Five Simple Rules for Staying in Power
From the ruler's perspective, says Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a democracy is the worst form of government possible, because it greatly increases the ruler's risk of losing power.
In the end, Machiavelli wasn't all that Machiavellian, says professor of politics and game theory expert Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. In his later writings, the man whose name has become synonymous with political trickery advocated a republican form of government (essentially, modern democracy). From the ruler's perspective, says de Mesquita, a democracy is the worst form of government possible, because it greatly increases the ruler's risk of losing power.
From the standpoint of self-interest, which de Mesquita and other game theorists argue is the prime motivator of human action and the only reliable means of predicting what people will do in the future, rulers want one thing: to remain in power. And the best way to maintain power, says de Mesquita, is by following five simple rules – more easily followed in a dictatorship than in a democracy. And whenever possible, says de Mesquita, democratically elected leaders will alter the political landscape such that these five rules apply.
The Dictator's Handbook to Remaining in Power
1. You want to depend on as few people as possible to keep you in power.
2. You want the pool of people you could call upon to fill the role of that small group, that pool, to be as large as possible. That way, the folks who are in the small group that keep you in power know that if they are wayward, they’re easily replaced
3. You want to tax the people as highly as you can because you want revenue to enrich yourself and to bribe your cronies.
4. You want to distribute the minimum amount of that revenue that you can get away with – just enough to keep your coalition loyal to you. You want as much of the money left over for your own discretion as possible.
5. If at all possible, you don't want to use the revenue to improve the lives of your people because a) it's more expensive than paying off a few cronies and b) see rule 1 – if the people are your coalition –i.e. the ones you've got to pay off to remain in power – your risk of losing power is much greater.
Watch de Mesquita here:
Follow Jason Gots (@jgots) on Twitter
Image credit: Shutterstock.com
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.
- China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
- Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
- Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
- Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
- Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
- But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.