Why does the entourage of an authoritarian leader eventually turn into flatterers and sycophants? Why does this process develop in a geometric progression?

It’s very simple.

In an authoritarian society, the head of state is the sole source of power. Not the people, but him alone. He distributes all goods: high government positions, financial flows in national companies, and natural resources in the country. Therefore, the only way to achieve a high position in society and get rich is to win the favor of the main person. Well, since many people want to please and get all the benefits of life, competition arises.

At first, the people around the leader and everyone who wants to get there are polite and well-mannered, observing etiquette, and talking about democracy and equality. Then, almost simultaneously, without colluding, everyone starts trying to get closer to the leader, catch his eye, and remind him of themselves. And since there’s not enough room near him, they gradually start pushing, biting, and putting up obstacles. Sometimes subtly, sometimes explicitly. If the leader doesn’t rebuff them and makes it clear that he likes this worship, the race intensifies. People abandon the bounds of decency. They start publicly expressing their love for the leader, swearing allegiance to him (rather than the Motherland), suggesting immortalizing his name in the names of cities, airports, universities, and schools, and amending the Constitution of the country in favor of the leader. When such displays of loyalty become the norm, and competition increases, people turn to destroying each other. They write anonymous letters about neighbors, colleagues, and friends. Any display of disloyalty to the leader is elevated to the rank of state treason. Dissenters are sent to prisons. Then there’s not enough room for all of them, and camps are built in the country. They send not only “traitors to the Motherland” there, but also their children and wives. The country is filled with an atmosphere of fear and worship.

Competition is the engine of progress in any matter.

Only in democratic countries, competition of ideologies, parties, and leaders is aimed at winning the favor of the entire people, whereas in authoritarian states, competition is aimed at winning the favor of one person.

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