The purpose of this paper is to explore the
downfall of some of the dictators to whom Bahá'u'lláh addressed His Tablets.
The subject is explored using a framework to identify the choices and constraints
facing a political dictator in pursuing the objective of maximising power. The
framework is a simple model based on Wintrobe model of dictatorship. The model
shows how repression and loyalty interact in maximising power. The study considers
the political behaviour of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte III, Czar Alexander II, Sultan
Abdul Aziz, Emperor Francis Joseph and King Wilhelm I. The paper is able to show
that each of these dictators failed to consider two constraints highlighted by
Bahá'u'lláh in His Tablets, they are (i) the fear of God and (ii) the will of
the people. The model is able to demonstrate the consequence to dictators when
the will of the people is not considered in exercising their power. The consequence
is depicted in a simple graph that shows the supply of loyalty curve bending
backwards and reducing the amount of loyalty to the dictator.
In the period of Bahá'u'lláh's
arrival in Adrianople, the Guardian remarked that the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh
was at “its meridian glory”.
The “meridian glory” of the Bahá'u'lláhs Revelation is manifested through the
potency of His messages to the kings and rulers of the world during the late
19th century. The two aims of Bahá'u'lláhs message are: (i) to summon
the kings and rulers to recognise His manifestation and; (ii) to warn them against
the injustices heaped upon their subjects.
Bahá'u'lláh wrote a total of five
tablets addressed to the monarchs and leaders of the world. In this messages
Bahá'u'lláh summoned the monarchs of the East and West collectively and some
individually to adhere to these two aims. The Tablet and the recipient of Bahá'u'lláhs
(i) The Suriy-i-Haykal / Surih
of the Temple is a composite work that consists of messages addressed to five
individual potentates. They are (a) Pope Pius IX, (b) Napoleon III (c) Czar Alexander
II (d) Queen Victoria and (e) Násiri'd-Dín Sháh.
(ii) Suriy-i-Muluk / Surih to
the Kings is a Tablet addressed collectively to the entire company of the monarchs
of East and West.
(iii) Suriy-I-Rais addressed to
Ali Pasha, the Ottoman Prime Minister.
(iv) Lawh-i-Fuad addressed to
the Ottoman Minister.
(v) Lawh-i-Rais which condemns
the character of the Ottoman Ministry makes some reference to Ali Pasha, the
Ottoman Prime Minister.
In this paper, I am interested
in considering the political behaviour of five dictators who received Bahá'u'lláh's
message. The five dictators are Louis Napoleon Bonaparte III of France, Czar
Alexander II of Russia, Sultan Abdul Aziz of the Ottoman Empire, Emperor Francis
Joseph of Austria-Hungary and King Wilhelm I of Prussia.
I refer to each of these rulers
as dictators, because of the characteristics they manifested during their reign.
The basic features of a dictator according to Friedrich and Brzezinski (1965)
are: (i) the proclamation of ideology covering vital aspects of man's existence;
(ii) a single party typically led by one man; (iii) a system of terroristic police
control; (iv) a communication monopoly such as press, radio and television; (v)
monopoly over weapons i.e. having the means to command effective armed combat
and; (vi) able to centrally direct the economy through bureaucratic co-ordination.
These features form a cluster of interrelated traits and mutually support each
other. Dictatorial governments are those that see
the whole society, economy, culture and personality as appropriate fields for
governmental regulation, hence any deviation from the totalitarian regulation
is treated with coercive power whether by punishing or transforming the beliefs,
values and psychological predisposition of
the deviants. The rulers to whom Bahá'u'lláh wrote His messages possessed all
or some of these qualities.
Dictatorship is not a modern term.
During the Roman Republic exceptional powers were given by the Senate to individual
dictators like Sulla and Julius Caesar. The purpose of giving the dictatorial
power is to take swift and effective action to deal with an emergency. This means short term suspension
of the democratic process for a quick decision. However the meaning of the term
has evolved and changed since Roman times. The essential characteristic of the
modern dictator is power; an emergency is not necessarily required.
The literature on dictatorship offers various convincing definitions and characteristics
with little significant variations in the term.
The aim of this research paper
is to: (i) explore the instruments of dictatorial power and; (ii) to explore
the consequence of these dictators.
Freedom is what distinguishes
between an autocratic and democratic regime. The quality of civil liberty and
political rights is an important determinant of richness of human life. A dictator
in an autocratic regime destroys these rights.
Dictator's advance their power
by: insulating themselves from political backlash when pursuing reform programmes;
stifling opposition voices on alternative path of growth; vigorous enforcement
of selected economic policies; excessive use of resources to serve personal interest
and; vigorous monitoring of any cheating in the system. These are some of the
justifications offered by dictators in order to bring rapid economic growth and
ultimately to stay in power.
Modern authoritarian governments
justify their power by attempting to pursue economic growth by using the dictatorial
traits described. In comparison, the dictators in the 19th century
justified their power by conquest and overexpansion of new land. This is certainly
the case of Napoleon Bonaparte III, Emperor Francis Joseph, Czar Alexander II,
and King Wilhelm I. Each of them attempted to embark on expansion of geographical
territory in order to show to their subjects, their worth and status in holding
The attempts to achieve economic
prosperity in the modern age and the struggle for conquest of new land in the
past centuries are examples of how dictators seek status and justify power for
themselves. The status seeking game whether it's through economic reform or going
to a battle is pursued by constricting the freedom of its people.
The leaders and rulers to whom
Bahá'u'lláh wrote letters proclaiming His message and warning on their excessive
use of power in the 1860s also had to balance between freedom of its people and
various political and economic reforms they embarked. They did this by using
the instruments of loyalty and repression. All of the five dictators considered
in this paper had to calibrate the optimisation of repression, loyalty and their
Each of them is considered briefly
1.1 Napoleon III
Napoleon reined the Second Empire
of France from 1850 to 1870. The Second Empire falls into two parts. They are
the period of dictatorship from 1852 to 1860 and a period of growing liberalism
from 1860 to 1870 when the Empire declined and eventually collapsed.
Napoleon understood to need to
win the hearts of the population in order to win power and reign over them. Even
before he was accorded to the high office, he would win the loyalty of the people
by visiting, feasting and speechmaking. He bestowed lavish gifts, staged series
of banquets for officers, distributes champagnes, sausages and cigars to the
men in ranks. In return the troops were encouraged to shout “Vive Napoleon” when
he passed. He also accumulated
loyalty from the Roman Catholic Church by supporting the Church control over
education and protected the interest of the pope by military means. By 1851 Napoleon
was confident in using the loyalty accumulated to demand for universal suffrage
which gave him the opportunity to pose as the champion of the rights of the people.
On his failure in obtaining the
demand for universal suffrage, he decided on a coup d'etat. He secretly organised
measures to contain any potential uprising and carried out the coup with skill
and precision. He succeeded in occupying the seat of the Presidency, this time
by bloodless coup. Later he appealed to the people for re-modelling the constitution,
which he won overwhelmingly. He changed the Presidential term in the constitution and a
year later held election to justify his rule. All those who appeared dangerous
to the new President were either transported, exiled or imprisoned.
The referendum was neither fair nor the issue simple. Napoleon established himself
as the Emperor and brought the return of imperial rule to France. Napoleon established
the control over legislation, taxation, defence, treaties, commerce and the full
power of pardon. His power penetrated into every high office.All political life outside the channel of
the state was paralyzed. In short the Emperor was the State.
All these accentuated the autocracy
of the state. The Emperor repressed the media by requiring preliminary permission
for new journals. A law was made for the media to deposit 50,000 francs so that
any articles disagreeable to the government were not printed. The education system was muzzled and made
subservient to the government interest. The Napoleon government repressed
the republican societies by breaking and driving them underground.
All these repressive measures
were followed with economic progress. Napoleon's government was repressive of
any powers that opposed his regime but was willing in promoting any material
advancement that will strengthen the empire. Despite the repressions and the
extravagance court life with his newly wed wife, Napoleon paid detail attention
to accumulating loyalty by reaching out to the masses, he founded hospitals and
asylums freely and relief societies for the poor.
During the dictatorial period from 1852 to 1860, France experienced positive
economic results. France expanded its railway lines, rebuilt the capital city,
the first investment bank was established, the number of navigable canals doubled,
fine boulevards were built and the merchant navy improved and the population
had more employment opportunities compared to any other period in France. Even the labourers were given the right to
strike to better their conditions. The material advancement was exhibited in
the Great Exhibition to the world in Paris in 1855. In 1856, Napoleon was at
the prime of his power.
