A possibility that should not be overlooked in the framework of study of urban survival: Governments may turn against their own people

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Pablo Edronkin

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It might seem inappropriate, subversive, exaggerated or apocalyptic, but even democratic governments sometimes turn against their own citizens and act in order to persecute them; thus, if you study urban survival techniques you have to at least account for this possibility.

Two very clear examples of this are those of Adolf Hitler and Robert Mugabe; both reached power thanks to the popular vote and slowly, little by little began persecuting those that they didn't like and ended bullying just about anybody else using all sorts of methods, including murder. The number of victims in both case of course differ, but the kind of leadership was the same. Whether you are talking about one, a thousand or a million victims, for those victims statistics doesn't matter since for they certainty hit them violently and sometimes terminally. The evilness of a bad leader should not be judged by the number of victims that he provokes, but by the fact that he causes victims in the first place. With these two examples - but there are more indeed - it is enough to understand that even the most ostensibly democratic leaders may become ruthless and act against innocent people.

So, once it is understood that such a hypothesis is not proper of the metaphysical universe but our reality, we have to see what does it mean in the context of urban survival:

Freedom is never guaranteed: Not even in the most advanced and enlightened democratic societies. Europe was far more advanced technologically and scientifically than - say - the Hmong people of Indochina in 1914 and 1939 but the natives of the Far East were not precisely those that started WWI and WWII, just in case anyone doubted.

Constitutional guarantees are good but insufficient: If a political leader snaps and orders security forces to arrest and even kill people, he might just get away with it at least in the beginning and even if someone constitutionally and legally stops him. Getting rid of a number of people is something achievable even before the healthy legal mechanisms stop the whole butchery. In practice this means that if your government sends a hitman with a silenced pistol to silence you, they actually can achieve their goals. If done sufficiently fast, nobody will notice and if it weren't so, movies like the James Bond series would not be so popular. It is a fact of every society that there are individuals who have special powers and a state-sponsored legal capability to intimidate others, like in the case of secret service agents and tax collectors.

Legal and constitutional systems can be manipulated: This happens every day. Whomever gets the best lawyer gets the ostensible truth on his side, no matter if the truth lies somewhere else. The government has the biggest resource sin any country so it also counts on making the laws and getting the best lawyers. This makes any witchcraft trial completely legal if needed, and in fact, during the middle ages they were flawless in that sense. People were tortured, maimed and executed in a very tidy and meticulous way. The nazis also did an extraordinary legal job to justify what they did: technically, no murder of any Jew in Germany was illegal but we know the story. Law is just the advantage of the powerful, as Socrates said, so don't expect from it as much as to bet your life on it.

Summam scrutemur, we can say that the state and the government of any country may not have the same set of priorities than its citizens and so no body is immune to becoming a victim of a state or government policy of persecution because governments do turn against their own people from time to time and can cause damage on epic proportions (See The Mother of All Mistakes). It is important to differentiate this from what is the use of power for legitimate purposes like fighting real crime. However, the temptation to use the clout of the state for political, religious or ethnic persecution is too great to discard any possibility of having a government acting in a genocidal way even in the most democratic of countries.

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