How To Be A Dictator

dictatorIn the Economist, political scientist Alastair Smith explains, in a series of simple tips and instructions, how you too could successfully bend an entire nation to your cruel will:

It doesn’t matter whether you are a dictator, a democratic leader, head of a charity or a sports organisation, the same things go on. Firstly, you don’t rule by yourself—you need supporters to keep you there, and what determines how you best survive is how many supporters you have and how big a pool you can draw these supporters from.

You can’t personally go around and terrorise everyone. Our poor old struggling Syrian president is not personally killing people on the streets. He needs the support of his family, senior generals who are willing to go out and kill people on his behalf. The common misconception is that you need support from the vast majority of the population, but that’s typically not true. There is all this protest on Wall Street, but CEOs are keeping the people they need to keep happy happy—the members of the board, senior management and a few key investors—because they are the people who can replace them. Protesters on Wall Street have no ability to remove the CEOs. So in a lot of countries the masses are terrified but the supporters are not.

Well, the brilliance of the Soviet regime was not just that you relied on few people, but that there were lots of replacements. In a tsarist system you have to rely only on aristocrats, but in a Soviet system everyone can be your supporter. This puts your core circle on notice that they are easily replaced. That, of course, made them horribly loyal. The Mob are very good at this.

Don’t pay your supporters too much! You don’t want them saving up and forming their own power base. Also, don’t be nice to the people at the expense of your coalition. A classic example is natural disasters. Than Shwe was the ruler of Burma when Cyclone Nargis hit in 2008, and he did nothing to help the people. The Generals didn’t warn anybody; though they knew it was coming, they provided virtually no emergency protection. He sent the army in to prevent the people from leaving the flooded Delta areas. He was the perfect example of a leader who never made the mistake of putting the people’s welfare above himself and his coalition.

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  • DeepCough

    “It is better to be feared than loved, more prudent to be cruel than compassionate.”

    “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”

    “Cunning and deceit will every time serve a man better than force.”

    All this and more from “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli, written in the 16th century, and has been studied and praised by famous dictators like Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler. Get your copy today in paperback or on your Kindle, and you, too, can rule over the whole of humankind like a vicious despot from your High Tower!

    • mannyfurious

      What’s interesting is Machiavelli almost certainly intended it to be a satire….

      http://www.idehist.uu.se/distans/ilmh/Ren/flor-mach-mattingly.htm 

      • DeepCough

        Would you believe that was supposed to be the tone of the Aeneid?

        • mannyfurious

          No… but I can kind of see it now that you mention it (whether you’re right or not)….

          • DeepCough

            Well, a better word choice would have been “polemic,” given some of the works of Vergil (See: Eclogues), and it would explain why Vergil wanted his epic poem thrown in the fire before Augustus got his grubby hands on it.

        • Jin The Ninja

          now there is a factoid i never learned in my western tradition lit class

    • mannyfurious

      What’s interesting is Machiavelli almost certainly intended it to be a satire….

      http://www.idehist.uu.se/distans/ilmh/Ren/flor-mach-mattingly.htm 

    • Heath

      Even me? This sounds to good to be true, tell me more!

    • Heath

      Even me? This sounds to good to be true, tell me more!

    • Hadrian999

      i would love to see an infomercial for the prince as a self help program

      • Anarchy Pony

        Internets, get on it.

      • DeepCough

        Funny how you mention that: because that very infomercial could easily be flipped into a Pharma ad, whereby ownership of “The Prince” becomes a key symptom of “Megalomania” or “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (Note: I am well aware of the striking of NPD from the DSM-V).

        • Calypso_1

          NPD will most likely make the cut…kind of an ironic place for the freudian last stand.

  • DeepCough

    “It is better to be feared than loved, more prudent to be cruel than compassionate.”

    “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”

    “Cunning and deceit will every time serve a man better than force.”

    All this and more from “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli, written in the 16th century, and has been studied and praised by famous dictators like Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler. Get your copy today in paperback or on your Kindle, and you, too, can rule over the whole of humankind like a vicious despot from your High Tower!

  • PossiblyMaybeProbablyNot

    I probably should not post this but…what the hell…

    I have an odd sort of respect for dictators…more specifically, for their efficiency and ability to get shit done. They are able to motivate the masses and – as a direct result – things got accomplished. Unfortunately, the motivating factors are usually negative things like fear of torture and/or death for non-compliance…

    But I have always wondered…could there ever be a dictator with a conscience? Someone who has the subliminally hypnotic oratory skills of He Who Shall Not Be Named but who would use those abilities to motivate the general public towards a positive goal or set of goals (assuming that the final destination benefits everyone, equally…) 

    This Benevolent Dictator would need to pull off a seemingly impossible feat: s/he would need to appeal to everyone simultaneously. The Message would need to be one which is so Universal that it would instantaneously unite people from all walks of life, be they Muslim, Jewish, Christian, atheist, etc.

    My parents are fundamental Baptists and I suppose that – from their point of view – I am technically advocating for the rise of what they consider to be the so-called “Anti-Christ” – an individual who will unite the nations and bring some lasting measure of peace, prosperity, and stability. But if Jebus is not going to do it, then why can’t someone else who is already here – stuck on this glorified hunk of spinning rock – pick up the slack in “His” absence? 

    • Hadrian999

      that’s basically what plato was arguing for in “republic” he was all about the “philosopher king” the problem with that is even if you did get a benevolent dictator his kids would most likely be cunts, like 90% of those born into the idle rich class.

    • DeepCough

      “But if Jebus is not going to do it, then why can’t someone else who is
      already here – stuck on this glorified hunk of spinning rock – pick up
      the slack in “His” absence?”

      George Orwell said in his novel ‘1984’ that, “The aim of a revolution is not to oust a dictatorship, it’s to establish a new one.”

  • Mike

    How to be a dictator: Talk to Obama.

    • Hadrian999

      If obama were a dictator that trainwreck of comedy that has been amusing us lately wouldn’t exist, he’s just your garden variety chicago politician douchebag

  • John

    Obama has no power.

    • Crazy Jane

      He could kill you without a trial. OR if he wants, lock you up for eternity. I guess that would be the same as having no power, oh wait, it isn’t!  

  • Dude
  • zedted

    One year for Halloween I stripped down naked and put a potato on my dick.  I’m a dick tater. :)

    • Anarchy Pony

      Boooooooooooo.

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