Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Repressive, but Efficient

Go To

Basic Trope: An authoritarian regime has good infrastructure.

  • Straight: The People's Republic of Ruritania may do things like spy on its citizens, use the death penalty for everything from stealing a loaf of bread to murder, disallow critical or insufficiently reverential comment about the government or its leaders, forcibly sterilize anyone whose genes it feels are not "good enough" for its Super Breeding Program, and force people to take Happy Pills, but at least there are good schools, top-notch hospitals (all paid for), and the trains run on time.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed:
    • The People's Republic of Ruritania provides some type of Bread and Circuses.
    • The People's Republic of Ruritania isn't fascist or communist, per se, but it's tough on crime and drugs, the social status quo is strict, and most of the media are government-controlled, and overall society in Ruritania is rather more efficient than in its more democratic neighbour, Tropeland.
    • Advertisement:
    • The People's Republic of Ruritania is efficient at producing today's goods and services enmasse but is horrible at innovating and adapting to change.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted: The authoritarian regime's infrastructure is impressively efficient and well-maintained ... for the elite class and visiting journalists. Behind the façade and propaganda, it's falling apart.
    • The authoritarian's infrastructure looks more advanced but is Awesome, but Impractical - the maglev trains everywhere use more power and carry less than freight trains wood tie tracks and the slower trains are capable of handling tighter turns which allow for better service within the geography - not to mention buses would be cheaper still.
  • Double Subverted: The regime's lower classes have a much lower standard of living than the elites, but further examination reveals that the basic necessities are taken care of, with budget left over for enough Bread and Circuses to prevent widespread discontent.
  • Parodied:
    • An old Ruritanian man says that the former People's Party of Ruritania government executed, abducted, and unpersoned thousands of people, set up a massive Sinister Surveillance system, drove nearly everyone into severe paranoia because anybody could be an informer, waged a Forever War with bordering countries, and broadcast annoying propaganda on any given corner. Then he says that he misses them nonetheless, because the PPR provided free universal health care, even though the equipment was badly obsolete and clinics crowded. Oh, and the trains — though also outdated and uncomfortable — ran on time.
    • There's a military coup in heretofore democratic but struggling Ruritania. As soon as The Generalissimo has consolidated his power, reports from the country, which alluded without fail to the state of disrepair of its roads, bridges, canals, ports, railways, etc., turn on a dime and describe them as being state-of-the-art. This applies whether the alleged improvements were real, tangible, and meaningful; whether they were negligible or illusory; or whether it's become even worse.
      • The foregoing could also be inverted if a democratic regime replaces the authoritarian one.
    • In an international list of countries by performance metrics, changes in democratic quality bring about inverse changes in infrastructure quality and vice versa. This isn't even PRR propaganda — it comes from one or more neutral or enemy countries/organizations.
  • Zig-Zagged:
    • Some of the PRR's infrastructure is good, while other parts aren't.
    • A totalitarian movement takes over, establishes a "People's Republic of Ruritania", and embarks on a program of national infrastructure repair and replacement as needed, but then the leaders decide to discontinue it. But then they order attention returned to infrastructure — only to find that everybody overseeing this program is inept, crooked, or both. So, they're replaced with honest experts, who make infrastructure in the PRR good. But then they displease the Powers That Be for some other reason and are eliminated from the government...
  • Averted:
  • Enforced: Writer on Board
  • Lampshaded: "All according to the old saying: if you want a truly efficient government, you end up with a dictatorship."
  • Invoked: An authoritarian regime takes over Ruritania, and wants to establish or maintain its credibility to the masses.
  • Exploited: The PRR launches an immigration campaign (with a message to the effect of "We're harsh and things work here, dammit") that is one hundred percent true.
  • Defied: The PRR decides it's not responsible for infrastructure, and lets everything be privatized.
  • Discussed: "How do you get things done around here?" "By doing everything right."
  • Conversed: "Did you know they based the hyper-efficient country, Ruritania, on Nazi Germany?" "Right, like that Star Trek episode. Only now that perception is Dated History."
  • Implied: Nothing is known of Ruritania's form of government, but its law is effective, if strict; its police force, while a bit harsh, keeps order perfectly; Ruritanian towns are clearly vibrant and flourishing, and trains do run on time.
  • Deconstructed:
    • The people decide efficiency isn't worth the price of repression and revolt.
    • The repression interferes with the efficiency and people's quality of life, and the PPR loses an election it had designed to be a downhill battle for itself.
  • Reconstructed: The less authoritarian new government gets in over its head, with a depression setting in that it can't fix no matter how hard it tries. The PPR replaces it, either by counter-revolution or at the next election, having demonstrated its Vetinari Job Security.
  • Played for Drama: Alice and Bob want Ruritania to be democratic and the story focuses on their angst that too few of their co-nationals are willing to join them because they appreciate the efficient infrastructure.
  • Played for Horror: The efficiency is in the repression alone, with People Farms and other enterprises that use Human Resources liberally driving Ruritania's economy.
  • Played for Laughs: Repression in Ruritania consists of the State Sec doling out Amusing Injuries to lawbreakers while everything else works well.

Back to Repressive, but Efficient

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: