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Dictator Dislikes: getting stabbed in the back

If you're going to take me on, do it.  But at least be man enough to attack me head-on!  I hate getting stabbed in the back, and I hate it more when I get stabbed by folks I've hired.  But if that's not bad enough, the final insult is being stabbed by someone I hired to represent me.

You know who else hates this stuff?  'Uncle Bob' Mugabe. 

Continue reading "Dictator Dislikes: getting stabbed in the back"

Re-post: A Dictator's Christmas Carol

(Time to drag out the holiday classic, kicking and screaming, once again ... and apologies to Charles Dickens, James Ellroy, and Louis-Ferdinand Celine)

The following manuscript was found in a cache of stolen documents, nestled between execution orders and ledgers detailing illegal funds siphoned from international aid programs.

Part 1

The holiday  inches closer and the masses prepare for it, and they seem happy, or at least content with their lot, living under a dictatorship.

I make that last observation every year and it puzzles me. But I let it go. No need to obsess over it, even if I cannot understand how anyone could be content being ruled by another. This is no ordinary tin-pot autocracy; the peoples' means of earning a livelihood, their media access, travel, ability to express ideas, all of it controlled and restricted. Yet I see them even now, hanging wreaths, setting mangers, trimming trees … pouring rum in their egg nog, casual and distracted, as if secret police are not sharing their good will toast.

(My country is mostly Christian, nominally, and so even I am ‘officially,’ or at least when it’s prudent to appear so. But I have no use for turning the other cheek.)

I find all this holiday cheer strange … I’d never show my face at a party if someone held the power of life and death over me. But then I don’t have that problem because I’m THE DICTATOR. Richard M. Tater, at your service (but not really).

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The Christmas Spirit

From me to  you

I'm not always a monster. Don't laugh, it's true -- just the other day I pardoned a former cabinet minister on his way to a summary execution, and at this very moment he's very much alive, languishing in an unheated prison cell. It's called magnanimity, and it's a virtue only the best dictators possess. Of course, being magnanimous can (and should) have its benefits, and if you've read my book and studied the Principle of Double Purpose you'll know what I'm talking about. In this case, the poor guy was so broken by the thought of his imminent murder and relieved by his pardon that he quickly gave up a whole rats' nest of burgeoning democrats, some of whom will join him in prison, others ... well, why take a chance, right?

But that's one benefit of being a big man about treason. The other is that since the unexpected pardon, my media image has taken on a nice Christmas shine, especially in the eyes of the international community. Hmmm, I can see them thinking, that General Tater, he's not such a bad guy after all. Maybe there's hope for his country ... democracy taking root ... market economy .... reforms .... liberty ... free speech ... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz 

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Growing Up Fast, Dictator Style

The time comes when every dictator-in-training must put away simple dreams of power and grab at the real thing. This concept is not only featured in The Dictator's Handbook, it's also something that can be seen in almost every autocrat's life. Augustus at Actium, Alexander at Vergina, Hitler after the beer-hall putsch ... these were moments when the drive toward one-man rule was finally, completely unchained. And it's happened again, this time in North Korea. 

Giving myself a hand

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On Statues

Smashing Lenin

Quick: what do Saddam Hussein, Moammar Qadaffi, Pope Julius II,and Vladimir Lenin all have in common?

Their statues have all, at one point or another, been torn down and destroyed in piques of anger.

In Chapter 2: Inimitable You of the Dictator's Handbook, we wrote about statues, and how many autocrats seem to adore building and distributing bronze, marble, or ivory likenesses of themselves all over creation. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, North Korea, and elsewhere: you can't escape the smiling, scowling, or meditating face of the local ruler. But that omnipresence of the leader — or equivalent — has a downside, too, and you read it here first: Continue reading "On Statues"

Dick Move #35: Promoting Self Censorship

This one doesn't take much describing, so I'll be brief.  Sometimes, you need to get out your censor board media oversight committee with their big, black Sharpie markers to make sure nothing makes it into the press you aren't willing to see in the morning paper.  But why take the brute force approach, when you can get the same effect with less effort?

I'm talking about self-censorship, and if you have done a decent job of establishing a culture of fear,  it will happen all by itself.  Imagine how pleasant it is when journalists, bloggers, and citizen spokespeople watch their f*cking mouths for fear awful things will happen to them.  

You may think I'm talking about China, but it's happening elsewhere too.

If you're a Dick, that's awesome!  If you're a citizen, not so much. 

On Incompetence

Folks, as you might imagine I could write a post on this topic every day. 

Watch the cycle

Let's face it, incompetence is something I deal with quite often. Do you have to correct shoddy executioners, or overly conspicuous spies, or off-their-game prostitutes? Well, I do it all the time, and it's a wonder I still have the energy to crush dissent on my way to the bathroom (which I am doing more and more often). And that's just the tip of the iceberg. These days, incompetence is everywhere. I ask for agent provocateurs and I get milquetoasts with degrees in performance art; I send out for cold killers and I get thugs holding guns sideways. You just can't win. 

Which is why I am particularly disappointed in some of my fellow dictators. Continue reading "On Incompetence"