Despite the economic might achieved
under his successful dictatorship, Napoleon was inspired by his uncle's (Napoleon
I) victories and conquest. He adopted aggressive policies and engaged in the
Crimean War. The Crimean War made the Napoleonic regime really popular. At the
end of the War he hosted the peace congress and boasted of his triumph in having
his capacity to influence European leaders.
Napoleon was not content, this
time he wanted to seek the independence and national unity for Italy from Austria.
He conscripted with the Italians. But when the short and bloody war broke out,
Napoleon withdrew from the war after colluding with Francis Joseph of Austria. His intervention and disloyalty
in the war damaged his reputation and enraged the views of the clerics in France
and he alienated the support of the liberals by abruptly shifting his support
from Italy to Austria. This marked the decline of the autocratic Napoleon Empire.
His disastrous Mexican adventure and lost of loyalty from the Catholic and conservative
elements at home, propelled the liberals to usher in the Liberal Empire. From
1860 onwards he gradually introduced several political and press freedom to appease
the liberals. When the Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870, it shattered the
fabric of the empire and forced the imperial family into exile, ending Napoleon
1.2 Czar Alexander II
Upon ascending to the throne,
Czar Alexander II was determined to find a new approach to rein Russia. Russia
emerged from the Crimean War exhausted with depleted finances and a ruined monetary
structure. Alexander II recognised
the weakness of Russia and sought ways to appeal to those at the top and the
general population. The reforms embarked by Alexander II were an attempt to give
some freedom to the people. The reforms included lifting of ban on printed word,
abolition of the restraints imposed on the universities, authorisation to travel
abroad, authorisation to create joint stock companies and firms, encouragement
to expand foreign trade ties and amnesty for the liberal political prisoners
like the Decembrists and Petrashevtsy. The scope of reforms on paper was ambitious.
The main accomplishment of the reform was the land reform. The other reforms
were zemstvo system (local government) and the legal system. Despite winning
the loyalty of the peasants by distributing land from landowners to the peasants,
the real goal of Alexander II was not to improve the life of the subjects but
to further strengthen the empire. This is because the state did not invest a
single ruble in the peasant reforms. More than one third of the budget was devoted
on military spending and the redemption payment was so ruinous to the peasantry.
The Great reforms went a long way but Czar remained an autocracy.
Alexander II, reacted to those
unhappy with the amount and slowness of the redemption payments by commanding
them to obey the authorities. The Czars autocratic policies reflected his patriachical
attitude toward the people when he said “You are my children, and I am your father
and pray to God for you, as I do for all those who are, like you close to my
heart”, in 1863 to a group
who had come to petition the Czar. In a conversation with Otto von Bismarck in
response to a question on possibility of liberal institutions in Russia, Alexander
II said “The people see their monarch as God's envoy, as their father and all-powerful
master. This idea, which has the force almost of religious, feeling, is inseparable
from their personal dependency on me, and I am inclined to think that I am not
The reforms were pursued with
a combination of autocratic and hatred of the mounting trend of liberalism. His
irritation grew to the extent where he crushed the advocates of serfdom and closed
down the liberal Editing Commissions. The Czar reshuffled the ministry and held
an autocratic grip on the internal affairs, public education and the council
of ministers. The Czar strongly resisted the call for drafting of constitution
from the nobles who had lost their land in the peasant reform and liberation
movements in Poland and Finland.
His famous statement of ‘Stop
dreaming' to the Polish population in 1856 only led to uprising and five years
later and reforms were designed to restore autonomy in Poland. The Polish liberal
movements were not satisfied and their influence spread to the northwest provinces
of Poland, which Alexander II suppressed in the 1863 uprising.
Alexander II imperial ambition
required substantial expenditure on the military. This had severe financial strain
on the state budget. Military expenditure constituted one third of the country's
budget. His ministers attempted to convince him that the military expenditure
is weighing down the state budget and would be necessary to stop the excessive
expenditure. Alexander II was warned that the financial disarray would halt the
development of the civil and economic initiatives of the empire and create conditions
fertile for revolutions. However the imperial ambition prevailed on the day.
In the war and aftermath several
attempts were made by a liberal group known as ‘Will of the People' on the life of Alexander II. Terror became
the principal means and the Czar the principal target. The Czar isolated and
changed his itineraries fearing for his life, until finally he was killed in
a bomb attack.
1.3 Sultan Abdul Aziz
Ottoman Empire under Sultan Abdul
Aziz was largely tolerant of non-Muslims, however it did not prevent the occasional
discriminatory practices, as highlighted by the decree on Bahá'u'lláh s exile.
The Sultan continued the political and economic reform started by Sultan Mahmut
II. The reforms of Tanzimat-I Hayriye (Auspicious Reorderings) initiated by Mahmut
II lasted from 1839 to the end of Sultan Abdul Aziz reign in 1876. It extended
the scope of Ottoman government the right and duty to regulate all aspects of
life by moving away from purely traditional reform. The reforms were led by Mahmut
II sons, Abdulmecit I (1839 - 1861) and Abdul Aziz (1861 – 1876) to whom
Bahá'u'lláh warned of his material excesses. The Ottoman Chief Ministers Fuad
Pasha and Ali Pasha played an important role in this reform to arrest the decline
of the Empire. The reforms included establishment of council of state, founding
of a new university, the promulgation of Ottoman civil code and a centralised
government. The key balancing force in the Tanzimat politics are the palace,
army, the legislative and consultative council (Porte) and foreign embassies.
These reforms did not stop the
economic decline of the empire. During the Tanzimat period there were the rising
members of the generally known as Young Ottoman who, opposed the repressive autocratic
behaviour of the Men of Tanzimat. The Young Ottoman pressed for individual right
from arbitrary government action. The Young Ottoman succeeded in establishing
the Constitution and Parliament in 1876 and again in 1908. These were because
of the direct result of the agitation of the Young Ottomans.
The reforms of Tanzimat led to
increase in expenditures and this hit chronic budget deficit after 1864. Abdul
Aziz extravagance on new warship, rifles, palaces and lavish gifts and the mounting
state expenditure coupled with large foreign borrowing at exorbitant rates of
interest and discount led to financial chaos of the Empire from 1871 onwards.
Added to this, the public discontent
following the Softas (religious schools) demonstration and Abdul Aziz continued
desire to hold on power with extravagance brought him in conflict with the ministry
and caused the loss of loyalty from his trusted ministers.
All these events culminated in
a rebellion that deposed the Sultan, by his disloyal ministers. Abdul Aziz was
succeeded by Murat V and
later by his brother Abdul Hamid II.
The failure of the Sultan to monitor dissent, accumulate and reward loyalty eventually
led to his downfall. The Sultan lacked the skill of optimizing loyalty, repression
and personal indulgence which lead to his eventual downfall especially during the intense
1.4 Francis Joseph
On the other hand, Francis Joseph,
the Emperor of Austria-Hungary Dual monarchy reigned during a period of rapid
growth whilst civil liberties were not curtailed. Though growth was experienced
with the process of rapid industrialization, expansion of the railway network
and urbanization particularly with Vienna as the cultural capital of the Empire
during the 68 years of his reign, Francis Joseph set no mark on it.
From the day of his coronation,
he turned himself into an institution. He invested anything for the sake of the
dynasty and expected others to do so. The repressive Court life was extreme that
it even drove Francis Joseph's own son, Rudolph to commit suicide. In fact Francis
Joseph would use autocratic power and dismiss his ministers on rumour of failure.
The two main dismissals during his reign were (i) Taaffe, the Prime Minister
of Austria for fourteen years who was dismissed without explanation and (ii) Beck, the Chief of
Staff for thirty years was dismissed abruptly.
Francis Joseph made no attempt
to win the hearts of the population in general. He appealed only to a segment
of the society and repressed the liberals. Francis Joseph's idea of autocracy
is that he should be informed about everything so that he could decide everything
The Emperor accumulated loyalty
from the Church by granting the Catholic Church a privileged position in the
state, thus winning the close alliance with Pope Pius IX. Political friction
in the vast Empire was in constant flux despite the economic growth, especially
between the liberal ambitions of national movement and the Crown ambition to
hold on to the privileges of the Crown. The Emperors greatest hatred was for
liberal movements. There was the resistance to the issue of Germanizing policies
in the Empire. Divergence between the upper-class German and lower-class Czech,
led Czechs to mass demonstration. Repression against the minority Czechs were
common in Prague.
The Emperor had to balance between
the opposing tendencies in the territories like the Magyars aristocrats and the
Reichsrath liberal groups with the privileges of the Crown. The deal with Magyars
eventually led to compromise with the territories in 1867 which resulted in power
sharing between the Magyars and the dynasty.
Behind the facade of economic
growth and cultural vibrancy, the Emperor's ‘mission' was to device a way in
which Hungarian landowners and German capitalist can grow rich from the labour
of the lesser people. It
was these two groups of people that the Emperor drew his loyalty in addition
to the Church.
In order to pursue the Emperor
ambition of maintaining dynastic power, he would use any means of sustaining
the Empire. The geographical spread of the empire and mushrooming of liberal
groups meant the dynastic policy had to be maintained by ‘equilibrium of discontent' with the support of the great
nobles and the localities through the bureaucrat and the army.
Francis Joseph fought two wars,
in the first he lost his Italian territories; in the second he lost to the Germans;
in the third one which he did not live to see, everything was lost.
1.5 King Wilhelm I
King Wilhelm I, King of Prussia
from 1871 to 1888 had little love for the liberals. On the day of his crowning,
King Wilhelm I said “I receive this crown from the hands of God”. His ambition to reassert the might of Prussia
using a large army was success. Given King Wilhelm I was 74 years old at the
time of the founding of the new Empire in January 1871, the King gave his chancellor
considerable freedom in directing the affairs of the state. Bismarck skilfully
steered the ambitions of the empire.
The appointment of Bismarck was
a direct challenge to the liberals in the Prussian Assembly. Upon his appointment,
Bismarck remarked that he would not permit ‘a sheet of paper', referring to the
constitution on the reform of the military as proposed by the ministers. He proclaimed
his ambition for the future of Prussia where he declared “look not to the liberalism
of Prussia, but to its power…The great questions of time cannot be solved by
speeches and parliamentary majorities…but by blood and iron”.
Prussia went to war against Denmark in 1864, attacked Austria in seven weeks
in 1866 and in 1870 defeated France. Bismarck's aspirations were
supported by the heavy industrialist who in return favoured protectionist policy
toward their industry. The industrialist generously supplied loyalty for the
Bismarck flouted and manipulated
five political parties and
the public for years to get his way through, until he became the most hated figure
in Germany. He did not attempt to gain loyalty through these political parties
and never allied himself to any party. His loyalty was to the King. Bismarck's
approach to creating prosperity and happiness was dependent on his authority
and made this clear to the various institutions. His authoritative style achieved
the ambition of united Germany in less than nine years. In doing so Bismarck
compelled the Germans to sacrifice liberalism for the sake of greater unity.
In achieving his aim, “he made Germany great and the Germans small”.
Bismarck repressed the left, dissolved
the parliament and divided the opposition to achieve the aims of unification.
By using these repressive policies Bismarck embarked on his agenda of unification
During this period Germany experience
rapid economic growth and become the leading industrial superpower. This spectacular
achievement was against the backdrop of suppression of the Catholics for opposing
the ‘Kulturkampf' (‘cultural fight'), state control of marriages; control over
appointment of priests; ban on local language and; ban on the Socialist Democratic
Party (SDP) meetings and newspapers. These repressive policies were followed by
generous welfare support to appease the working class in order to draw the loyalty
for the newly created state. Bismarck continued to wield his power even after
his sacking in 1879.
The dictators in each of the case
discussed above suffer from dilemma. The dilemma stems from the dictators uncertainty
on what is actually in the mind of the population. Is the population pretending
to love the dictator because of fear of repression or do they love him/her because
of the showering benevolence of the ruler. The relationship between the dictator
and the population is never transparent in an autocratic political system. This
‘vacuum effect' is created by the bureaucratic machine, biased media and judiciary
under the authority of the dictator. The bureaucracy may fear retaliation in
reporting bad news, hence it filters the bad reports and only informs the dictator
of the news he/she wants to hear. In return the dictator never knows the approximate
extent to which the public approve or disapprove of his/her rule. Hence it makes
the members unwilling to report harmful but truthful information, because of
fear of retaliation. The problem of not knowing what the population really think
is the cause of the ‘information deficit' surrounding the dictator. This deficit
is caused by a disjunction between the private beliefs and publicly expressed
opinions of the citizens. This is one reason why revolutions or political re-actions
are fundamentally unpredictable, like the Iranian Revolution in January 1979,
which happened ‘out of blue',
the unanticipated Beirut crowd of 500,000 people in support of the Hezbollah,
the Ukrainian show of solidarity for a pro-western presidential candidate, the
Tiananmen Square protest of 1989 in China, the downfall of Suharto in Indonesia
in May 1998 after 32 years of authoritarian rule and the celebratory scenes in
May 2003 when the statue of Saddam Hussein was torn down to the delight of Iraqis.
These events are collective expression of private beliefs about the dictator
when freedom is realised.
The brief discussion on these
five case studies illustrate that although the political behaviour of each of
the autocrat ruler varies when presented with the dictator dilemma, nevertheless
they display similar strategies in building exchange relations between themselves
(dictator) and their subjects. These strategies can be collectively be grouped
into two classes, they are repression and loyalty .
The next section will discuss
these two instruments and highlight some salient facts. The model offers an interesting
hypothesis on the decline and eventual collapse of the empires as prophesised
2. Instruments of dictatorial
The dictator is constantly in
a state of flux between accumulating loyalty and dispensing repression. This
is clearly demonstrated by these five dictators. Loyalty is generated by the
dictator in extending political and economic opportunities to his or her loyal
lieutenants. The dictator gives influence by providing privileges and economic
opportunities to his/her supporters. The dictator in return receives the loyalty
of the client plus the financial benefit (through formal and informal means)
in return for the opportunities provided. In this dyadic relationship loyalty
between the dictator and the supporters are generated.
Repression on the other hand is
restriction on the right of the citizens to criticise the government, restriction
on the freedom of the press, restriction on the rights of the opposition parties
to campaign against the government or the prohibition of groups and association
opposed to the government. To make repressions effective monitoring of the population
for any dissent are vigorously implemented. Some of the mechanisms used to counter
any opposing tendencies are: the SAVAK secret police in Iran during the reign
of the Shah; the secret police during the Napoleon rule of France and Czar Alexander
II; the SCORPION paramilitary unit in Former Yugoslavia Republic and; the excessive
exercise of surveillance in Mobutu's Zaire are all examples of monitoring and
sanctions for disobedience.
Hence the quantity of loyalty
and repression does not necessarily fulfil the ambition of the dictator to stay
in power or maximise power. Therefore different levels of loyalty and repression
determine different types of dictators. There are four types of dictators classified
according to the level of repression and loyalty used. They are totalitarian,
tinpot, tyrant and timocracy.
The aim of a totalitarian dictator
is to maximise power. Totalitarian dictatorship is characterised by total government
intervention into the social and economic lives of the people. This intervention
is motivated by utopian goals. These utopian goals may vary among the totalitarian
dictators. This kind of dictatorship is exemplified by contemporary Iran under
the Ayatollahs, Cambodia during the reign of Pol Pot and Nazi Germany. Totalitarians
indulge in both repression and loyalty to maximize power.
Tinpots aim to maximise their
personal wealth. Tinpots are dictators where the ruling government do not intervene
very much into the life of the people, it represses them only to a modest extent
necessary to stay in power in order to maximise personal wealth or consumption.
Tinpots seek to minimize the cost of spending on repression and loyalty. They
do not spend as much as totalitarians on repression or generation of loyalty.
Tinpots are happy with the minimum level of power required to maintain in office,
using the rest of the state resources to his or her own purposes (Mercedes Benzes,
Swiss bank account, etc). Tinpots are exemplified by rulers like the last Shah
of Iran, Middle Eastern hereditary rulers such as the Saudi Arabian government
established by Ibn Saud, Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua and Ferdinand Marcos of
Tyrants like totalitarians aim
to maximise power, but they cannot or do not rely upon institutions to generate
widespread loyalty. Hence the level of loyalty is lower in tyrannical regimes
than in totalitarian regimes. Tyrants are characterized by high levels of repression
and low public support. Tyrants build support by monopolising state resources
and channelling the wealth into institutions outside the country. Tyrants are
not interested in pursuing economic growth as a means to build support. Tyrants
resort to build their political support by distributing gifts to the people and
through foreign conquest.
