Tyranny emerges not through top-down authoritarianism, but from the bottom up as citizens slowly give up control over their lives to the political elite. Because this happens slowly through time, many citizens continue to support their government even though their rights and liberties are eroding. This paper identifies ways in which tyranny has been reverse engineered, as citizens are habituated to accepting and supporting political authority, which can limit nonviolent action as a viable option.
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Laurie L. Calhoun is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Advisory Editor of Transition: An International Review.