This question happens in the same universe as my other questions:

  1. How should a country introduce a constructed language as the official language?
  2. How many years could you trim from schooling?
  3. Could large but sparsely populated country control its borders?

TL/DR My story happens in a country which is large by land area, relatively well off economically but with a small population. The country is ruled by an autocrat who is keen on social engineering.

The problem for our Dear Leader are those pesky liberals asking for silly things like: Independent media, rule of law, equal rights for women, recognizing minorities, releasing political prisoners etc. Our Dear Leader already slashed all those unnecessary fields where liberal professors brainwash innocent students, such as the arts and humanities. Unfortunately it turns out that some people still indoctrinate themselves with the ideology of our enemies.

Though our Dear Leader never shied away from trying to help liberals see reason by either the re-education through labor program, or failing that the good old-fashioned murder, he noticed that families of the lost sheep aren't too appreciative of his efforts . Unfortunately population of our country is very small, so helping them perceive the wisdom is out of question, at least for now.

Is there any way to encourage those pesky liberals to leave the country?

Our Dear Leader is ready to spend money and help them champion their causes somewhere else. They could protect the environment all they want as long as it's in some other country. The families will be happy that their loved ones are safe. And our Dear Leader would happily sign mining contracts for the glory of our nation.


Dear Leader wants people who dislike government policies to leave the country, preferably somewhere far away. The country has a reverse Iron curtain where everybody is allowed to leave but nobody is allowed to get back without permission. The industries are very capital intensive, there is no benefits in political prisoners harvesting woods in the Taiga when the same job could be done by contractors using heavy forestry equipment. Entrusting 1,000,000 forestry equipment to intellectual who hates the regime is not a good idea.

Political prisoners tie guards that are needed elsewhere while providing zero benefits to the country. Killing them enrages the families of the liberals, who ask for clemency.

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    $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon librarians? Those meanies who demand silence and want everyone filed by their Dewey Decimal number? Surely you jest! ;-) $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ Ha! Oops, I meant libertarians. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ The problem is not getting the opposition to leave the country, as generally they're pretty eager to go. The problem for tyrants is keeping them in. See e.g. the Berlin Wall, and other tactics such as holding families hostage used by various recent equivalents to your "Dear Leader". $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ Put them in a jail next to the border. Whoever gets away won't try returning while regime is in power. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon: The word "liberal" has a weird meaning in America. In the rest of the world it means right-wing laissez-faire, sort of like "libertarian" in America but without the extreme individualism and with much more social empathy; if your are an American think of the meaning of the world "liberal" in "liberal professions". For example, the non-religious wing of the American Republican party would be called "Liberal" in Europe. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 19:11

5 Answers 5


The fictional great leader could take some pointers from history ...

  • Allow liberal artists on a concert tour abroad, then revoke their passport.
  • Put liberals in jail, then generously allow them to leave. Perhaps there are even concessions for doing so.

Those two examples worked under the peculiar conditions of the divided Germany, where West Germany claimed that East Germans were their citizens, too. But perhaps something could be made from it.

Make it possible for the most obnoxious intellectuals to travel abroad, where rank-and-file workers cannot? Make it possible for them to take their immediate family, but no more?

  • $\begingroup$ Everyone is allowed to leave the country, the problem is to encourage liberals to leave, while keeping the loyal people to stay. $\endgroup$
    – SapirWhorf
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ @SapirWhorf, if everybody is allowed to leave the greatest leader, that's really a fictional world ... regarding your point, the education reform has removed the jobs of most of those liberals, right? If they have no engineering training, they can work in the fields or emigrate. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 13:19

The Three-Step Program to Remove Your Political Enemies

1. Set aside some land for a liberal state

No matter how you try to force the population out, they will need a place to be forced into. Saying "just go" without offering land to go to may result in a revolution - or international backlash.

This place must be

  • Nearby, to minimize the costs of travel. Lower costs reduce the probability of revolution
  • Reasonably under your control, so they don't cook up ideas that could harm you under a foreign power
  • In a place that's easy to cut off (perhaps on the border, or in the mountains, or on an island)
  • Fairly liberal already, so the "useful" population isn't upset about losing their land

Provide this land as a "liberal state" and strongly suggest that those with opposing political views should move there. They will be able to make whatever political choices they choose as long as they remain loyal to you, should you need them; suggest a democracy, perhaps.

2. Motivate the liberal population to move there

In order, follow these steps to motivate your settlers:

  • Offer to pay the costs of travel and housing
  • Raise the remaining people's taxes by 10% each month
  • Advertise to the public how liberals threaten the cohesiveness of the government; make them uncomfortable and disliked where they are, and describe the silver lining of the place where they could alternatively be.
  • Fine those still present if they do not leave (or if they don't close their mouths)
  • Criminalize having public "anti-establishment" or "anarchial" or "destructive" or "chaotic" or "unusual" political affiliations. Say that such beliefs impair the nation's ability to function, to reach greatness, etc. and that everyone needs to work together or move to the Liberal State in order to benefit the people. Punish "criminals" with deportation or incarceration.
  • Militarize if there are still problems.

3. Isolate the state

Grant the government of the Liberal State independence, under the condition that you can continue deporting criminals there. Include some valid, true criminals in the mix to promote anarchy. Keep some of your agents in its system to monitor its activities. Define a clear border, and cease economic activities across it; a wall, trench, or canal may work well. Make emigration one-way.