The final type of dictator is
a timocrat. A timocrat is a benevolent dictator who is characterised by altruism.
A timocrat styles himself/herself as the ‘father' of the people, generously giving
for the welfare of the people. The motive of this generous giving could be to
establish property rights of the emperor over the resources of the state and
creating barriers to entry to political office.
However the giving could be for genuine altruistic reason as suppose to self-seeking.
A timocrat political behaviour can be analysed as an altruistic parent interacting
with a selfish kid (the people).
The timocrat like any dictator will use the instrument of repression; this is
because a timocrat faces three main constraints. They are: (i) the necessity
to hold onto power. If the timocrat allow power to fall below the minimum that
which is required to stay in office, the timocrat will be deposed by a more powerful
dictator. (ii) The timocrat knows of the disincentive effects of giving gifts
to the people. The effect of giving gift will turn the people lazy and give rise
to competition where individuals and groups compete to convince the dictator
of their worth in receiving the largesse. (iii) Given the timocrat displays generosity
by distributing wealth, the timocrat position becomes attractive to others to
gain access to the wealth. Hence the timocrat position becomes more of a threat
the more the timocrat is generous.
The four different types of dictators
above use different levels of repression and loyalty to achieve their objective.
The dictators to whom Bahá'u'lláh wrote His messages also used varying level
of repression and loyalty.
A dictator has to face trade-off
between repression and loyalty. Although dictators have formal political power,
they do not have monopoly of power in the country. Dictator faces opposition
in the form of potential alternatives to the government. If the sanctions are
not high, citizens will form liberal groups to demand freedom and rights as demonstrated
in the case of all of the five dictators.
Each citizen faces a choice of
whether to support or oppose the tinpot regime. The citizen decision is based
on expected rate of return and their risk in either choosing to support or oppose
the regime. A change in the riskiness or in the rate of return will lead the
citizen to change his or her choices. The choice that a citizen exercises will
have two effects on the supply of loyalty to the dictator. They are (i) the concern
effect and; (ii) the obsessive effect
(i) Concern effect
The ‘concern effect' is when the
dictator represses the opposition as a matter of concern to his/her grip on power.
This means citizens who speak
out against the government, demonstrate against it and so on are essentially
offering their loyalty to some alternative policy. In our cases this is demonstrated
by the Young Ottomans who posed opposition to the Sultan Abdul Aziz, the Decembrist
and the ‘Will of the People' who opposed the autocracy of Alexander II and the
Reichsrath liberal group who opposed Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary. In order
to suppress these liberal groups, the dictators had to increase their repression
Whether the increase in repression
is by increasing the range of policing or in the size of sanctions imposed on
those caught engaging with the opposition; the risk of associating with the liberal
groups increases, hence there will be fewer people joining or associating themselves
with the liberal groups (or any other opposition groups).
In return the citizen attractiveness
in dealing with the opposition decreases and the relative importance of dealing
with the dictator increases. This will favour the regime by increasing the loyalty
supplied. This means as the level of repression rises the level of loyalty will
also rise, hence showing an upward sloping curve.
ii) Obsessed effect
The ‘obsessed effect' works in
the opposite direction. An increase in repression either increases the likelihood
of that individual will be a victim of a sanction or it increases the size of
The fact that the regime is obsessed
with any opposition will make any individuals to reduce their investment in political
loyalty to the regime and to any opposition. This will happen even though the
citizens are loyal for most of the part. At low levels of repression this effect
will be small for most individuals. In other words when the repression levels
are low, the likelihood of an individual being a victim of sanction will be low.
The Czar Alexander II repression
of the Polish liberal would obviously reduce their loyalty to the regime however
when the level of repression continues obsessively to the extent where even those
outside these groups are repressed, the level of loyalty will diminish from the
whole population in the empire. This will cause the loyalty curve to start bending
If the ‘concern effect' dominates
the ‘obsessive effect' then, it seems reasonable to assume the supply curve of
loyalty to the dictator will be positively related as depicted in Graph 1.
