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Dictatorships in Europe, again?

Jul 14, 2009
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Why were there so many dictators by coups in power in the 1920's and 30's?

Benito Mussolini of Italy in 1922
Miguel Primo de Rivera of Spain in 1923
Aleksandar Tsankov of Bulgaria in 1923
Josef Stalin of the USSR in 1924 and
António Óscar Carmona of Portugal in 1926
Józef Piłsudski of Poland in 1926
Antanas Smetona of Lithuania in 1926
Theodoros Pangalos of Greece in 1926
Konstantin Päts of Estonia in 1933
Kimon Georgiev of Bulgaria in 1934 and
Francisco Franco of Spain in 1936.

It's just like the frequent coups that occured in the later years, like in the 60's, 70's and 80's in Latin America, Asia and Africa now.

Coups usually happen because the countries are unstable, especially in poverty driven Africa and Asia and the Americas in the early cold-war years.

Did these coups in Europe occur because of WWI somehow and cause them to be unstable.

And could this happen again in Europe with the financial crisis?

I think it could.
nah, the EU and UN would prevent that, and the financial crisis is no where near as bad as the depression that lead to the previous dictators.
You cant compre the 60s to 80s in Latin America and Asia and Africa with Europe in the 20s and 30s.

For one most of those coups happened during the boom year and before the great depression. Also there was a dictatorship in the USSR long before Stalin.

Secondly Europe was changing at the start of the 20th century, by moving away from monarchies to democracies. The early part of the 20th century saw a surge in the birth of different political ideas. On top of that for the first time in history both sexes became politically active.

And then most important, this period also saw the start of the end of the idea of Empire (well for most). The British and French Empires saw the first sign's of massive decline and unsuitability. Also we saw old grand empires of Portugal and Spain finally fall.

For the most part, other than Germany after WW1, most of the coups did not happen due to an economic crisis. Also Europe´s financial crisis is so over blown by the anglo-american media, especially when compared to the US or UK.

So no it could not happen...times have changed, political stability has been around for generations and the age old animosities between nations are all but gone.
nah, the EU and UN would prevent that, and the financial crisis is no where near as bad as the depression that lead to the previous dictators.

The depression started in 1929.... most of the coups on the list... long before..
World War I was a big reason for the rise in dictatorship in Europe. Communism was on the rise, 4 empires had been destroyed, and millions of people had just died for little if any apparent reason. The economy boomed in the US and much of Western Europe, but much of Europe hadn't really recovered after the war. The massive change in political boundaries in Eastern Europe and protectionism disrupted trade, especially in former Austria-Hungary. It shook many people's faith in progress and democracy. Also, many of the new nations had little experience with governance and went into chaos. Dictators were a seemingly welcome alternative.
nah, the EU and UN would prevent that, and the financial crisis is no where near as bad as the depression that lead to the previous dictators.

If there will be an EU by the time everything goes bankrupt.

And the UN would just probably give any dictatorship(not right-wing) a "human rights council" like they did with all the other tyrant's: China, Russia, Cuba and Iran.

Who are we to say it can't be as bad, such as a double-dip with all this spending? And also the danger of our Islamic friends having nuclear weapons, because no one will stop them.
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So difficult to say when people look back at history everyhing seems so ineivtable but like the butterfly effect the slightest thing could of changed everything.For example the spanish flu could of not happened it must of come from a fairly small source to start with.The result would likely of completly changed the course of europe.
I think dictatorships in Europe these days are much less likely than in the 20s, but not entirely impossible. In the 1920s and 30s, the ideologies of communism and fascism were still "fresh" and not generally discredited yet, as they are now. Today, a democratic-republican system is more or less unanimously accepted and lacking alternatives. I am not sure about the young democracies in eastern Europe, where the political landscape is still rather volatile, but at least in Germany, I believe there is a very strong and robust democratic culture now which would make it extremely difficult for a dictator to take power.

What may happen, though, if the economic situation further deteriorates, are not open dictatorships, but a kind of Russia-style "directed democracies": Semi-dictatorships that pretend to be free systems by maintaining a facade of elections and referendums, while courts and the media are not really free, but massively influenced by an authoritarian elite. Democracy is so popular today that dictators would have to pretend to be democrats, if they want to have a chance to gain power.

So in the worst case, we'd see a gradual erosion of democratic systems. You can see beginnings of that development in Berlusconi's Italy, for example: A thoroughly corrupt elite that custom-tails laws to evade prosecution and to ditch out opponents, massive influence on the media to turn it into a propaganda machine for that elite and excessive use of police power (remember Genua?). An even more extreme example is Putin's Russia.

If the social situation collapses, such a development is possible in other countries too. That's what I'm worried about.
German guy is right on, I think.

There was an interesting article in some magazine a while ago, talking about the theoretical possibility of a coup in the US. They asked a bunch of history and government scholars to speculate on the idea, and they were all pretty skeptical. A big part of it, they said, is that government is now so sprawling and huge and bureaucratic that it's very difficult for an illegitimate leader to just usurp power and start issuing decrees. The civil service can simply refuse to comply, and bring government to a standstill. This is actually what happened in Germany during the so-called "Kapp Putsch" of the 1920s — the Weimar bureaucratic establishment simply refused to recognize the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed "new government" and actually helped orchestrate its downfall.

I guess it's possible, however, that that same bureaucratic elite class could just steadily consolidate power amongst themselves and turn the elected government into a sham... That's the main critique you hear of the EU from a lot of conservative-types.
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