Interesting post at Americana:
Age of Delerium, David Satter’s book about Soviet Russia in collapse as he experienced it working as a journalist in the 1980s, posits that one of the contributing factors to the unraveling of the Soviet state was an unexpected side-effect of allowing unfiltered, uncensored information to reach the Russian people during Glasnost. The Soviet state believed it could ease into a kinder, gentler era, but when people began to realize the extent to which they had been lied to, misled, or deceived for decades, the power of the Soviet state itself began to come undone at every level.
This is no small point; as powerful, monolithic, pervasive, overwhelming the power of the state appears to be to the citizens, it is wholly dependent on the belief that it is as such. This is also true of lesser forms of leadership, a leaders power is a construct of a collective belief in their power and really nothing else. A figure of authority has power over an individual only insofar as the individual believes they do, and as importantly, insofar as other individuals believe they do. We sometimes mistake power as a force that is projected upon us by someone or something else.
Well, there is torture and the state's monopoly of violence (except when outsourced). there's that.