How to be a Dictator (8 Steps)

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Somewhat Daily Musings
how to be a dictator

Sometimes your housemates decide they dont want to do their chores in the peaceful democratically-decided manner that reigned in your realm. They are abusing freedom.

But you don’t want unproductive negative freedom to get in the way of progressive positive freedom, do you? You find yourself in a position where positive freedom is something that you have to forcibly enact and maintain.

For the greater good.

~Every Well-Meaning Autocrat Ever

You have to become a dictator–just for a little while. To institute positive freedom. Until everyone comes around to the right way of thinking and you can let true democracy reign again. You can edit this seemingly contradictory part of history out later on. Here’s how.

1. Choose your Style

When your whole crew show up on time.

When your whole crew shows up on time for the thing.

Are you a silent type with a guard that carries out unvoiced commands or an unhinged type prone to unpredictable bouts of berserker violence? Or maybe you’re still pretending that democracy is a thing your society is doing and you act in public as though your population doesn’t loathe everything about you and your autocratic reign. Whatever your style, keep it consistent.

2. Decide on your Aesthetic


You gotta be fresh and clean and so do your threads and capital architecture. If we’re going with revolutionary-pretnending-we’re-still-in-revolt, I would suggest keeping the military fatigues. Maybe even upgrading to a colonial’s or admiral’s coat.

As for your capital, fleek that shit out in opulence to show other nations how unbothered you are by their so-called “enbargos”and “sanctions.” Or create a sense of despair so gray that rain clouds become the new sunshine. Either way, it should communicate to would-be rebels that your Regime is large and in charge. It should communicate to other lesser nations that everything is as fine in Youtopia as you show it to be in your reeducation pamphlets.

Did you get one, by the way?

3. Privilege Distribution.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Is 99% of the population completely under your thumb or nawl? Like, is there a tiered system of have alls, have lessers, have nothings, and Laughably Impoverishedes or is there a system in place that has You on top and everyone else happily feeding from your scraps from an equally dismal place?

The pros of a tired system means you’ll have many people content with you on top so long as they have a place at your table sitting on the backs of others. The cons: Bloody class revolt. Also, they may become sympathetic to the plight of the bottom rung and side against you. Unlikely but a liability.

That always sucks.


The other system is… Well, the human spirit is surprisingly resilient and it’ll take a lot to crush spirits and keep them in that fine powdery state without constant effort on your part. Definitely not for the non-divine.

4. Propaganda Styles

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Perhaps the most fun part of all. Give those good-for-nothing communication major comrades something to do as they tailor your message of liberation and freedom, glory and a greater tomorrow–or your message of a return to traditional values–into workable common-sense national policy. It’s important to keep a consistent narrative and sentiment to act as the glue for your nation.

(Can we just all take a moment to talk about how this temporary dictatorship plan went from house management to an alert for an international crisis?)

5. Enemies

kuvira bandits train

Pro-tip: Always show that you and your cabinet are just as affected by rations as the greater population. Emphasize the need to pull together and help one another. Ignore questions about alleged “daily feasts” and so-called “new foreign cars in every color”.

Have enemies within or enemies without but never be without enemies. Enemies are the Patrick to your totalitarian Spongebob–you need them. Are they an enemy nation that wants to take away your freedoms and impose its law on your land? Maybe it’s a group within your borders that are trying to cause chaos and are the reason for the rations. Never crush these (imagined or actually oppressed) enemies. If you catch them, set them free: it gives your soldiers something to do, your citizens somethig to rally against, and your many, many shortcomings a rationale.

And if you’re just too great to attract hate, you can always prop some folks up to play as enemies for the cameras. And don’t worry–the regime-run media will play ball. Or else.

6. Be Prepared


Always be prepared. You staged a successful coup against a hitherto peaceful republic (or other autocrat, in which case: kudos on you, rockstar) but how many failed before you? And how many are scheming as you perfect your state?

Deception. Subversion. Mutiny. Rebellion. Revolt. Coup.

All things that will happen unless you keep the closest of eyes on things. All things that will happen unless you’re willing to put the firing squad on those that need to be fire squaded upon. And sometimes those that don’t. Never be too careful.

Mama didn’t raise no democratically elected leader, so be the dictator daddy always wanted you to be and always be watching.

Several batallions of secret police let your population know you care.

7. Pull Out Game Strong


Sometimes you have to take your inner circle out of the capital because you overstepped and taxed 1% point too high. The percent that broke the camel’s back.

Things happen. Live and learn.

But you’ll only learn if you live, which means you need to pull a Houdini and Abracadabra the fuck up out of there! While you may be a lion that doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep, know when the sheep hired a hunter. And don’t be afraid to use the full force of your army that normally guards the borders to guard your mansion as you arrange for a fighter jet to take you to your safe island or an ally nation.

An empire is only as strong as its dictator.

8. Post-dictstorship

So you made Youtopia great (at least for some portion of the population). But everybody’s calling for equal rights or better standards of living or some bullshit. If you really like the place you’ve built (or they’ll imprison you outside your borders for so-called “crimes against humanity” or “gross violation of human rights”) as you give up power, make it illegal to jail you or question your actions during the time of your reign. Make pardoning you a mandatory inalienable constitutional obligatorily observed right that must be observed obligatorily by mandate.

A deserved retirement after a long time of dedicated service to the nation. // Image courtesy of lucianarose.

A deserved retirement after a long time of dedicated service to the nation. Sometimes it’s like this bus significantly more headless. // Image courtesy of lucianarose.

It usually works out.


The Author

Sage Nenyue is a hi-falootin' Cappuccino aficionado who's searching for the foundation of freedom, happiness, and personal luxury.

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