Why does the surrounding of an authoritarian leader change over time into sycophants and back-scratchers? Why does this process develop geometrically?
It’s very simple.
In an authoritarian society, the head of state is the only source of power. Not the people, but him. He distributes all the benefits: high public positions, financial flows in national companies, natural resources in the country. Therefore, the only way to achieve a high position in society and get rich is to instate oneself in favor of the main person. Well, once you need to be liked by one person, and there are a lot of those who want to be liked and get all the benefits of life, then here comes competition.
First, people surrounding the leader and everyone who wants to get there, are polite and well-mannered, observe etiquette, talk about democracy and equality. Then almost at the same time, without saying a word, everyone starts to try to be closer to the leader, catch his eye, remind of oneself. And since there are not enough places near him, they gradually start jostling, biting, tripping each other up. Sometimes stealthily, sometimes – obviously. If the leader does not pull them back, but makes it clear that he likes such worship, then the race begins to grow. People go beyond the pale. They begin, publicly express their love to the leader, swear allegiance to him (and not the Motherland), suggest perpetuating his name in the names of cities, airports, universities, schools, make amendments to the Constitution to please the leader. When such a manifestation of devotion becomes the norm, and competition grows, people go on destroying each other. They write anonymous letters about their neighbors, colleagues, friends. Any manifestation of disloyalty to the leader is elevated to the rank of high treason. Dissidents are imprisoned. Then there is not enough space for everyone, and camps are being built in the country. Not only “traitors to the Motherland” go there, but also their children and wives. The atmosphere of fear and worship is established in the country.
Competition is the engine of progress in any matter.
But if in democratic countries the competition of ideologies, parties, leaders is aimed at winning the favor of the whole people, then in authoritarian states, competition is aimed at winning the favor of one person.