View Full Version : Info on how a dictator rises to power.

Luke flees the scene
04-21-2007, 07:27 PM
In this huge story I've been planning and drawing up for the past three or four months, ( which is definately going to take up at least four or five books), I'm needing to know just how a dictator rises to power. I have a character, ( who I don't have a name for yet,) who's a politician, and has a lust for power and for things to be the way he sees them. I'm planning this series to have different sub-trilogies, and by the last sub-trilogy, it's about the end of the world and how this character becomes a dictator and decieves everyone into following his will. ( By the way, this character is only one of the main antagonists. He's just the antagonist in the last three books. There's also the Lord of Shadows, the Dream Eater, ect.)

How many different ways could I lead the readers up to this? When the character's first introduced in the story, he seems like a nice, normal guy. But as the story progresses, you'd become more and more wary of him becuase of some of the things he requests the Senate to do, and some of the things he says.

But anyway, I mainly just need to know how a dictator rises to power. Any help is appreciated.

04-22-2007, 08:41 AM
You might read some biographies of known dictators. I'm sure many rose to power through military coups. Hitler rose through legal means. Leading a revolution and then not establishing a democratic government once the leader is in power is common. "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely," and all that.


04-22-2007, 08:43 AM
Always make sure he suger coats what he's doing with pretty words like "The greater good" and "Protecting them from themselves."

Be subtle, and always make sure that the guy is absolutely convinzed that he is "in the right"

Those are the most dangerous people in the world.

04-22-2007, 09:01 AM
Check out Machiavelli's The Prince for a tongue in cheek way to make your way up in the political world. Or, as Deadly Accurate suggests, find some biographies of dictators and read how they did it.

04-22-2007, 09:03 AM
I thouch Machivaelli was being serious...

04-23-2007, 05:04 AM
I thouch Machivaelli was being serious...

He was most certainly in earnest when he wrote The Prince -- hardly tongue-in-cheek.

I can see, however, some people may find it a bit over-the-top if attempting to apply its tenets to making one's "way up in the political world." Perhaps that's what Cath meant?

Actually, I would recommend Sun Zi's The Art of War for making one's way up anywhere -- much more applicable, and subtle. Tattered & Torn, you might want to take a look at this book -- it would be a good analytical complement to reading those biographies.

04-23-2007, 05:16 AM
But anyway, I mainly just need to know how a dictator rises to power. Any help is appreciated.

How about Paxton's analysis:


04-23-2007, 05:17 AM
It was written as a satire, I believe. :)

Sohia Rose
04-23-2007, 05:40 AM
A lot of dictators usually rise to power in the right social climate. The populace is usually down on their luck, jobless, angry with the current leadership, and they are looking for a savior, someone who says all the right things, and oftentimes say the “wrong” things; but many times, the wrong things are overlooked.

And in my personal opinion, I believe that many dictators have some kind of genius or salesmanship because many people support them, at least early on. They can “sell it,” sell a vision of hope and unity. I also believe they have to have a mean streak because if they are disobeyed, they must show others that their ill actions will be swiftly dealt with. I’m also inclined to say that they must have military ties or warrant military leadership, at least in their eyes.

04-23-2007, 05:41 AM
It was written as a satire, I believe. :)

I think Machiavelli was trying to be serious. He was in trouble with the Florentine elite (some Medici or other) for his Republican sympathies.
He picks C. Borgia as his ideal trickster "prince" ( and C. Borgia had been running some Papal vassals for the Pope his Uncle with the technical assistance of L da Vinci for cartography at least)...not a particularly unserious choice at that time (about 10 years after the end of the Borgia Papacy, I think). I think the serious point he made was that State power was a deadly serious business, no matter what. Even if described by a comedian like Machiavelli.

04-23-2007, 02:16 PM
I believe you want:

Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook (Paperback)
by Edward N. Luttwak (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/104-3081357-0779937?%5Fencoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Edward%20N.%20Luttwak) (Author)

(Amazon link (http://www.amazon.com/Coup-d%C3%89tat-Practical-Edward-Luttwak/dp/0674175476/ref=sr_1_1/104-3081357-0779937?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1177323320&sr=8-1))

I've not read this one. However, I've often seen it cited.

04-23-2007, 03:11 PM
That seems like a most interesting read :)

04-23-2007, 05:15 PM
Imo, Sokal is right about Machiavelli.

Now, for a real story about grabbing and holding power, research the tale of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China. Pay particular attention to the role of his advisor, Li Si. Then read the works of Han Fei Tzu, the source of Li Si's methodology. From this, you will glean exactly those things a dictator should do to be successful. Then, you can move on to Three Faces of Fascism (http://www.amazon.com/Three-Faces-Fascism-Francaise-Socialism/dp/0030554055/ref=sr_1_2/103-8573116-2435816?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1177333975&sr=1-2) (if you can find a copy), to see how this plays out in the modern world. To know why this all works, you can read Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism (http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Totalitarianism-Hannah-Arendt/dp/0156701537).

That's what I would do, anyway. :)

04-23-2007, 05:37 PM
Imo, Sokal is right about Machiavelli.

I claimed that Machiavelli was trying to be serious in The Prince...
Still, there is something horribly comic about the masking and unmasking of the bases of state power. Frederick the Great (who was a classic dictator despite being a legitmate King in Prussia, as well as being an "Enlightened Despot" and conspirator against his Father and writer and Friend of Voltaire) wrote a book called Antimachiavelli (which I have not read) and then said, "The first thing a real Machiavellian should do is write a book against Machiavelli."

That should make you wonder, if the comedy is not even more horrible at times than the seriousness, as when the Italians attack Eithiopia in 1935.


04-23-2007, 08:58 PM
What, it can't be serious and satirical?

Anyway - back to the discussion at hand. :)

Well...it was a completely serious undertaking for Niccolo. Personnally he hated tyranny, but the mess that Italy was in at the time apparently suggested that since tyrannies were inevitable, they might at least be effective and efficient tyrannies. So he undertook to reduce state power to its naked essence. A very serious matter. Now, of course, it looks a bit comical or even satirical to us since we have seen so much worse in the last century or so. To us it does seem laughable that a despot would ever be hindered by a shred of a ghost of any kind of human decency. Of course, we say, anyone would rule through lies and masks and spin and assassination and doublecrossing friends and changing sides and finding scapegoats. But I think Machiavelli was quite earnest in writing the Prince.

04-24-2007, 12:55 AM
I believe general fear has something to do with it. The populace should fear something that the would be dicator can prey on.

04-24-2007, 01:20 AM
Just ask our very own JeanneTGC & Scarlet Peaches. Both rose to power are ruthless queens/dictators on our very own board. :)

The Scip
04-24-2007, 02:10 AM
hitler, mussolini and fransisco frano all had different rises to power prior to WWII. If I had to sum it up I would say economic hardship and the hope of ending it could lead to dictatorship. Although thats a very general answer.

04-25-2007, 11:18 AM
A recent article in The Guardian: