A Dictator's Handbook

Current social and political climate is a great puzzle: people challenging the most powerful individuals and institutions, people protesting against losing their exclusive grip on power, people being offended when their economic disadvantages are linked to their dietary preferences... It seems that the world these days has descended into some form of a chaotic cacophony of voices screaming about (ir)relevant things.

What happened to the strong, silent type of a leader? The one who can get things done and stand up to all the darkness and terrors that the global interconnected world created? If you believe you have the good old-school Roman dictator-quality in you, the following articulate and laconic guide will help you establish the foundation of your regime.

Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.
— Orwell, G. 1984

  • Type of regime

First of all, you need to decide on the key message behind your  Regime (or Enterprise).

Some ideas that history has proven successful: building a better tomorrow, making your country great again, taking back control, advancing a race/nation and establishing its global dominance over all other undeserving humans. Pick one that feels holistic to your country and roll with it. Make sure to make it the core of all your communication.

  • Allies

Any successful Enterprise requires a strong team behind it. It is up to you, the almighty, to choose whether you want to pick military or spiritual groups as your main partners in crime.  These guys will be there to recruit the masses into your flock, to police their behaviour and to sustain your leadership in the many prosperous years to come.

Chose those that already have a strong command of the populace, then form them into a new institution devoted to the one rightful commander, and compensated generously.

Be careful though, as Cersei Lannister’s example shows us, you should not give too much power (and ammunition) to your allies. Make them your aids, not competitors. 

  • Women

Those guys are more fearsome than any religious or military leader you can think of (no joke). They might seem weaker than an average male specimen, but do not be fooled! They have been oppressed for centuries (literally!) and learnt the fine art of resilience and creative ways of overcoming any oppressor.

Make sure you take away their right to equality, command of their bodies, followed by their right to work, own property, and vote. Convince your populace of all genders that women’s highest achievement in life is to produce fine healthy offspring and cater for men building a better world for us all. The trick is to make the society police every aspect of women’s life, thus curbing the likelihood of female revolt. 

 

 Photo by Atypeek/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Atypeek/iStock / Getty Images

  • The Other

You’ll need to give your folks some opium. It won’t be a piece of cake for them to work day in and out to make your great Enterprise prosperous, strong and fearsome. Some fellow dictators chose to aid the pain of physical labour and miserable pay with a promise of a better tomorrow, or a blessed afterlife, or a stronger superhuman race that they were building.

We have a better recipe: hardworking people under your command do not necessarily require a generous compensation or a pompous promise to follow your lead, but rather someone to feel superior to. It will make it much easier for them to slave away for your benefit if they’re thinking that they’re going through hardship to defend their Motherland against The Other. There is plenty of groups to marginalise: think White Walkers, European Union, refugees, liberals; history and literature offer plenty of examples to choose from.

We find it best to continue to pick on whomever your predecessors have been scapegoating.

 British Museum, London, UK. 2015

British Museum, London, UK. 2015

  • Information: production and consumption

Take control of all media (just in case). Declare all alternative, guerrilla, independent media contradicting your agenda “fake news” or “enemy conspiracies”.

Dystopian writers differ on whether it is better to preach your key messages in the evening or in the morning, so better do both. Do not be shy to dismiss seemingly relevant and factual statements as a foreign attempt to weaken your governance with lies.

Undermine and demonise the rebels as trying to harm your people, create a constant feeling of panic and fear.

  • Fear

Fear is your friend. Let it reign over the people, by your side. Make your subjects afraid of The Other, women, fellow men, and, most importantly, of yourself. Also, make them terrified of losing you, least a worse option come in your place. 

 rural Russia, 2015

rural Russia, 2015

  • Knowledge is power

Make education inaccessible to the majority, either through a skyrocketed price of higher education, or through a drastic drop in its quality.

Police the curricula: pay special attention to history, art and science. It is up to you to control the past (and re-write it, if needed), to build a better future. It is also up to you to command artistic thought of writers, sculptors, painters, to help them envision the beautiful world of tomorrow that your Enterprise is building.  It is also up to you to set the course of scientific discovery, whose eureka moments must always serve your agenda, and never undermine it.

Do not let women and The Other in place of higher education at all, least they get some ideas about how to stand against you.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
— Orwell, G. 1984

  • Simplify the language
It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words
— Orwell, G. 1984

Emojis are your best friends. The more you simplify the language, the more challenging it becomes for your people to construct a counter-argument to whatever it is you are preaching.
Dedicate special trainings to your communication team, enabling them to confuse populace with “alternative facts” and complicated language.

  • Entertain them to death

Give your subjects some minor freedoms and access to some basic needs: make food, alcohol, human interaction easily accessible, “on their fingertips”. Overwhelm them with entertainment, new Netflix series, D-list celebrity gossip, body shaming and other pleasurable vices. Anything to keep their pretty little heads from paying attention to politics. 

 Photo by Nikada/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Nikada/iStock / Getty Images

Never put off till tomorrow the fun you can have today.
— Huxley, A. Brave New World

  • Be The Big Brother

Make sure they know that you can see every step they make, but are not necessarily looking at all times. Make some of them paranoid. Make others accept the “no privacy” clause.

Make all of them vulnerably visible on the Internet, mobile, TV, on the streets, in their banks, in their homes. Tell them it’s to fight The Other, or terrorism in general. 

 Photo by Fabian19/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Fabian19/iStock / Getty Images

  • Last, but not the least

Police the boundaries you have established with extreme care. Do not let any one of them be challenged even to the smallest extent. This is where The Resistance begins.

 


References:

S. Lewis, It can’t happen here

G. Orwell, 1984

A. Huxley, Brave New World

M. Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish

N. Machiavelli, The Prince

S. Tzu, The Art of War