The Doctrine of Perfect Dictatorship: How to Rule with an Iron Fist, or be Doomed Trying

The questions about revolution, of how and why it happens; have been on my mind constantly, on different periods of my life. And of course, recently, with all that has happened everywhere, they have become a much stronger voice in my mind (along with that other voice in the back of my head that keeps saying “You’re hot!” to my housemate, whenever he come out of his room shirtless, which is very often!*).

Now, I thought about writing this post a lot. It took forever to write it, since my analogy seemed confusing to even me: Too many variables. As a matter of fact, I wrote a post almost a month ago, and then tore it (in a digital sense), and started writing this just on 12th of December.

Since I believe revolution is a product of a lot of things, I decided to act like I am writing a recipe for a not so much tasty food. Actually, this would taste like blood, and smells like death.

Ingredients:

  • One weak minded dictator,
  • Ideological dictatorship,
  • One none-democratic system of governance,
  • One military force not under complete control of the dictator,
  • One economic crisis (Preferably with unemployment),
  • Cities, with the ability of generating crowds of people,

Now, the above “ingredients” seem trivial, and they are. Of course whoever reads history knows that for example Tsar Nicholas II, Louis XVI, Shah of Iran, Mubarak, etc. were weak dictators; nor anybody doubts this as a fact that most revolutions happened while there was an economic crisis going on.

The ingredients are important, as later on we will try to develop an explanation for why they end up in a blood bath. But first we need to try and define what is a revolution? If the political regime of a country is overthrown by masses (big crowds) of people, and a completely new regime has taken its place, a revolution has happened. In here we see that a revolution differs from a coup d’état, which is when a regime is overthrown without the masses of people having anything to do with it.

Now we come to the important question: How do revolutions happen?

I believe it to be a game of power between people and the dictator, that unfortunately is in a form of a very bloody vicious circle. The dictatorship in a normal mode is in a sense in “equilibrium”. That is, people know there is dictatorship, and feel it both in bureaucratic system of governance and specially the ideological dictatorship (dictator’s belief is law, and others cannot object). But at the time there are equal forces on each side: A military force that backs the dictator, and a secret police force that can handle the opposition (as individuals).

Then something happens that break the equilibrium: Most likely an economical crisis of the recession sort, with unemployment. There would be a certain percentage of dissatisfied crowd of people, that becomes the core of the bigger revolutionary mass. It is a crowds tendency to grow, and this growth will continue much more rapidly with the incentive of the existence of such core. That unemployed crowd is like a Catalysis for this process, and as the recession continues, this core becomes more and more persistent.

A weak dictator at this point will use brute force and violence to silence people. But this answer will only add to the peoples incentive to gather more, to organise strikes, and to chose more violent methods of their own. Also, people individually are different from each other, but as a part of a crowd, their opposition with the ideological dictatorship becomes their slogan, and under that slogan they will gather, and chose leaders.

The process will go on, as a brutal game of life and death, with the dictator using more force, and people gathering in bigger masses and becoming more hysteric. This continues, until the military forces start joining the people, which triggers the final stage of the battle, that usually ends up with the execution of the dictator, if he (or maybe she) is caught of course.

The results of such analogy are as follows:

  1. I’m afraid that revolutions are somehow inevitable. Such combination will most likely end in a bloody battle, and the more unfortunate thing is, after the revolution things will most likely be much worse: Look at Iran, Russia, France. The exception is Romania and other USSR “satellite” countries. Also the results of recent Middle Eastern revolutions are to be seen.
  2. If a dictator wants to stop a revolution from happening, there are two ways: One is, in the beginning he (or she) should come down from power, or at least avoid using brute force. This seems unlikely since as said our dictator is a weak minded one, and using brute force is what they may not be able to avoid.
    The other way is quite the reverse: Make your dictatorship a complete totalitarianism. Shut down every social media, every communication that the people (masses) can have, in order to stop them from gathering. This is hard and frankly impossible without a huge bureaucratic system of governance. But if the dictator can make it happen (like Stalin or Hitler did), no revolution can ever begin.
    So, overall, the dictatorship should either be as soft as a democracy, or as hard as the totalitarianism to survive a revolution.

____________________________

* He is hot, and straight!

Advertisements

A Hypothetical Case for an Economical Question: Would You Die for a Billion Dollars?

When I was studding for my bachelor degree, we had a professor who was teaching us principles of economics. He had this habit of asking these peculiar, but relevant to economic analysis questions that were (and still sometimes are) food for my thought. One of these questions was about the price of death, and not just anyone’s death: It was about our murder!

Imagine, that there is a very rich psychopathic murderer, by the name Mr. X, who takes pleasure in killing people. But like many psychopaths, he has a set of rules that have to be obeyed. The rule is, the killer gives a choice to the people whom he wants to kill: He can either not kill them and let them go, or he can give them one billion dollars, leave them to do whatever they want to do for a month, but then kill them definitely after that time has passed. Assuming the victims cannot escape this choice, and assuming they cannot do anything about their pending death in the future if they accept the deal, and they know this, will they accept his deal? Will YOU accept his deal?

