Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dictators and binding revolution constraints

The dictator’s approach to electoral patterns;
Democracies rarely repress their own citizens but authoritarian and totalitarian regimes do. According to one estimate (See Table 1), of the 110 million persons repressed by Marxist-Leninist regimes in the twentieth century, more than 90% were their own citizens. In democracies, less than 0.5% of victims were own citizens. It is statistics, such as these, that suggest some "generality" in Stalin's behaviour. Empirical studies also suggest that totalitarian regimes generate more "violence" than democracies (Mulligan, Gil, Sala-I-Martin, 2004)...

Our model suggests that the number of eliminations depends on the probability of correctly identifying enemies, the number of enemies, and the “threat” that the enemy poses. Although we are unable to “prove” our model based on the stylised facts of the three repressions, we can show that the model is consistent with these facts. The model makes one prediction that is consistent with Stalin’s observed behaviour that is far from intuitively obvious. A rational dictator will deliberately eliminate innocent citizens and will eliminate more innocents when enemies are difficult to identify. Stalin’s slaughter of innocents is cited by historians as a sign of his mental derangement, but in our model it is the predicted behaviour of a dictator facing a binding revolution constraint.

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