How to Fall from Power with Style

December 11, 2008

While your Beloved Leader is not going anywhere,  it is certainly true that for other dictators, a fall from grace is not necessarily inevitable, but it certainly is likely. A quick look at the history books tells us that most dictators do not retire voluntarily. The lucky few die of old age in office. The not-so-lucky many get stabbed, beaten, overthrown, exiled, indicted and much more, and the majority of them do not handle it well. There have been temper tantrums, recantations and some very unflattering outfits. If you want history to look kindly upon you many years from now, falling out of power with style is essential. Print out this convenient guide and hang it on the refrigerator so that, should that fateful day arrive, you’ll be prepared. Because a wary and paranoid dictator is a good dictator.

What to do when:

  • You’re indicted for crimes against humanity.

This one’s a toughie and no matter which way you look at it, your dictating days are over. However, you can still save your skin. But if you can’t dictate, how much is that skin worth? This is a question you need to ask yourself before considering any action.

If you suddenly remembered the billions you funneled out of your country before all this crimes against humanity crap came up, you are probably ready to take action and beat this thing so that you can retire peacefully to a quiet island in the south seas. An island that you can buy with the oodles of cash you embezzled.

So now you need to consider who is indicting you. Some crimes against humanity raps are easier to beat than others. Hissene Habre, for example, fled the land he ruled, Chad, when he was deposed in 1990 and found a comfortable life in exile in Senegal. Thanks to a mountain of evidence against him, he was indicted on charges of torture and crimes against humanity by a Senegalese judge. However, the Senegalese Supreme Court ruled that he could not be tried there.

Being indicted in a single nation is a much easier hurdle to overcome than being indicted by the international war crimes tribunal. There are so many obstacles to actually locking you up, extradition being the biggest one.

However, even if the forces against you are successful in their attempts to put you on trial and you are extradited and all the rest, there’s still hope. Learn from our friend Pinochet and claim you are mentally unfit to stand trial. It’s not even a lie! It’s pretty obvious that you couldn’t be in possession of all your marbles given all the atrocities you’ve inflicted on the world.

Another successful strategy is ignoring it, admirably demonstrated by Slobodan Milosevic who refused to recognize the legality of the court that had him on trial. At first, he was his own counsel, but thanks to some health problems, he was appointed counsel that he refused to cooperate with. He didn’t win in the sense of walking away from the whole thing, but he gained quite a lot of popular support back home and a whole lot of his cronies are back in power, which means that his legacy may live on to inspire a whole new generation of young autocrats. The only thing better than dictating is becoming a legendary dictator.

  • The war you declared on the entire world does not go exactly as planned and you lose.

Judging from what happened to our beloved Hitler, you may be in for a tough time. Regardless of all those rumours that Hitler is still alive and living comfortably in Bolivia, we are all grown up enough, I think, to accept the fact the little mustached man is dead. Dead because the war he declared on the whole world took a rather disastrous turn and he lost. But maybe he didn’t have to die.

If we look at Japan, another country that declared war on the entire world, or rather joined in the war already in progress, we see that the emperor of that nation led a long and satisfying life after the war. He even remained emperor, although he did have to give up his divinity. How did he pull this marvelous feat off? He let the Americans have their way with his country, a key dictatorial strategy to be discussed in greater detail another day.

So if you lose that war, pick out the most muscle-bound winner and start batting your pretty eyelashes. Bending over may also be useful.

  • The dissidents you sent to your work camps escape, band together and come after you.

To my knowledge, this has never actually happened. Although there have been escapes from work camps, it seems that the dissidents were too useless to band together and take you down. However, given today’s new breed of tougher, crazier dissidents, just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t.

I’m assuming that it’s more than just your cranky ex-neighbour and his sister coming after you. If you are the kind of dictator worth overthrowing, there should be something like a mass exodus from the work camps and all of those lemmings coming straight at you. In which case, you can take the money and run or you can see how loyal your troops really are. An organized uprising gives any previously unsuspected dissenters a free pass to get rid of you. Have you nurtured your army enough? Have you taken good care of your secret police? Are they better off with you in power? In this situation, you need to ask yourself how lucky you feel.

  • Your generals successfully stage a coup d’état to throw you out of power.

This situation almost always results in immediate execution. If they offer you a last cigarette, take it. It will give those watching the impression that you couldn’t be less affected by your imminent death, a fact that is sure to be noted by future historians. Think legacy, people. No need to be concerned about the ill effects of smoking; you won’t be dying of lung cancer.

  • The United States invades your country, blows up many essential services and kills many of your unarmed citizenry before hunting you down and:
    • Capturing you to “interrogate” you
    • Capturing you to have you stand trial
    • Capturing you to have you stand trial only the trial is rigged and you’re looking at electrocution
    • All of the above

Well, if it’s come to this, it’s clear that you didn’t cozy up to this nation hellbent on hegemony and now you’re paying the price. You and Saddam. Basically, all of the above situations boil down to: you’ve had it. At this point, it’s clear that your country has been hording resources, such as oil, that the United States wishes to possess and you have not been dealing with them in the manner they imperiously insist upon. Once the bombing starts, it’s too late for you to open your welcoming arms to them. They’ll prop up their own puppet government to replace you, you will most likely be in the public eye for a while and then you’ll “disappear”. Whether you’re put on trial, tortured or interrogated, the end result will be electrocution or some other unpublicized demise. The best you can hope for now is that the squad of suicide bombers and terrorists you have been carefully nurturing don’t forget their mission to get out there and avenge your death.

