authoritarian leaders

I've been thinking this week about authoritarian leadership styles and how threatened they are by free thought and opposition of any kind or degree. We see this in an extreme way with authoritarian regimes, and I've included a few expert thoughts here on the subject. If you've worked with an authoritarian leader, any of these things may seem familiar to your experience.

Note: don academic hat here

From Talking the Walk: Speech Acts and Resistance in Authoritarian Regimes
Hank Johnston, Department of Sociology, San Diego State University

"Models of mobilization based on western cases take for granted communication among social movement
participants, but communication and dissemination of information are problematic in authoritarian states."

"Authoritarian regimes are characterized by a near monopoly of power and authority by the party
and state, and the illegitimacy of all dissent except that which is officially tolerated. Monitoring the
boundaries of toleration is second-nature task for state and party officials. While this control is never
absolute, and varies from one country to another (and among regional or local administrative units), the goal
of the authoritarian state is to colonize all but the most intimate aspects of social life. This colonization leads
an associational life in which membership in officially sanctioned organizations such as trade unions,
neighborhood organizations, and youth organizations is commonplace and often required.

"Citizens frequently note that they live a double life split between official spheres where speech is ideologized and controlled and a more authentic private life."

"Authoritarian society is based upon networks of citizens who are acutely aware of the split between public
and private spheres (Habermas 1979). Social gatherings, neighborhood associations, labor organizations,
etc. bring together a wide variety of people who manage this split in different ways and degrees. The private
sphere may break the surface of public discourse and be openly voiced, depending on the emergent
assessment of the group's composition. The emergent definition of an interactional setting as safe gives rise
to what I call oppositional speech situations. These are micro free spaces, and much like a fog is composed
of microparticles of water filling the air, oppositional speech situations pervade daily life when the
authoritarian state begins to lose legitimacy but maintains social control." [emphasis mine]