Martial law is usually imposed on a temporary basis when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively (e.g., maintain order and security, or provide essential services). In full-scale martial law, the highest-ranking military officer would take over, or be installed, as the military governor or as head of the government, thus removing all power from the previous executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.
Martial law can be used by governments to enforce their rule over the public. Such incidents may occur when threatened by popular protest; to suppress political opposition; or to stabilize insurrections or perceived insurrections. Martial law may be declared in cases of major natural disasters; however, most countries use a different legal construct, such as a state of emergency.
Typically, the imposition of martial law accompanies curfews, the suspension of civil law, civil rights, habeas corpus, and the application or extension of military law or military justice to civilians. Civilians defying martial law may be subjected to military tribunal (court-martial).
Steps to Totalitarianism
Step 1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
Step 2. Create a Gulag
Step 3. Develop a thug caste.
Step 4. Set up an internal surveillance system
Step 5. Harass citizens' groups
Step 6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
Step 7. Target key individuals
Step 8. Control the press
Step 9. Dissent equals treason
Step 10. Suspend the rule of law