Whatever you do, don’t cry and beg for mercy. Only babies cry and beg for mercy.

  • A peasant uprising is successful and you are:
    • Thrown in jail to await a trial by a jury of your peons
    • Thrown in jail with no hope of a trial, but rather with the expectation of lifelong imprisonment
    • Thrown in jail with no hope of trial, but rather the certain knowledge of beheading soon

Sorry. The trial and imprisonment generally lead to beheading. Imminent beheading is almost impossible to get out of. If you can get out of jail, you could run and collect the tattered remains of your mighty army, but chances are, if they caught you and put you in jail and are setting up the guillotine as you read this, you don’t have much hope. The tattered remains are probably denying you as you read this. I suggest you find yourself a nice chapeau. There’ll most likely be photographers at this beheading of yours and a jaunty chapeau could do wonders for your legend.

  • In your office when they find you and attempt to kill you
  • In your home when they find you and attempt to kill you

See the assassination attempts below on how to foil these would-be assassins. If you successfully foil their attempts to kill you, kill them. If you are outnumbered and have no chance of succeeding in your attempts to dispose of them, run, get your army or what’s left of it, come back and take care of them. The key here is get rid of the peasants in your home or office. They sully these locations with their presence. Once the peasants have been “removed”, have your home and/or office destroyed, taking out only those personal possessions which have not been manhandled by those dirty peasant paws. Build new facilities to replace your office/home; facilities more glorious than those the peons forced you to destroy. Use up as much of the national health care budget as possible. The key to real style is living large.

  • Vacationing in the south of France at the time

C’mon. You’re in France, with millions of your country’s monetary units. Do you really want to go back to the headache of recapturing your country? Sure, all the dissident executions would be a good time, but so is the backrub in the sun you’re currently receiving. Go buy yourself a new hat, work on that tan. Take a break and start a new country somewhere else later. Or live like a king as all dictators in exile do.

  • Said to be vacationing in the south of France at the time, but in fact, are hanging out in a fellow dictator’s basement playing Playstation because you are too cheap to spring for a vacation in the south of France

Lie about your location, send out press releases denouncing the uprising and get in touch with your generals to make a plan to take your country back. You don’t want to be in that basement forever. Use love propaganda to win the hearts of your citizenry back. Point out how you are returning from hard negotiations with the French for more money and wine for your beloved peons. Schmooze them while your army slaughters the leaders of the rebellion in the night and all is set for your triumphant return. The faster, the better. It smells like mildew in that basement. If that smell gets into your clothes, no one will ever call you stylish again.

  • Several assassination plots come to fruition simultaneously and you are any or all of the following:
    • Shot
    • Stabbed
    • Poisoned
    • Suffocated with a household object

With these relatively normal assassination methods, you may have a chance. Survival rates for gunshot wounds have increased dramatically over the past few decades, along with those for stabbings. As long as you’re not poisoned by the brown recluse spider, there’s probably an antidote. And the only really dangerous household objects, in terms of suffocating potential, are the pillows or the plastic bags, both of which are easily removed.

The thing that really counts in this situation is the quick action of your trusted advisors. Someone’s got to take you to the hospital and, if you’ve been menacing the citizenry effectively, they’re probably the only ones willing to do. To help these guys do their job, keep a wide variety of antidotes in stock in your luxurious home and the numbers of emergency medical personnel pinned to your underpants. When it comes to assassination, the key is being prepared. Of course, if your trusted advisors are behind the whole thing, you can kiss your divine self good-bye.

These at-home assassination attempts are a warning to you to put the sweatpants away. In fact, don’t bother putting them away; you’ll never ever take them out again. Just burn them right now. I said now. You don’t want to have one of those assassins succeed and the photo that graces history books is of you in an old T-shirt and those ratty sweatpants. That’s not the way you want to be remembered.

However, prepared or not, there’s no way you’re getting out of any of the following unique situations alive or with your dignity intact. If you do survive, it might just be a good idea to give up the whole dictating thing. Clearly, you just don’t have what it takes if you are taken by such tacky methods.

  • Attacked with a dirty soup spoon
  • Macheted

We all know that dirty soup spoons cause AIDS, which is a treatable disease, it’s true. But combine that soup spoon attack with being macheted and well, you’re pushing up the daisies.

  • Set upon by zombies


  • Forced to drink can after can of Korean rice drinks

If you are forced to drink Korean rice drinks, you must truly be an execrable demon to earn that kind of hatred. You deserve to be removed from the face of the earth.

  • Set upon by prostitutes

If they have no weapons, you can probably take them, with or without the aid of your secret police. But most likely, these ladies of the night are wearing dangerously high heels and an abundance of pointy jewelry which they will not hesitate to use to take you down. If you can’t run, pull hair and gouge eyes until loss of blood weakens you to the point of unconsciousness. Once you fall unconscious, it’s very likely that they will use the power contained in their make-up cases to cause you eternal embarrassment. You must drag yourself away at any cost, so that you can at least die rouge-free.

  • Drowned

Can you swim? No? Are you wearing a bathing suit? Yes? Do you have any kind of weights attached to any part of your body? Yes? Try to hit yourself on the head with one of the weights and knock yourself unconscious. You’ll suffer less that way. And at least your lifeless corpse will sink to the bottom of the body of water, allowing your bathing-suited body to remain unseen. If you try to get out of the water, there will inevitably be witnesses to the flab that has been growing during your soft years at the top. No one wants that.


One Response to “How to Fall from Power with Style”

  1. I bookmarked your blog, thanks for sharing this very interesting post

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