How do you imagine violent dictatorship would look like?
If you imagine violent dictatorship means a majority of the population involved in mass marching, pogroms, and killing, you might be quite distant from the reality. This imagination is dangerous in two aspects. First, it’s due to the impression of how many people must be involved to declare the xenophobic violence was institutionalized. If xenophobic violence becomes out of control in a country, there are three basic groups in society.
The first group, in general, is against violence or ambivalent. This group represents the majority. The second group consists of people who hate for some reasons population from the edge. Their reasons could be varying, and it’s not possible to determine in general as unemployment, social group, social problems or education. It’s simply a group that projects their problems and fears on somebody else and these problems must be analyzed for every subgroup individually. This group is present in every country, and its size depends on some factors such as education, social status, and experience. The thirds group are individuals capable of direct action. Some of these individuals are much smaller than we expect in general single digit percentage of the population. Dangerous cocktail happens when they receive the silent support of “hater” group, and the first group remains passive.
It’s important to emphasize that both groups of “haters” and those capable of action are present in every country and their size is unchanged. Their appearance depends on actual preferences. What makes them active is the perception of their actions in society. We could use the example of organized crime in 20th Century in Eastern Europe and Slovakia. During the years, several individuals took over the streets and towns. Those individuals unprecedented and without control were committing crime, violence, blackmailing and murders. There was just very negligible opposition to them. However, they declared later if somebody stood against them at the beginning, they would never gain such power. It’s all about perception and acceptance at the society. If one gain certain power and capacity to threaten, the opposition stays passive. The situation is same in the case of violence motivated by xenophobia. Few individuals are capable of committing xenophobic violence; moreover these are the same individuals that are attracted to organized crime. These individuals had same behavior before the social media era only that they did not have the same opportunity to contact, present, and communicate. These individuals have a preference towards violence, and the only question of approach is based on what ideology they will commit the violence. The main lesson is that there is no mass movement proportionally to whole public capable of committing violence. The main shortcoming on the part of the population is tolerating or ignoring the majority.
Secondly, the threatening aspect is the final stage of concentration camps or genocide. Institutionalized violence has various forms of making certain citizens life complicated as becoming 2nd class citizens, marked as the enemies of the state, lack help or become victims of institutions. The question is, why the persecuted minority did not leave the country? The answer is simple; they did not know how serious the situation was. It’s hard to assess how far we are from final stage — “genocide.” There are other partial discriminatory measures before genocide and victims have the impression it’s just a temporary state that will end soon. This is the case often, but if not the consequences are catastrophic.
Another question is why the discriminated citizens did not do any action? It’s important to emphasize that xenophobic forces are continuously present and it’s up to the political leaders to keep forces of “good” and “evil” in balance. Sometimes people and politics become tired or start to use populist rhetoric addressing “hate” group. In this case, an authoritative xenophobic system can arise with one single leader. Meanwhile looking for the appropriate answer does not have one solution several leaders can form repelling forces against one strong force.
How could it end? We had a strong period of peace and security in 21st Century that was an anomaly. What we are living now is repeating standard. The Situation could escalate to very nasty events. Police and institution could be abused against political opponents. “The others” could become victims of violent attacks and state institutions would not be motivated to help them. But we should not fall into apocalyptic scenarios. The same “hate” group that supports the xenophobic authority to rise will destroy them in a while. In some time, the same group will start hate and blame xenophobic authorities for their misfortune and problems. That time someone else will use the moment and approach the silent and “haters” group. Youths which is a moving force will learn that freedom and security are not given by births but must be fought for. It’s highly probable their children will make the same mistake. But this is currently part of our civilization cycle.