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    $\begingroup$ Hong Kong and Taiwan model? $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ Also intriguingly, this is remarkably similar to how farmers can decrease resistance to their pesticides -- they set aside a small region to be pesticide free, where the bugs can enjoy their lifecycle freely. When a bug does figure out how to become resistent to a pesticide, the mating population consists mostly of bugs with weak pesticide resistance. This improves the chance that offspring will be killed by pesticides, nipping the resistence off at the bud. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ Or, apply the Soviet experience: give the dissidents a choice between emigration and an opportunity to visit Siberia for 15 years. Many of them will chose to emigrate and the rest will benefit from a thorough re-education. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 19:18

Given the description of your nation as being large, sparsely populated and with lots of land which is marginally habitable, the simple solution is to revive the Soviet practice of "internal exile". One thing which seems pretty common throughout history is despotic regimes spend a lot of time and effort keeping people trapped within their borders, even when it would seem more logical to simply let dissidents leave.

Presumably, like most socialistic paradises, the population is constrained by travel through tight control of transportation and the use of internal passports or other documentation, so rounding up dissidents and their families and shipping them past the Ural mountains or whatever the demarcation line in your fictional nation is should suffice. They are not going to be able to wait at the train station for a ride out, since you control the train schedule (trains only arrive to bring more dissidents, or are freight trains to extract mineral or other natural wealth), and no one is getting aboard without proper paperwork anyway.

This has the added benefits of providing a literally captive labour pool for whatever needs to be done "out there", preventing dissidents from communicating with the rest of the population and also preventing them from finding a safe haven in foreign territory to arm and train for revolution against you. (This explains the obsessive efforts of the Soviet Union to track down dissidents and "white Russian" groups who had fled the borders of Russia and either kill, kidnap or subvert them in the 1930's).

So people are not going to be encouraged to immigrate, they are just going to be "encouraged" to move away from the population centres, but still provide labour and maybe other value to the regime somewhere else.

  • $\begingroup$ Good ideas, but they don't work in my setting. The country's industries are very capital intensive, there is no benefits of using captive labor. Hostile prisoners could damage machinery worth millions just through negligence. $\endgroup$
    – SapirWhorf
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ The White Sea Canal was built by slave (prisoner) labour using picks and shovels despite the availability of power machinery in the 1930 era Soviet Union. Captive labour does not really need to be used efficiently, just generate enough revenue to cover the cost of captivity, after all. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Thucydides The Soviet gulags were unprofitable since the early 50's, Lavrenty Beria, the head of the secret police and the ultimate Gulag insider, argued in favor of shutting them down . So for the story set in the 70's the economics doesn't work. For details see hoover.org/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/… Isn't it ironic that even the socialist dictators care about economics The whole book is here onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/metabook?id=hoovergulag $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 16:41

How to force opposition to emigrate?

  1. Create thought leaders, people who the average person trusts to shape their opinions. They must show people that they match their opinions for most things in order to win their confidence, and then drop hints to move them towards distrusting liberal. You must have thought leaders for the opposition. They will be your trigger for emigration.
  2. Create multiple information sources. So you need agents on news papers, broadcast journalists, social media. They must produce a coordinated campaign of information so that people believe they are forming opinions based on a broad range of inputs.
  3. Create an opinion of moral license. People should feel that by condemning opposition messages they are licensed to act badly. The average person can engage in bullying and emotional outbursts while feeling justified.
  4. Identify opposition traits as shameful. The goal here is to introduce a descriptor that is fairly neutral, and associate it with shameful things. So you may call someone 'highly educated' which will signal your folks 'unrealistic dreamer' or 'closet revolutionary'. This reduces conversation by creating a subtext the opposition can't deal with.
  5. Focus news coverage on examples of opposition viciousness and minimize or gloss over other stories. This creates a narrative of scary violence that will fuel over reaction in your supporters. Your want a lynching to show the opposition that you can barely hold back the righteous anger of the public.
  6. Thought leaders for the opposition should threaten emigration to Canada (or some other utopia). They will lead the exodus.
  7. Finally, you need a triggering event. You need a riot by the opposition, an attempted coup that you you can blame on the opposition (see false flag) You want some violent event that will let you draw a line under the situation and trigger 'positive action'. Mass deportation is one option if you have enough rail road cars.

You may want to examine the history of India around the time that the British were forced out. At that time, Muslims and Hindus were at odds. Eventually, Pakistan was formed as a place for Muslims. Not all Muslims left India, but many of them did. Note well the current relationship between India and Pakistan.


Assuming that country is rich enough, that people would not emigrate because of economical reasons... Such people would actually be already generally willing to leave...

The problem is that without proper persecution other countries may see them as economic emigrants who can be deported back, instead of people seeking political asylum.

Make quite a few laws which violation would be treated as treason. Then, because of mercy offer such people as a way to escape any punishment to be stripped of citizenship (thus no longer expected to be loyal). Finally deport them abroad with documents necessary for political asylum. Be extra merciful and let some state funded charity to help them transport their left behind property afterwards.

If the procedure is organized properly, then opposition members deface poster of the Leader and incriminate themselves on the nearest police station. Police give them questionare on which they can pick their crime from the list, refuse to rat any co-conspirator, select country which they would like to be deported and list whether their property should be stored in secret police storage facility, auctioned or given to selected family members and friends.


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