Ladies and gentlemen,
I kindly commend your attention to let me briefly engage you in a surprising thought experiment. Close your eyes and allow yourself to drift into a relaxed state of mind...
...Imagine a small hyperdynamic country with little material resources but for an ever-bright sunlight, and adorned with amazingly-varied and astonishingly-touching landscapes; a country plagued by a very-long history of parochial fragmentations and wars, of domination by foreign, exploiting and often-unwise powers, and of unreasonable submission to a superstitious christian-catholic morality; a country with an equally-long, mindbogglingly-rich, deeply-influential cultural heritage expressed by many talented and enlightened geniuses, carved into unique monuments, engraved in immortal literature, overflowing in musical epitaphs, built into splendid architectures and embodied into mesmerizing popular gestures, a greatly-expressive and musical language and a supreme food taste.
Now update your mental picture of this peculiar country, and think of it as held by a formally-young but practically-puerile democratic political system, as originated from the violent reaction against a short but influential dictatorship - which achieved the first realization of collective hypnosis of human masses in modern European history, brought the country into a disastrous global war and left an everlasting impact in the country's collective imaginarium, when not longed-for by some of its citizens. A fragile democracy, though guaranteed by a solid, brilliant and envied Constitutional Law; a democracy nonetheless reflecting the lazy, clownish, approximative spirit of its average inhabitant - poorly-educated, formally-catholic, informed only by electric broadcasting mass-media and book-repellent, superstitious, creative, easy at complaining as much as accepting any moral and illegal abuse not offending his material standard of living, unrivaled in the black art of surviving, escaping from responsibilities and secretly-loving being dictated what to think and what to do.
Suppose now that a charismatic human figure arises to stand in front of this popular background - an ever-smiling, self-confident, smart and ambitious financial mind, expert in image manipulation and communication strategies. Suppose that, thanks to a vast economic fortune of supposedly-unclear origins and to a remarkable personal entrepreneurship, he is progressively able to settle a network of local broadcasting televisions, to build entire towns, to buy newspapers and book publishers, commercial chains and a hugely-successful football team. He builds for himself a preposterous image of a powerful self-made man, sharply-distinguishable and evident from the rest of its likes, largely-rich yet easy to trust, and wildly-alluring for his alleged King Mida-like taumaturgic capacities. Also, include in the picture that his dominating political and masonic allies help him solidify his illegal media tychoon status, legally-turning the country's media establishment he has largely distorted over time into normality. At the same time, consider how the country's citizens are bored of the monotonic, candid and uniform general-purpose public television, so that more and more they accord their preference and attention to the tycoon's own commercial and finally whole-country-spanning emissions - imbued with sticking advertisements, charmingly-vulgar entertainments, naked women, money-awarding shows, gold-covered former public television anchormen turned to the competition, and a permeating sense of optimism, dramatically-combined with the underlying assumption that brute money cannot but buy everything and lead to bullet-proof success.
At this point, start to reason about the influence that such self-imposed and perpetual exposure to a similar pervasive mass-mediatic conditioning may have on the mindset and weltanschauung of the citizens adhering to the new proposed lifestyle. By limiting their own sources of information to the few means kindly and apparently-freely provided by the ever-winning wide-smile man, this increasing mass of people unconsciously starts to perceive and interpret reality through the very eyes and mind of such man - they look at reality as he himself would like it to be shaped. Their gnoseologic apparatus is progressively-distorted to adapt to the distilled links to unreal reality their media godfather allows them - in the void name of freedom and liberalism.
