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On Legislative Jujitsu

In an earlier post we noted the recently passed Russian law cracking down on NGOs, but as it happens this was part of a larger cascade of legislation enacted by the Duma that appears to serve a larger purpose. If you've read our book you probably can guess where this is going; faced with the diminishing returns of outright violence, it can't hurt to try and sneak in a flurry of laws that limit, defuse, or otherwise undercut resistance to your regime. It's better than doing nothing and it keeps the bloodletting from making the rounds on the internet. Read on.  Continue reading "On Legislative Jujitsu"

Dictator Dislikes: Monogamy

It's breaks my heart to say this -- well not really, nothing breaks my heart, I'm just using that opening as a literary device to disarm the reader -- but I am very disappointed in the younger generation of dictators. I don't know where they are looking for advice or role models, but they certainly aren't using my example as a template for their love lives. Yes, I'm talking to you, Kim Jong-un. Your poor father must be rolling in his gold-lined coffin, sick at heart in the afterlife with the knowledge that his son has settled down and married. That is no way for a dictator to behave.  Continue reading "Dictator Dislikes: Monogamy"

Dick Move #17: Keep your NGOs on a tight leash

"Non-governmental Organizations"  Who needs 'em?  "Not I," said the Dick.  I'm conflicted on this one, frankly.  It's kind of nice having international institutions come in to fix problems, build schools, train teachers, send your staff away for training in other places (job perk!) and the like.  But there's a downside too. Continue reading "Dick Move #17: Keep your NGOs on a tight leash"

Dick Move #15: Clear out the Dead Wood

Let's face it: Kim Jong Un isn't that bright.  And he is not that well traveled.  His education is lackluster at best.  And he's not much to look at: in fact, his pudgy face fills you with a yearning to punch it.

Punch here, dummy!

But he's got one thing going for him: he's read chapter 3 of the Dictator's Handbook. 

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Rumors, Endgame, and Just Deserts

One of the richest veins we mined in the writing of this book was the various ways in which a one-man regime can crumble, prolong itself, or pass a legacy on to its successors. The clearest preference for any tyrant would be to die peacefully and cede power to a natural dauphin, and thus ensure that his legacy lasts at least as long as the flowers on his grave. But we all know life isn't often that clean. For dictators, who are generally weaker than they look, abrupt, violent endings are commonplace, and they are usually followed by a period of chaos during which any legacy is torn to shreds by power blocks competing for ascendency. What do you do to avoid this kind of unpleasant scenario? Read chapter 13 of The Dictator's Handbook for a complete guide to the autocrat's options, but recent headlines from Damascus suggest that at least one bit of advice can be gleaned. Read on.  Continue reading "Rumors, Endgame, and Just Deserts "

Dictator Dislikes: Moderation

There might be the odd bird out there, the dictator who settles down for 8 hours of sleep a night, curbs his alcohol consumption, does not overeat, and channels his sadistic or amorous urges to acceptable outlets ... if so, we weren't aware of him when writing this book. Looking at the lifestyles of tyrants through the centuries, it's hard to find one who shines as an example of moderation and sobriety. In chapter 2 of The Dictator's Handbook we discuss the elements of the leader's lifestyle, and it should be no surprise that these involve conspicuous consumption. Our subjects are sometimes literally expansive men with large appetites and ambitions that need to be fed. If there's one thing that all dictators turn decisively against at some point in their careers, it's the idea of moderation (it certainly isn't mass murder or brazen theft). See chapter 2 for more information, or simply look around you.  Continue reading "Dictator Dislikes: Moderation"

Dick Move #14: Stack the Courts

So your opponent is coming to power, or the opposition party has taken the lead in your legislative bodies - National Assembly or equivalent?  Time to act fast.  And since you're an autocrat, you can probably do so quickly and decisively without having to deal with pesky legislation.  Once again, it's nice to be at the top of the food chain.  Follow these instructions carefully: Continue reading "Dick Move #14: Stack the Courts"