Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Arnhart, Larry, 1949-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Singapore--Politics and government; Burma--Politics and government; Aristotle. Rhetoric; Aristotle. Politics; Rhetoric--Political aspects--Singapore; Rhetoric--Political aspects--Burma; Despotism--Singapore; Despotism--Burma


That rhetoric plays a major role in maintaining or transforming a regime should be considered an important element of regime analysis. Adopting an Aristotelian conceptual framework for examining tyranny and the rhetoric of tyrannical regimes allows us to understand modern, culturally specific, examples of political rhetoric while drawing general conclusions about the universal regularities of politics. Aristotle's cyclical account of politics contrasts and improves upon modern comparative development theory by acknowledging the real possibility of decay in a regime and, therefore, emphasizing the need to preserve stability in the regime by improving justice in the mixing of the democratic elements with the oligarchic. Drawing from Aristotle to develop the rhetoric of tyranny, I examine how rhetoric addresses the common opinions of the masses (the endoxa ) and how this conforms to the modern comparative analysis of the mass political culture. Enthymemes of tyrannical rhetoric seek to legitimize the preservation of order by appealing to the authoritative or religious endoxa in the political culture of the people. My purpose with respect to analyzing the rhetoric of the political elite in Singapore and Burma is: (1) to show that by addressing the common opinions of the many, their rhetoric conforms to the principles of enthymematic persuasion in the Rhetoric; (2) to challenge the examples used to support their enthymemes, and the truth of the common opinions upon which they are based, that is, to expose them as sophistry; and (3) to show that their rhetoric conforms with Aristotle's advice for preserving tyrannies in the Politics. I find that the political leaders in Singapore and Burma have either invented endoxa (Confucian, Asian, or shared values and the creation of Buddhist ceremonies and kingly duties) or manipulated the traditional endoxa by altering historical accounts and interpreting Confucian or Buddhist traditions to conform to their political ends. Analyzing the rhetoric of benevolent despotism in Singapore and Burma produces some fundamental similarities between the rhetorical strategies undertaken by the leaders of both regimes. This includes the use of survival rhetoric and enthymemes that address religious or ethical codes deemed to be authoritative in a nation's political culture.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [421]-446)


xii, 473 pages




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