Now let's raise the thread. Imagine that the man realizes that, during his glorious and impeccable activities, he has eventually made too many debts - his offshore financial societies, criminal and masonic links notwithstanding. He is desperate, but because of his narcissisticly-disturbed personality he considers himself invincible, and does not allow himself to loose and be deprived of his own fortune. At any cost. Thus, he turns to his even-darker fellow, who prodigiously treats him with an invention of sheer genius. Declaring bankruptcy? No. Escaping the country? No. Harakiri? Never. Instead, what about exploiting political immunity and overruling the very laws by governing the country itself? What more, with prodigious synchrony the man gets at that frantic conjuncture of need the perfect chance to enter the politic forum unsuspected of his publicly-declared aims (avoiding jail) - or better, unmistakably-hailed as the right, ideal, longly-expected good Samaritan, savior of the country from its collapse and for the pure country's sake. In a time of radical turmoil for the country's politics, as thoroughly revealed by the courts of justice, and for its social security, undermined by criminally-concerted and distributed mass killings, the man entered the political soccer field with a movement of plastic puppets, named after a stadium slogan; and with unprecedented speed - boosted by obsessive advertisements delivered through his televisions and papers, the plague of his enchanting imago of homo novus to politics destined to nothing but succeed in it, as well, as he had so-well done in his own business, and his strong appeal to the widely-felt impelling need of renovation - he finds himself standing on the throne. Willing to remain thereby seated forever.
Now increase the focus while you mentally dig into the technicalities of his strategy - built on that neat treasure of mass psychology deployed by US think-tanks in the '70s. The man debuted with an unprecedented feat. By the time of his appearance, a large part of the country's society was well-used to watch his own televisions - to look at reality through the minuscule and distorting cathodic keyhole of his commercial emissions. Well, at this point the divus manifested himself exposing in people's own homes through that filtered private keyhole. He addressed the potential electorate directly, without verbose filters and old-fashioned, first-republic-like lingerings. A memorable breakthrough: he plugged a private domestic cable to all citizens to monopolize their attention and dramatically made the emotional link between himself and the voters tangible. Hypnotized people do not realize that they are manipulated, and protest when pointed out to be asleep. That's the signature of a working hypnosis. Here the name of the hypnosis is emotional narrative.
The man capitalized on his anciently-seeded and longly-fed emotional connection with his public by few well-studied means. He let the people project themselves and recognize in himself by not hiding or even inventing presumed private defects: being short to the point of needing heels, tombeur de femmes, telling jokes in official occasions, and more. He looses no occasion to draw public attention on himself - at risk of ridicule, too. He made his personally-idealized history known to all citizens of the country by delivering his shining biography to millions of homes (at public expense). Short of inspiration if not from psychological negative self-projections, he claims to inspire his activity to the high ideals of freedom and liberalism, and accordingly re-named his political party. He distracted the attention of his hailing crowds from personal troubles toward terrible ominous enemies, to be found in almost-extinct species called communists (while being proud of being friend of a dreadful former KGB member and Russian president). He started a furious battle to attack the presumed obstacles to his otherwise prodigious action: the magistrates, and ultimately the Constitution itself. He promised a new economic miracle, claimed to spread optimism and love against the poor and hateful left wing while producing aggressive speeches and vulgar prosecutions against public institutions. The voters seemed to accept everything anyway anytime, when not being proud of the implicit power the man arbitrarily accorded to himself.
But this was only the apparent tip of a deep iceberg.
His planned action was easily and hugely successful also because he had meanwhile sold a joyful dream to his sea of voters, whose affection to their loved leader could not be shaken by any of his numerous illegal actions, confirmed failures, supposed crimes, established scandals, hypocritical christian-catholic moral (yet repeatedly consecrated by the roman church itself in exchange of tax exemption). His voters were by now engaged in a living story - just like the many they used to watch on his televisions, but much better and in first person - where they projected themselves into their hero, and could support him as long as they could vote for him (they need democracy for this), and wanted nothing but see the wonderful, glorious ending awaiting such magnificent collective enterprise in the face of the many purported enemies and obstacles and crises and impoverishment and exploitation and the boss' carelessness for people's needs. His voters want to live the dream they were sold - even at the cost of denying reality. A sealed link to the leader - nothing could remove such tremendous spell.
