The way I understand it--which admittedly could be off a bit--ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny means that the birth process of a single organism copies that of an entire species. In other words, the birth of a single person goes through stages similar to the birth of our species.
From an ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny point of view, I've been trying to make sense of what's been happening in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and, probably, a couple other medieval Sheikdoms that have been forced off the front page of "important" newspapers because of someone's Oscar dress.
What I've concluded is that big, monolithic, autocratic governments are like big, monolithic, autocratic brands. In other words, the Middle-Eastern countries mentioned above are a lot like a lot of client organizations.
Because I'm rushing this prior to a client meeting this morning, let me give just one example.
Both Middle-Eastern plutocracies or military states regard their customers (citizens) as wholly tangential to their rule. Rulers will do what they want regardless of what the ruled say. The simplest way of thinking about this in marketing terms is to (mis)quote Henry Ford. "A customer can have any color car as long as it's black."
Essentially, what's being said in the Middle-East is you can have any sort of government, as long as the plutocrats stay in office and can steal billions.