Before you get all, "waah, waah!" about the NSA scandal, before you start blogging in a miserable, alcoholic pool of seething angst, before you post stuff like this image to places like Reddit and Fark, before you Tweet your "boo fucking hoo" all over the cesspool known as the Internet, read the book.
I'm going to do something out of character now, just for fun, just because I can't resist. I'm going to compliment someone other than myself. Don't be shocked, there's a first time for everything. Still, what would you say if I told you the man I have in mind has just been convicted on abuse of office charges for paying for sex with a minor? How is that admirable in any sense?
It starts off as fun: a popular revolution maybe, or a coup d'etat that launches you into power. Suddenly you are THE DICK, cutting deals, making money, crushing your political opponents, vanquishing your enemies.
Your people look to you like the benighted savior of the people. You are a hero, you are divine, you are supernatural, you are a God.
Then it all starts to go to hell. There's a slippery slope there, but somewhere along the way, unfathomably, imperceptibly, with no warning bell, the shine starts to come off. You find yourself scheming, doing double- and triple-deals, sell your supporters up the river, betray those who fought for you. Where does it end as you slowly go from hero to villain?
I don't have that answer, although you can read about it in the Dictator's Handbook (it's there). But I can tell you about what happens on the way:
First of all, somewhere, you send out your thugs and the national police to beat the shit out your elder citizens, who are protesting the fact they're being denied a pension or access to social security. Hear that nagging in the back of your head? Like a buzz? That's the sound of your conscious mewling. You were brought to power on some kind of hokey-pokey "power to the people" platform, and a whole lot of horseshit about how you, the benevolent father, would take care of the poor and disempowered.
Bro, that buzzing is the sound of your hypocricy welling up to the surface with such force you will surely choke on it.
At the end, when you finally meet your inevitable end, Ortega (and the rest of you Dicks too), the people will say about you, "he was worse than the Dick he overthrew." Congratulations, douchebag. You have lost the game.
Let's say that you're an autocrat, like me, and those pesky opposition groups in your country are insisting on electoral reforms, legislative transparency, and some other generic bywords for the democratic impulse. You need to nip this in the bud before it escalates (no, Bashar, not like that). But what if, at the same time, you're facing the specter of an election? Can you really afford to make even token concessions toward democratic reforms, and risk the unthinkable -- losing at the polls?
Don't despair! There is a solution, a subtle and ingenious one currently being employed by my friend Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. It's simply this: move fast, be decisive, schedule a quick election before the opposition can coalesce, before the reforms go through, before the West can send in observers, and then ... pull back. Change your mind! Call a halt and request an 'emergency' extension of the vote -- while insisting that the extra time won't be adequate for instituting reforms.
Sound confusing? It should be. Mr. Mugabe and I are on the same page here -- by the time you enemies figure out what happened, you'll have 'won' 90% of vote and blocked any nascent reforms.
Don't you love it when that happens? I know I do. And don't forget -- read my book, especially chapter 12, and get some more election tips.
This blog has rightly been commenting on the events in Turkey in recent weeks, and now it seems events are taking a page right from The Dictator's Handbook -- Chapter 8, to be precise.
It now looks as if, despite unleashing terrible and probably counter-productive violence, Prime Minister Erdogan is willing to meet with the protesters, ostensibly to hear their complaints.
In Chapter 8 of our book we note that this tactic, the 'Sit-Down', can be particularly useful when trying to defuse public unrest. Take a page from corporate America, dictators -- the CEOs of the world know that nothing grinds down productivity like endless meetings -- and use the face time to snuff out the burgeoning rebellion. Even hint at 'concessions', as Erdogan did, but if you do listen to Rich Tater and insist that all public protestations must cease before any 'meaningful' talks commence.
So keep an eye on Erdogan and see how he plays his cards: and join the conversation on this topic at our forum.
I'd like to start off with an apology to those who suffer from mental or physical disabilities, learning challenges, or debilitating conditions like autism or multiple sclerosis. When I say "Full Retard," I'm not intending to offend you.
Rather, I'm intending to offend the full-blown dumb-asses like Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan and Syria's Bashar el Assad, who seem to have blown a gasket. In fact, I'm reminded of the Dictator 101 classes I give to aspiring young tyrants. I remember Assad, slumped in the back row, woefully unprepared for the task. I don't remember Erdogan though, because he never took the class.
You'd think he'd be smart enough to at least cheat off the exam of the guy sitting next to him.
What's that? The 'End of Privacy?' Sorry my naive friends, but in my country privacy ended a long time ago. Which is why I've been viewing the recent events in my favoriate superpower with a mixture of good humor and annoyance. That's right, annoyance -- I'm insulted that you guys spied on your own people in such an amateurish way.
Don't take make word for it, watch President Obama earnestly confess that no one listened to any US citizen's phone calls. If that's true ... well, you fairly elected officials can learn a lot from me and from my book. Rule number 1: in the dictatorship business, if you have the capability to eavesdrop on private phone calls, and you don't do it, then you already have one foot in your grave. Knowing where you enemies breathe and sleep, what they are planning, what foolish ideas about democracy they're spouting -- that's gold to an autocrat like me.
More than gold; because your enemies are certainly adept at using tools like the internet and social media to organize resistance, these days electronic surveillance is the very lifeblood of dictators. So don't be timid toe-dippers like our friends in the West! Fight back! Fight fire with fire, like Bashar Assad has done in Syria! And make sure that privacy is a relic of the past in your friendly neighborhood dictatorship.
Man, I don't know how many times I say it: the trick to staying in power is to be subtle. Mr. Erdogan, you have officially screwed the pooch. Why?
That's why. I don't know or care about the back story, the reasons, the context, your dyspepsia, what happened just before or just after this moment in time. But you've goofed up because no matter what happens after this unpleasantness is behind you, this will remain behind as the image that characterized your - and your administration's - response to the unrest.
Americans have been hearing for ages how China is slowly taking over the world. Maybe it's true, but the Chinese have certainly chosen investment and endeavor over debt and social networking. Increasingly, Americans are being taught to fear the Chinese as a threat, a menace, an evil.
The column, which is published in English and Chinese, was later renamed as “Americans You Don't Know Of”, an apparent move by the paper to tone down the indecorous wording. Written by the paper’s Chinese news staff in New York, the series so far includes six articles lashing out at practices from greedy corporate culture to companies’ disdain for customers.
Remember, any decent authoritarian is responsible for setting the tone and establishing priorities. That means making clear who your enemies are. These guys have clearly taken that responsibility to heart.