One of the classic images in Russian literature comes from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment: more specifically, it comes from an episode where the protagonist, Raskolnikov, has a harrowing dream, in which a mare is brutally beaten to death by a carriage driver as a seething crowd eggs him on:Continue reading "Raskolnikov's Dream"
While human nature isn't likely to grow less evil over time, there are some moments in history when it just is a bad idea to be a dictator. We may be living through one of those moments now.
Certainly the events in Ukraine and Venezuela seem to suggest that, if not in outright retreat, the autocrats of our time are finding that there is no such thing as 'ultimate' power. At the very least what this shows is that modern dictaotors have not yet fully absorbed the lessons from history's more successful autocrats on managing unrest and consolidating their rule, lessons we discussed in our book.
The one seeming exception? Vladimir Putin, of course, but more on Russia later.
I'd like to use this opportunity to point out that there are few dictators who ever really achieve the absolute pinnacle of autocracy -- that point you reach when you can simply NOT CARE about international opinion or the grumblings of your people ... thanks for applauding, and yes, yes I admit that I have reached that point (of course I have) and to be honest it is a little lonely here at the summit of tyranny. How can my colleagues relate to me, after all, when they're still looking over their shoulders at the UN, the ICC, the World Bank, and many other international institutions? None of them understand my potency because they don't know what it's like.
Except, that is for my esteemed friend Vladimir Putin.
Continue reading "On Not Caring"