A despot may seize power by persuading or bribing the hierarchy of the military force. Maintaining your power gained this way needs a particular condition. The successful dictator must keep the majority blind to his real intentions, excluding all but his inner circle.
'Treat Them Like Mushrooms'
A population held in the dark and fed on garbage is simpler to regulate than the usual that's awake, fit and accurately informed.
To harness the population as unconscious accomplices to an authoritarian government is dependent upon reserving knowledge towards the trusted collaborators of the leader. The secret extends back with a time before human records begin. At some time, the group elite moved from being gatherers of food to being hunters of meat.
Successful hunters could not help but share knowledge gained by experience.
Even if a person wished to keep secrets from his fellow hunters, they could follow him to the best hunting grounds and copy his tracking methods or tool-making techniques. Knowledge of these skills would be handed down from father to son. The hunters excluded one group: the gatherers. Women, forbidden to create or use weapons, were rendered politically ineffectual.
Art, designed for purposes we are able to only guess at, is made by specialists who had been sustained by the group but reserved their expertise to themselves. In later times, reading and writing were skills open to a minority of privileged people.
Whenever a inhabitants are held in general ignorance, specialist groups hold power.
Bureaucrats keep secrets for that hierarchy of church or state, much as the mandarins served the emperors of ancient China or even the Inquisition served rulers from the Vatican. Scholarship, like professional skill, was reserved for men towards the top of society's ladder. Science was a private search for rare, brave men with inquiring minds. To openly propose a new theory, based on scientific method or evidence, brought dire penalties of imprisonment, torture or death.
It couldn't last. Plus it didn't last.
In the 15th century, a goldsmith named Gutenberg developed the printing press. His invention made possible the dissemination with the Bible with a readership outside of the monasteries. Translation with the stories into languages in keeping use sparked a desire for knowledge among the wider population.
Today, basic education for every child, male or female, can be obtained by law in developed nations. University level education is at economic reach on most Westerners wanting to study for any field with the sciences and humanities. Free public libraries as well as the world-wide Internet supply the curious with the information accumulated by humanity to date.