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Abstract:
The fates of some of the dictators to whom Bahá'u'lláh addressed his tablets, and the choices and constraints facing a political dictator in pursuing the objective of maximizing power.

The Prophecy of Bahá'u'lláh:
A Backward Bending Supply Curve Theorem

by Sathia Varqa

2006

Abstract

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.

1. Introduction

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”[1]. 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 message are:

(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[2]. These features form a cluster of interrelated traits and mutually support each other[3]. Dictatorial governments are those that see the whole society, economy, culture and personality as appropriate fields for governmental regulation[4], hence any deviation from the totalitarian regulation is treated with coercive power whether by punishing or transforming the beliefs, values and psychological predisposition[5] 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[6]. 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[7]. 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 onto power.

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 personal extravagance.

Each of them is considered briefly below.

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[8]. 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[9]. 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[10]. 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[11].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[12]. The education system was muzzled and made subservient to the government interest[13]. 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[14]. 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[15]. 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[16]. 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 III rule.

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[17]. 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[18]. 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[19].

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”[20], 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 mistaken…”[21]

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[22].

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[23].

In the war and aftermath several attempts were made by a liberal group known as ‘Will of the People[24]' 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.[25]

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[26].

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[27].

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[28].

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[29] and later by his brother Abdul Hamid II[30]. 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[31] especially during the intense reform period.

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[32] 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 himself[33].

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[34].

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[35]. 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'[36] 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[37].

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”[38]. 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”[39]. Prussia went to war against Denmark in 1864, attacked Austria in seven weeks in 1866 and in 1870 defeated France[40]. 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 benefit.

Bismarck flouted and manipulated five political parties[41] 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”[42].

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 and succeeded.

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[43]. 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'[44], 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[45] .

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 by Bahá'u'lláh.

2. Instruments of dictatorial power

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.

2.1 Totalitarian

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.

2.2 Tinpot

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 Philippines.

2.3 Tyrant

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.

2.4 Timocrat

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[46]. 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)[47]. 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 levels.

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 sanction.

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 backwards.

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...' [48]

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.' [49]

‘..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...'[50]

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 downfall.

3. Conclusion

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 to Tyrant

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.

4. References



[1] Summons of the Lord of the Host (2002), Bahá'í World Centre, Haifa, p.i

[2] Friedrich, C.J and Brzezinski, Z.K (1956) Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, p.9

[3] Ibid., p.9

[4] Kirkpatrick, J (1982) Dictatorships and Double Standards: Rationalism and Reason in Politics, Simon and Schuster Publication, New York, p.101

[5] Ibid., p.101

[6] Lee, S (1987) The European Dictatorships: 1918 – 1945, Methuen, London, p.ix

[7] Ibid., p.ix

[8] Ergang, R (1954) Europe since Waterloo, Heath and Company, Boston, p. 132

[9] Hazen, C. D (1910) Europe since 1815, G Bell and Sons Ltd, London, p. 205. ( 7,439, 216 voted in favour and only 640,737 voted against re-modelling of the constitution )

[10] Ibid., p.205

[11] Ibid., p.209

[12] Ibid., p.210

[13] Ergang, R, p.135

[14] Hazen, C. Dharles Downer (1910), p. 211

[15] Ergang, R, p.136

[16] For details of Napoleon motives for peace see, p. 294 of Grant, A.J and Temperley, Harold (1932) Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries : 1789 – 1932, Longmans Green and Co, London.

[17] Zakharova, L. G, (1996) Emperor Alexander II 1855 – 1881, p.296: Ch. in, ‘The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Ronamovs', M.E.Sharpe, New York

[18] Ibid., p.306 – 307 (About 9000 men were released from police surveillance)

[19] Riasanovsky, N (1993) A History of Russia, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 378

[20] Ibid., p.312

[21] Ibid., p.314

[22] Ibid., p.313

[23] Ibid., p.324

[24] Ibid., p.384

[25] Ibid., p.329

[26] Shaw, S. and Shaw, E. K (1977) History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Cambridge University Press Cambridge, p.70-71

[27] Ibid. p.133

[28] Ibid., p.155-156

[29] Ibid., p.163

[30] Miller, W (1966) The Ottoman Empire and Its Successors: 1801 – 1927, Frank Cass & Co Ltd, London, p. 368

[31] Abdülaziz was deposed by his ministers on May 30, 1876. Midhad Pasha, Mahmoud Pasha and Husein Pasha,

[32] Taylor, A.J.P (1954) From Napoleon to Stalin, Hamish Hamilton Ltd, London, p.69

[33] Redlich, J (1929) Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria: A Biography, MacMillan and Co Ltd, London, p. 235

[34] Robert, J.M (1967) Europe: 1880-1945, Longmans, London, p.192

[35] Ibid., p.70

[36] Ibid., p.193

[37] Ibid., p.67

[38] Ergang, R (1954) Europe since Waterloo, Heath and Company, Boston, p. 159

[39] Ibid., p.162

[40] Grant, A.J and Temperley, H (1932) Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries : 1789 – 1932, Longmans Green and Co, London, p.612 - 613

[41] The five parties are: (i) Conservative; (ii) Liberals; (iii) National Liberal Party (iv) Free Conservative Party and; (v) Centre Party.

[42] According to Geog von Bunsen in Ergang, R, p. 202

[43] Balfour, M (1964) The Kaiser and his times, The Cresset Press, London, Ch.1

[44] See Moojan Momen paper ‘The Religious Background of the 1979 Revolution in Iran' [online] Available at: http://www.momen.org/relstud/shia.htm

[45] Wintrobe, R (1998) The Political Economy of Dictatorship, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 33

[46] Ibid., p.90

[47] Gary Becker attempts to demonstrate the effect of altruistic giving using the Rotten Kid Theorem. See Becker. G (1974) A Theory of Social Interactions, Journal of Political Economy, Vol.82, p.1063-1093

[48] Summons of the Lord of the Host (2002), Surih to the Kings, Bahà'i World Centre, Haifa, p.189

[49] Ibid., p.189

[50] Ibid., p.189

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