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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:

The downside is that any statue so intimately connected to you becomes a magnet for marches, riots, and even vandalism by your detractors. Be prepared to use the military to protect your likenesses because the people, once riled, will take great pleasure in trashing your masterpiece. Note: 24 hour illumination of your statue during a lengthy blackout of the capital city is a bad idea, as it will remind everyone your priority is illuminating your masterpiece, not allowing the masses to watch the football match, and your lovely work of art will become a tempting target for violence and mischief.


That's surely something the Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych understands well at this point, as the Ukrainian crowds take out their anger on one of the world's last statues of Vladimir Lenin.

What comes next? Read the book: it's pretty obvious, at this point.

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