical ways, and delegated by their close elite through the so-called “pledge of allegiance” which is usually backed by traditional religious institutions. It can also be reached through armed struggle costing blood and killings. Religious institutions usually support this kind of authorities as well, out of the belief that the ruler is divinely supported and must be obeyed regardless how he came to power or how many crimes he committed to the people.
With human development, communities started to seek different kind of regimes depend only on political legitimacy and [elections]. Legitimate regimes should be regulated with several standards including a specific time frame, constitution, and accepting criticism. Human psychology has always proved that if any ruler stayed in power longer than he should be, then his morals are more likely to be distorted.
Strangely, all regimes that denied people from their right to chose ended in a tragic way, whether imperial, royal, feudal, or republican. They ended leaving mass graves of their victims who had different views or opponents who were killed to maintain their authority. Every illegitimate rule does not stop crushing his opponents, even though he knows that he will face a tragic end.
Hitler killed whoever stood on his way, and finally he, his wife and his pampered dog committed suicide, leaving behind mass graves of anyone opposed him. Mussolini, who never accepted a criticism, was hanged up from his legs after being killed. Saddam Hussein of Iraq was found hiding in a hole after he eliminated all his opponents, even from his family and friends. Muammar Gaddafi was tortured and killed by revolutionaries, after he executed, slaughtered, and imprisoned whoever opposed him through his brutal “revolutionary committees”.
Why ruling authorities still insist on the same violence techniques? This is the question.
Freedom of expression must come through a constitutional contract between the authority and citizens, in which all citizens realize that they are the main side of the contract. The people are the only source of legitimacy. They are the taxpayers, the components of civil society organizations, and the implied author of the constitution.
Therefore, the ruler has turned into a temporary employee with limited authority, the government into an administration, and the electorate into the central power that will monitor the ruler through various regulatory institutions, freedom of expression of journalism, and independent judiciary.
This bloodshed will not stop, nor is the cannibals’ appetite, until we rise to a new civilized stage where human treated as citizen.