On the other hand if the probability
of being detected for having links with the opposition increases or the size
of the sanctions increases then the ‘obsessive effect' will dominate the ‘concern
effect'. This means the dictators is now obsessive with any opposition activities.
When the obsessive effect gets
larger and larger, this will reduce the level of loyalty from all the subjects
to the regime. For example Napoleon III was obsessed with going to war in order
to increase his level of loyalty. He succeeded the first time in the Crimean
War. However his misadventure in seeking for independence for the Italians reduced
Napoleon III credibility. This is when the supply of loyalty to Napoleon III
starts bending backwards and gradually the subjects pledge their allegiance to
another regime (opposition). The level of loyalty towards Napoleon is so low
that when he lost the Franco-Prussian war, Napoleon was quickly deposed.
According to the graph below,
all of the five dictators increased their power by increasing the level of repression
because they were concerned about their power. Bahá'u'lláh in His messages warned
them that their concern for power will eventually become their obsession and
will cause their downfall.
Graph.1 Shows the concern and obsessed effect of a dictator
The obsessive scramble for power
among these dictators is manifested through their excessive expenditure on armaments
and the hatred among the general population towards the autocratic regime. Bahá'u'lláh
warns them in the following words in the Surih to the Kings.
‘If ye pay no heed unto the
counsels which, in peerless and unequivocal language, We have revealed in this
Tablet, Divine chastisement shall assail you from every direction, and the sentence
of His justice shall be pronounced against you. On that day ye shall have no
power to resist Him, and shall recognize your own impotence. Have mercy on yourselves
and on those beneath you, and judge ye between them according to the precepts
prescribed by God in His most holy and exalted Table...' 
In another passage Bahá'u'lláh
explicitly warns the rulers and leaders against accumulation of armaments.
‘We have learned that ye are
increasing your outlay every year, and are laying the burden thereof on your
subjects. This, verily is more that the can bear, and is a grievous injustice.
Decide ye justly between men, O kings, and be ye the emblems of justice amongst
them. This, if ye judge fairly, is the thing that behoveth you, and beseemeth
your station.' 
‘..Rest not on your power,
your armies and treasures. Put your whole confidence in God, Who hath created
you, and seek ye His help in all your affairs...'
All of these dictators were warned
and appealed to exercise their power with justice. Each of these dictators failed
to adhere to the message of Bahá'u'lláh and when the dictators were faced with
an increasing opposition, their attempt to hold onto power became obsessive and
caused the supply of loyalty curve to bend backwards, hence decreasing the level
of loyalty at very high level of repression. This is what ultimately caused their
All the dictators's to whom Bahá'u'lláh
addressed His messages, relied heavily on the army to carry out their personal
decree. Napoleon III relied exclusively on the army, King Wilhelm I increased
the expenditure of the on the army, Nicholas I and Alexander II gave the army
pride of place and Francis Joseph extended his military omnipotence and Sultan
Abdul Aziz expanded the warships and ammunition stocks. All the monarchs of Europe
had for centuries been autocrats. Each of them were out of step with the way
Bahá'u'lláh had commanded. When their power weakened they found allies, their
reaction was to resist rather than compromise, they were dominated by fear and
closed to rational arguments, they belittled the value of democracy, their spending
in military was excessive and they all made mockery of individual freedom.
From the discussion above on the
dictator model, we can conclude that the dictators to whom Bahá'u'lláh wrote
His letters fall into one of the categories proposed by Wintrobe (1998). The
list below shows the dictator and their type in using the two instruments of
loyalty and repression.
Napoleon III – Totalitarian
Czar Alexander II – From
Timocracy to Tyrant
King Wilhelm I – Tyrant
Sultan Abdul Aziz – Tinpot
Francis-Joseph – Totalitarian
Each of these dictators failed
to understand that no matter how powerful they are, their power were constrained
by the Will of God and the people. Not only did Bahá'u'lláh warn them of the
Fear of God but informed them of the Will of the people, which all these leaders
fail to comprehend. The consequences faced by these dictators can be analysed
as a demonstration of the Power of the Word.