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Loving the Culture of Fear

Listen up, would-be tyrants, Rich Tater is back with some dictatorial pearls.

I gather that some of you might be tempted to open your societies, allow some limited freedom of assembly, free speech, economic reforms ... sorry, I was about to fall asleep reading off that pathetic list. But you can all do yourselves a big favor and forget about that high-minded civic culture nonsense. Know what the only really useful culture you can cultivate is, my little autocrats? That's right: the culture of fear (see chapter 5 of my book for the details).

In a nutshell, that means you stomp on civil liberties like you mean it, while indulging in show trials, routine intimidation of journalists, rampant surveillance and repression of opposition leaders or anyone else who gets in your way, or threatens to. Then watch everyone else get in line.

Want a great modern example of this? Look how my friend Vladimir Putin has really tightened the screws of late in Russia. That means that all you bloggers, crusading journalists, and punk rockers can sit back and enjoy the some state-sponsored repression for the duration. Young dictators, make sure they enjoy those jail cells, and then settle in and watch a trial presided over by a corrupt judge (your corrupt judge). Take it from me, you'll love watching the culture of fear in action. 

That's the long and short of it now carrying Dictator feeds!

Little-known secret: our forum uses a technology developed to carefully share and allow access to information long before something called the "World Wide Web" was a sparkle in a Swiss eye. In sum, Usenet. If you don't know what that is, young'un, just go back to Tweeting and step away from the keyboard. And let the grownups take care of the adult conversation.

For the rest of you, the entire Dictators Handbook forum is now accessible over usenet from, established by the late Alexander Bartolich (RIP). There's a guy whose understanding of the usefulness of a federated, widely-distributed, semi-unregulated forum is what the Internet was all about.

Stay tuned while Dictator's Handbook becomes the place to discuss totalitarianism, no matter where you are. NNTP for the win, ya bastages!

On Going Down with the Ship

In chapter 13 of our book, we thoroughly covered all things legacy with respect to dictators, from passing on your rule to suitable offspring to setting up monuments reflecting your glory for posterity. And much more -- including an idea that is unfortunately all too attractive to tyrants who are losing their grip on power. When that happens, tearing your world down around you as you fall, damn the collateral damage, becomes a way of spitting back at a hostile universe, one last time (for example, see the last days of Hitler as noted in Ian Kershaw's Hitler: 1936–1945: Nemesis, p. 785). Of course, this cements your legacy as a monster for the ages, but perhaps that's what many dictators aspire to in the first place. 

Are there any recent examples? Maybe; certainly Bashar Assad appears to be inching toward armageddon, as recent reports indicating the use of chemical weapons suggest. It's hard to divine his motives, beyond mere survival, but it looks as if Assad may soon enter a downward spiral that will ensure his legacy is more than simply rotten. Perhaps he thinks 'monster for the ages' has a nice ring to it.  

Final cocktails

Skeletons in the Closet

No, this isn't a post about secrets from the past that emerge to haunt you and end up ruining your dictatorial project. This is literally about skeletons. 

You see, my former colleague, Francois Bozize, deposed leader of the Central African Republic, gets a pat on the back for doing things right. He must have read my book, because he came to power in 2003 through a coup (though, uh, he lost power through another coup -- read more carefully next time, Francis!).

Still, he gets credit for leaving his followers absolutely nothing ... except, of course, 2 human skeletons found by looters in his former residence. Sorry boys, all that gold and cash is long gone! Have fun picking bones! (I'll bet Francis is laughing right now, right between martini number 2 and 3.)

Nothing for you!

Photoshop, Move Over. Here's Norkoshop

The Register comes through again with a blistering send-off of Kim Jong Un and his photo-editing battalions. Wonder how they got so proficient with their digital image editing software? Clearly they have forked Adobe Photoshop and made it into something more useful for the Hermit Regime. Bravo, Register - well done.

Tools of the Trade: Religious Fervor

Rich Tater here once again, this time with a screen-ful of emails from would-be disciples. And yes, they all have problems -- human rights this, human rights that, the ICC, no call backs from the most recent corrupt UN official, Western intervention, etc, etc. Here's one that I thought was interesting: 'Dear Excellency, I have been in power for a year now and the leaders of my country's religious establishment won't cooperate with me; they're too powerful to eliminate and I need their support to consolidate my rule. Any advice? -- Commandante X.' 

Obviously this guy hasn't read my book. If I were him, here's what I'd do.  

Continue reading "Tools of the Trade: Religious Fervor"

The Latest from the Forum

It's been a while. Here's what everybody has been discussing on our forum, as always, a hotbed of skepticism and misanthropy. So, just like this place, but with snacks.

  1. The Death of Privacy
  2. [Togo] Every day, more pissed off
  3. [Uganda] Presidential goats are gone, gone, gone
  4. [Gambia] Sweet! Four day work week!
  5. [Ecuador] Correa prepares for ultimate power
  6. [N Korea] Fuck the hotline
  7. [N Korea] More dangerous than you think, but not nuts

And here are the greatest hits from our obstreperous and observant participants on the forum:

In the conversation [Syria] Assad sees danger everywhere, stays inside, Netizen Max the Incinerator writes That's because he knows his Assad is Grassad if he steps outside. Bad dum bum. Well done, Max.

And in the conversation [N Korea] combat posture to strike US bases, netizen Mutts Nuts writes North Korea reminds me of one of those "drama oscillator" girlfriends your roommate had in college, panicking her way through desperate situations
that consume her but that were essentially her own doing, if not her own
manufacture. The answer, there as here, is to ignore totally, and let her bask in her own irrelevance. But we can also enjoy that brief honeymoon period when web-wankers the world over dreamt that KJU would be a modernist and a reformer. Turns out he's hankering to blow his load in a couple of missiles.

And this is why we're winning the war on terrorism. Mr. Nutts, on behalf of the Dictator's Handbook forum and "web-wankers" the world round, we thank you.