Check out this insightful Op-Ed by writer Jonathan Raban. He talks about the use of language, especially, the cruel joke, as preferred weapon for dictators to demonstrate their power. He writes:
“I once heard Jorge Luis Borges talk about how dictators relished cruel jokes as demonstrations of their power: Juan Perón sacked him as a municipal librarian in Buenos Aires only to appoint him a state inspector of chickens and rabbits in the city market.
“You see?” Borges said. “He had a sense of humor.”’