Many are discussing as a "worst case scenario" an emergence of a dictatorial power that could grow in the US. It's entirely possible, however I think its important and enlightening to look back at history to understand how these dictators develop grow and become established. In our current time, it's most important to ponder the results, ex-ante, for a post U.S. and global sovereign financial stress and/or collapse. This financial stress and consequential unmeasured aftermath has left the tube already and is in-flight: we are awaiting the imminent effect. What the effects will be, and the intensity are still fungible. Will it be a center-of-mass hit, or to an extremity?
We have very good historical examples in Rome, France, Russia, Germany, and in a micro scale underway now in Afghanistan of the dynamics of emergent governments and how government power develops. In each of these cases a physically and socially violent blow-off top occurred. It's most interesting to focus on Russia, Germany and France, in which a dictatorial type rule emerged fairly quickly. At each time, when the existing government toppled, a existing force was standing ready to take over the roles of the previous government, and garnered support from the military. This shadow government, in each of those cases, began establishing core support before the collapse (Lenin in exile, Robespierre in the assembly, and Hitler in the beer gardens).
When we look back at the historical reference, and extrapolate for our own situation, many are compelled to make comparisons of those in power now, to these ruthless men of the past. That comparison is shortsighted and poorly though out. If the stress to the current system approaches the level necessary to cause a collapse, or tumult, everyone currently responsible in government will be blamed, and by default become ineligible to the public for the next act. It is far more likely that the next actor will come from a shadow government as the historical trend suggests.
So, if a collapse occurs, must it be violent, and inherently evil? I say no. However, this demands that a force-for-good shadow government begin to be developed and nurtured in order to sterilize any evil shadow organizations that seek to take power. I think a Shadow government can be staged and set up peacefully and fully in accordance with the law (as it is today), in the form of an organized and prepared Libertarian, constitutional party, then be vigilant for a possible vacuum to occur. If the status quo begins to falter, the party must seek maximum publicity, public support and momentum in order to stop the fall. I think this is actually imperative for free minded Americans to do, because as we saw in Russia, opportunists are waiting.
During the Russian revolution, an emergent government developed in the form of pseudo direct democracy called "Soviets". Every factory, and apartment block had their own committee (soviet), from which decisions were made for the constituents. However tzarist Russians had no knowledge, history or experience with constitutions or optimizing and implementing just rule of law; it was all new to them. To compound matters, many were illiterate. Then came Lenin from Switzerland, he had a plan, was charismatic, and was willing to achieve it at any end. Then he got support from the military, which was crucial. Once he had gotten the support of the Navy, and elements of the military, things happened quickly. He forced the Bolsheviks (a relative minority) into positions of power, then brutally put down any resistance.
The military in the United States is unique, a built-in fail-safe from the founders. Enlisted and Officers are not divided by deep class gaps. Secondly the military in the US is binded to the constitutional oath, not the leader, or status quo. Americans have a much different cultural and historical background, and much of the military is in support of the constitution. The founding fathers were amazingly clever and in building it, imbedded multiple safeties to the structure of the country. It would be extremely difficult to co-opt the military into a blatantly fascist, or bolshevik revolution. I just don't forsee any support by the military for such a leader. In fact, it's quite the opposite, since 70% of military donations go to Ron Paul, more than all Republican and Democratic candidates combined. So there is much reason for optimism, but we must be vigilant.