A rise in government control has always been a concern for those living in “the land of the free.” Elementary schools teach us of America’s fight for freedom, and the struggles many faced in order to obtain the rights we have today. Over the past few years, scenarios of mass segregation, indoctrination, and persecution have brought millions of dollars to the box office. Movies such as The Hunger Games and Divergent offer a glimpse into a world filled with centralized authority where the hero inevitably brings about the downfall of the authoritarian government. After viewing these movies we ask ourselves what we would do under such circumstances, until we ultimately convince ourselves of its unlikelihood. Unfortunately, people living in North Korea, Syria, and Uzbekistan have been living this lifestyle for decades. Those who reside in Russia and Belarus have been pulled back into a political system reminiscent of Stalinism.
Many of these issues are not covered in our high school history classes. When we encounter their stories through major news outlets, we are often left with little to no information on what it’s really like to live within these countries. Some face the possibility of starvation, others fear being thrown into forced labor camps. Some risk imprisonment or execution to obtain political reform, others quietly attempt to live a privileged life amongst the elite. It’s a complex interaction and requires a look at local customs, traditions, and structure to better understand these situations. Therefore, it is important to dissect the stratocracies, oligarchies, and dictatorships in order to expose their inner workings.
Recent events have shown that social unrest has incited social upheavals. The Arab Spring is an interesting case where the reader sees mobilization against repressive regimes. Ukraine continues its attempt to restructure its political system, even in the wake of Russian military pressure. But still others face challenging scenarios in their pursuit of change. North Koreans not only risk their lives when crossing the Yalu, but also the lives of family members left behind. Many of us take for granted our freedom of speech, whereas in Russia, being a reporter can lead to unfortunate “accidents.”
This Political Stability Series will discuss the issues involving intimidation, brutality, and corruption that fuel these egocentric mentalities. Looking at these countries through an anthropological lens will provide a better cultural understanding, while exploring the lens of political science will offer insights into the geopolitical scene. Using these two elements will hopefully offer some context to these complex structures. If instances of unrest or political shift immerge during the writing of these articles, attention will be allotted accordingly.
The ultimate goal of these brief articles is to help the reader become more familiarized with these critical issues. While ignorance may be bliss for those not involved, it doesn’t offer any solace to those struggling under an authoritarian regime. If there are any areas you would like discussed, or further clarifications made, please leave a comment below.
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