More radically, the man has by now deeply-revisited the very political parlance after having forged the popular, ejecting consistent meaning from common words and filled them back with a void irrelevant one; he introduced categories like love and hate that are not pertinent to politics, made unprecedentedly crystal-clear demagogic statements in each and every occasion, altered the very dynamics of the country's political life by enlisting starlets of his clownish cathodic stardom in his political lists, transformed the Houses of Parliaments into depandances of his own villas and palazzos. He instructed himself and all his adepts to systematically deny any allegation and accusation even in the face of documented facts. What more, he was unbelievably blessed by the conspicuous luck of being faced by the (to say the least) negligible opposition demonstrated against him by the major left-wing party - the most harmless, masochistic, self-contradicting, inconclusive party ever witnessed in the country's history: on the one hand, such party found itself dealing with the new advertisement-oriented gossip-moved language established by the man himself and, instead of rejecting such mischievous jargon, happily adopted it, ultimately acting from the beginning as a non-protagonist character on a stage set by and dedicated to the man; on the other, it was not able of any substantial initiative to let the spell go extinct even during the rare moments of power, unable to declare the huge conflict of interests of the man illegal, ultimately perfectly embodying the vile figure of a mellifluous cloud of recycled unconvincing stains wanting to enjoy easy public money without assuming any responsibility of leadership. Such party was, if anything, an excellent reason for the man's voters not to be deflected from their blind preference.
Now top off your mental construction by filling in the details of the dark side of the artifex of the spell. The man now standing in front of you cannot tolerate any criticism against his acts, and openly declares this out, in hindsight, by voicing out loud his supposedly-strenuous defense of pluralism and liberalism. His narcissism is extreme to the point of disturbing his personality. And he is dreadfully obsessed with his past - which may be on the verge of revolting against him and/or of being finally publicly unveiled - expressing out such parossistic obsession, in hindsight, with his perpetual refusal of letting himself being judged by the country's ordinary justice. He mistakes the hypnotic support manifested by the people with a supernatural blessing that should wishfully make him omnipotent and legitimate him in bending the law of the country at his need and please and in being considered more equal than all other citizens. And he avoids no occasion to fiercely shoot against magistrates and to spread hatred and skepticism over their constitutionally-supported activity, clearly-admitting, in hindsight, his guilt even before any potential trial. He is an essentially-lonely man that surrounded himself and filled the country's institutions with people who either owe something to him or want something from him or can menace him or that he can easily program to operate according to his private will. This way, he was able to let the Parliament approve a long list of infamous laws dedicated to solve his own private justice problems, letting his crimes go extinct before he could be accused or prosecuted for them - always proclaiming to act exclusively in the name of the people's need - a peculiar name for private interests. He finally hijacked the public information sources by surgically-removing all the most troublesome dissonant voices to be thereby found, and lining the public services up with his own private armies of mercenaries. The few political parties of true irreducible opposition are constantly anathemized as extremists, anti-politic and even anti-country, with no less than the approval of the major left wing party itself. Instead of recognizing in this warning the very signal revealing the very source of actual fear for the regime, most perplexed citizens agreed with the ban and flew away from such insidious minorities.
And docile new generations of faithful unscrupulous supporters are being forged by enacting a radical decomposition and miserable downgrade of public educational institutions, schools and ministerial programs.
The man's entire construction is pin-pointed around himself, and therefore destined to annihilate at the moment of his disappearance. But meanwhile, this lonely man is leaving tragic ruins all over the place.
If you bore with this exotic experiment till here, you should now have in mind a rough picture of a decaying country happily and blindly moving toward financial, cultural and institutional collapse right on the verge of a new dictatorship - where the few surviving antibodies that can hopefully reinstate health and secure future prosperity and civilization are mainly segregated in rigorous newspapers and magazines, on the Internet and in domestic intellectual havens. The last diabolic spell of the enduring regime consists in letting these numerous distributed circles feel like isolated and inane particles in front of the dominating consensus.
This experiment is an illusion - a tough one, but still an illusion...
...Right, honorable ladies and gentlemen! You did it - till the end!
Did you play the experiment? Were you able to imagine such a country?
Perfect, then you are ready for the final treat!
Now, open your eyes and ... lo' and behold!
Such a country actually exists.