Is America Becoming a Dictatorship?

There’s a lot of hyperbole being tossed around these days to describe the current unprecedented assault on American democracy from the Trump administration. But how do we really know what to believe? What is the benchmark that will tell us when an aspiring authoritarian president has tipped us over into a dictatorial culture?

I define a dictatorial culture as one that strictly enforces control over its citizens or employees. Bullies thrive in this culture and are considered heroes. People under such a regime live and work in fear. Dictatorial cultures have a severe emotional and psychological impact on human behavior and people often change their behavior to survive—rationalizing, blame and denial become coping mechanisms while under assault.  According to Leon Festinger in A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, “people can be highly impressionable and obedient when provided with a legitimized ideology and social and institutional support, especially when it is done through coercive means by and authority.”

Signs of a dictatorial culture include:

·       Bullying is a means of survival and advancement

·       Blind obedience is expected

·       The boss is not told what needs to be heard

·       People who “suck up” are favored

·       When things go wrong, employees are blamed and punished

·       Innovation, loyalty and goodwill are nonexistent

·       There is little transparency and an obsession with secrecy

Fortunately, there is something that can be done when you find yourself under a dictatorial culture, which I discuss in my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire.

Continuing this three-part series, I will also discuss living in disjointed and stable cultures, how to recognize them, and what they mean for our future.

Illustration credit: BIGSTOCK