It’s a bit like the movie “saw”, but I don’t think our professor had seen that one, because then he would have given “more” choices to the victims!

I don’t remember my exact answer to the question at the time, but the question itself remained in my mind. I came up with this answer some time ago:

Take into account two extreme situations: The first is the situation that one will “always” accept the offer, and the other is the situation that one will “never” accept it. Keep in mind that we choose an economical point of view, and we are after economical reasons for accepting (or not accepting) the offer, so we assume Ceteris paribus, which means other reasons involved in that particular choice are fixed in the economical analysis.

Now, what would be a situation in which someone will most definitely reject the offer? It seems most likely that this is the normal situation, because obviously most people will definitely reject the offer of the killer. But, if we are after a solid rejection without any hesitation, it may be the case of an 18 year old who already has 100 billion dollars. No person like this will ever accept the offer.

Now comes the interesting part: Who will most definitely accept the offer? A 75 year old with no money at all? Maybe, but not definitely. So, who would that situation be?

How about this: A person with no money at all, and with complete knowledge over the fact  that he or she will be dead in 3 weeks as a result of a heart attack? This seems to be the economical situation in which a person will surely say yes to the our Mr. X, the psychopathic killer.

And where is our answer? It seems that we can recognize two different variables here: One is the psychological satisfaction that a person gains from that billion (which is the same as Utility in economics), and the other is the victim’s expectation from the future of his/her life. It would be highly likely that if the victim expects a long life, he/she will not accept the deal.

We should have in mind that these two are also co-related, since if we “know” that there will be no [economical] joy in our lives, we will consider accepting the offer. And no matter how much money we have, if we “know” that we are going to die in 3 weeks, we will consider taking the deal.

_______________________________

So, what is the moral of the story? Life is as precious as our expectations out of it. But since most of the times we cannot see the future of our lives, we expect too much out of it. Could it be why we are so much afraid of death?

The Science of Loss, with a Little Bit of Luck

There is a new TV show called “Red or Black?” on ITV1. It is a guessing game in form of a TV competition, and Ant & Dec are its presenters. In each episode, they start by 1000 people, and in each level of the game, they ask them “Red or Black?”. Then there is an event based on luck to determine which choice is going to win, red or black, and the ones who chose it will rise to another level. This goes on until finally 1 person remains, and in the final level there is again a 50 – 50 percent chance that he or she wins £ 1000000.

Now, apart from “What on earth is this? Just flip a damn coin!”, there are two facts  in this program which are visible from the first episode. One is, the losers of higher level, have a lot more disappointment than the losers of lower levels. Secondly, if on the last level red has won, the participants are more willing to choose black.

One: Now, the first fact seems trivial. Of course people that are closer to a million Pounds are more disappointed for losing the bet. But let’s look at it from another angle: Didn’t those who enter the competition know that this was a 1 in a 1000 chance? If they knew this from the beginning, if they expected it, why are they “more” disappointed on higher levels?

To better illustrate this, let’s compare “Red or Black?” to another hypothetical game: Imagine a simple game, in which 1 person is randomly chosen from 1000 people, and is given the same chance of final choice between Red or Black by lottery. This game is fairly the same as the original “Red or Black?”, but only the process of reaching to the final stage is different.

Those who lose in our hypothetical game will be disappointed, but all equally, and just a little, compared to the people losing in a high level of “Red or Black?”

These two games produce the same results, they both choose 1 person randomly who may or may not win a million pounds. The only thing is, in the process “Red or Black?” creats much more disappointment and psychological stress.

But Why?

There may be a number of reasons, but all of them must be related to the structure of the game. The main reason is, as “Red or Black?” goes on, the contestants think they are closer to the 1000000 pounds, and indeed they are: it’s more probable to be the winner among 2 people, than it is among 64 or 128. So, each stage creates a new level of expectations for the remaining contestants, and by remaining in the game they win a higher chance of having the prize.

Yes, they don’t “actually” win anything by remaining in the game, they win one more chance. What a colorful sight! Too bad it is an illusion…

This also creates higher opportunity costs for time the participants are spending, and if that does not seem much, the cost of their stress is. My conclusion, compared to the hypothetical example is that, this game is economically inefficient for the participants. And therefore, it is safe to say that those who lose on higher levels of “Red or Black?” actually lose more!

Do I have a general point here? Yes: There may be many games (including different  economic systems) that produce similar or the same  results. But we should not forget that the way of doing things also affects the players, and creates different hidden costs. Take US and Scandinavian countries for example. They are all developed countries, but which one is more efficient in terms of welfare of their population?

________________________________

Second: Imagine you are playing with a coin. You have already flipped it once, and it was Heads. If you wanted to flip the coin again, which one do you think is more likely to come: Heads or Tails?

The answer is none of them, they both have an equal chance of showing up: The probability is always the same: 50 – 50. The fact that we think “It has been 2 times Black already, this time it should be Red!” Is just a trick that our minds play on us. In these kind of games, what has happened has got nothing to do with the probability of what is about to happen.