In the long run, the regime might indeed begin to totter: This is the entire point.
His cheeks bright red, his chin wet with spittle, the helot would weave and stagger and totter until he passed out in the dirt.
c.1200, "swing to and fro," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Norwegian totra "to quiver, shake"). Meaning "stand or walk with shaky, unsteady steps" is from c.1600. Related: Tottered; tottering.