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The political regime characterizes the techniques and methods of the state power, as well as methods of non-state political organizations, such as political parties, political movements, clubs, and alliances. It is the most dynamic component of the form of a state, which reacts to all changes, occurring in the economic, social, and political spheres of social life, especially in relation to the social and political forces in the country. Non-democratic regimes are formed in the state in case where authority is exercised by coercion, that is, by means of political violence. There are many types of non-democratic regimes, which differ in different degrees of authoritarian rule. The most famous are the authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Many examples of the authoritarian regime are known not only in the history but also nowadays. This reflection paper examines the features of political violence in such non-democratic political regimes as totalitarianism and authoritarianism in modern world. It focuses on “Arab Spring” as the revolutionary response to the authoritarian regime in the Arab countries, and onNorth Korea as the bright example of totalitarianism.
“Arab Spring” and the Attempt to Overthrow Authoritarian Regime
Absolute monarchy and military dictatorship are the varieties of authoritarianism, which can be observed when analyzing the so-called revolutionary movement as “Arab Spring”. The genealogy of authoritarian Arab regimes, that in the 2010—2011 became a target for young Arab revolutionaries, counts the series of military coups. From a political point of view, protests were caused by deficiency of real democracy. In the Arab countries, government leaders remained in power over the decades, handing leadership of the country to their successors. Thus, one family clan could reigh in a country for about fifty years. Such authoritarian regimes led to the high levels of corruption, lack of freedom of speech, the widening gap between rich and poor countries, which in turn triggered the mass discontent. The protesters aimed to remove family clans from authorities, which, in the opinion of the majority, impeded and complicated the development of democracy in the Arab society. Young people were the main driving force of these protests. Related to this, it is possible to highlight one feature of the Arab revolutions—their spontaneous and largely emotional character. Radical dissent can be explained by the desire of rapid and significant changes in the existing system, as well as the deep disappointment in the old regime and lack of faith in the future.
In Libya, the demonstrations in February 2011 were associated with a history of political violence of Muammar Gaddafi. Brutal death penalty in June 1996, when more than 1 000 prisoners, were killed in Abu Salim prison, created a precedent for dissatisfaction with the regime. In 2006, the security forces killed 12 members of a peaceful demonstration in Benghazi. The arrest of Fathi Terbil, a human rights activist and lawyer, who represented the families of victims of the massacres of 1996, led to the new protests. The unrest quickly spread; the more people took to the streets, the more violent the political repression became. Gaddafi ordered military to suppress the demonstration violently, which was condemned by the international community.
Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, also violently responded to the quickly spreading protests. The first protests, that began in February 2011, were localized and quickly suppressed by his regime. Then, the protests in the city Dara caused the arrest and torture of young boys. The security forces unsuccessfully tried to stop the protests by using tear gas, water cannons, and military ammunition. At the end of the year, there were already protests throughout Syria, often involving tens of thousands of people. Province Dara remained in the spotlight, but soon Homs became the main hot spot. Initially, the demands of protests participants concerned economic and political reforms, but later—the removal of the President Assad; they demanded free and fair elections. Except for a few cases of riots, demonstrations were peaceful. Instead, the authorities responded in mass arrests, torture of detainees, denial of medical care to the wounded, and the use of snipers against demonstrators. In addition to the forces, the regime also applied policies, laying the blame for the violence on "foreign elements" and "terrorists", constantly pushing the promises of reforms. Indeed, Assad abolished the state of emergency, changed the composition of the government, but these reforms ended in even more brutal violence. It led to the Syrian army defections, especially among Sunni conscript soldiers. Some deserters organized small groups to protect demonstrators, and sometimes even engage in clashes with the army. There was an obvious relationship between the number of victims and determination of requirements: where the protesters demanded regime change, the victims reached high level. In addition, monocratic government, guided by one party or family is more vulnerable to challenges than traditional monarchy. In particular, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Tunisia belong to the first category, while Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf—to the second one. In most open Arab countries, such as Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian Authority, civil unrest regarding domestic problems were much weaker. In particular, in Palestinian territories, demonstrators demanded greater unity of the Palestinian community, not regime change.
North Korea as the Example of Totalitarian Regime
Many experts indicate the political regime of North Korea as the most totalitarian in the world. Today, it is the most closed and mysterious country in the world. The form of government in North Korea has no analogues in the world. One of the feature of the North Korean political system is state terror against all dissidents or unwanted. The scale of it is not fully disclosed, as North Korea is virtually closed country. But despite this, the world has learned about the hundreds of thousands of victims of repression. There is an evidence that Kim Jong-eun's defense minister was executed simply because he fell asleep at the meeting. Another minister, Kim Jong-eun personally burned with flamethrowers. But this is only a fraction of the horrors of repression, which North Korea keeps in a secret. The political structure of the country is certainly supported by the use of state terror, especially violent while Kim Jong-eun is a political leader.
North Korean political regime has all the features of totalitarianism. One of them, is the absence of political pluralism, the monopolization of power in the hands of one party, which is spliced with the state. The next important feature is ideocracy: the dominance of the ruling group is provided with the help of the official ideology, claiming the full embodiment of truth. Mass media is in exclusive possession of the state and perform administrative functions. Neglect of law is also a sign of totalitarianism. Focusing on the lumpen elements of society, the government has the authority, not limited by any law. The governance is based on the principle "everything is forbidden that is not allowed". Recruitment to the authorities through closed channels, excluding free competitive struggle for votes, is also a significant feature of North Korean totalitarian regime
Under the conditions of dictatorship, all power is concentrated in the hands of the elite, which is not responsible for the people. All non-democratic regimes are divided into two main types: totalitarian and authoritarian. A great number of different non-democratic regimes can be explained due to the fact that the political regime largely individualizes the form of a state. In the historical past, authoritarianism appeared in the form of tyranny, despotism, absolute monarchies, and in the form of various aristocratic regimes. In the modern world, personal and monarchical regime, as well as military dictatorship are possible. All of them are characterized by a certain level of political violence. For example, North Korean citizens suffer from totalitarian regimeб deprived of rights and freedoms.In some cases, people resist authoritarianism, and the so-called “Arab Spring” is the bright example of it. The effects of the "Arab Spring" are ambiguous. In some cases, the authoritarian regime was changed; in other cases, people's resistance was suppressed by political violence. However, this unique chain of events in the history of politics has changed the Arab world.