The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy

Apr 11, 2023 Analysis
The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy

U.S. leaders are becoming more cruel, vicious and unhinged, and are drifting into a leadership style that I call Kreeseism. This style of leadership is an eponymy of John Kreese, the main antagonist of The Karate Kid franchise.[1] Kreese instilled a dangerous philosophy of “no mercy” in his students and encouraged generations of bullies.[2] Today, toxic leaders use Kreeseism and their legitimate power to harm human rights defenders.

What is Kreeseism?

Kreeseism is a toxic leadership style that is cruel, vicious and unhinged. Toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism instill a dangerous philosophy of “no mercy” and fear in conformers, and create a generation of bullies out of colluders.

Kreeseism Leaders “Throw Rocks” at Human Rights Defenders

One of the most common tactics of Kreeseism is to “throw rocks” at human rights defenders while hiding their hands. This metaphorical expression refers to a toxic leader’s use of covert and indirect methods to instigate harms against human rights defenders, while secretly provoking them.

With these methods, toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism hope human rights defenders will react to their cloak-and-danger tactics. A situation as this is often advantageous for toxic leaders, as it gives them the opportunity to say, “See, I told you they are the problem.” It also allow these leaders to persecute human rights defenders while the toxic leader makes the argument that particular human rights defenders are “the problem.”

Toxic leaders, such as those who engage in Kreeseism, know others may be light on the human rights defenders’ biography and the causes they support. Therefore, toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism will misuse their legitimate power to inveigle others to assail human rights defenders—playing on the sheer ignorance of the ill-informed and impressionable—to stoke their fear of making waves, along with their need to feel protected.

What Does it Mean to “Throw Rocks” at Human Rights Defenders?

To “throw rocks” at human rights defenders means to use a range of tactics to undermine our work, reputation and credibility. These tactics can include:

1. Smear campaigns: Toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism often use their media and propaganda machinery to launch smear campaigns against activists, portraying us as “trouble makers” and “menace to societies.” 

These campaigns can be particularly effective in situations where groups, NGOs and grassroots organizations have little time to elaborate on the facts, making decisions on heuristic factors, such as mugshots, unflattering pictures and 2-second sound bites.

2. Legal harassment: Toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism use legal channels to intimidate human rights defenders. For example, these leaders use their legitimate power to influence court personnel, tribunal members and judges to make decisions in their favor. They also file baseless criminal charges against us for exercising our human rights. These tactics are often used to tie us up in lengthy legal battles, drain our resources, and discourage us from continuing our work.

3. Surveillance and monitoring: Toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism use sophisticated surveillance technologies to monitor human rights defenders’ communications, movements, and activities. This can include intercepting our phone calls and emails, tracking our social media posts, and even using drones to monitor our physical movements.

4. Violence and intimidation: In some cases, toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism may use violence and intimidation to silence human rights defenders. This can include excessive use of force by police, incommunicado detention and even exposure to torture. These tactics are increasing in democracies, where human rights are thought to be respected.

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy: Why do governments use these tactics?

Toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism use these tactics to maintain their power and control over society. Human rights defenders are seen as a threat to the status quo, and toxic leaders often see us as adversaries rather than partners in building a better society. By hiding their hands, toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism can discredit us, undermine our work, and discourage others from joining our cause for peace and human rights.

By engaging in ad hominem attacks, rather than challenging us on the issues we are raising, toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism can divert attention away from their own ill-treatment, human rights violations and international crimes in the State.

[1] John Kreese. The Karate Kid Wiki. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2023, from

[2] Id.

Quianna Canada

Quianna Canada

Quianna Canada is a B.A. Law student at the University of Arizona, a Human Rights Defender, anti-torture activist. Her conversance with the American criminal justice system has made her passionate about justice and equality. Her focused researched on the ills of rankism, racism, and gender-based prejudice makes her an insightful expert at identifying maltreatment immanent in institutions, and how oppression effects ostracised persons in the world.

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