“Somehow, people always forget that it’s much easier to install a dictator than to remove one”
― Garry Kasparov, Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped
by Rick Bretz
The expression “drunk with power” is available for all of us to use for a reason. History shows us when psychopaths gain power bad things happen.
Two serial programs in the documentary show classification are available on Netflix that demonstrate the power of intimidation and the spoken word. The two programs cover the career path of tyrants and what happens at the end of the road to perdition.
“One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”
― George Orwell, 1984
The first series “How to Become a Tyrant”, as the title suggests, is a step by step game plan outlining how past dictators rose to power. The most important attribute on the road to tyranny may be PATIENCE. One episode points to many examples of potential tyrants planning and deferring their time to strike .
“Dictatorship, by whatever name, is founded on the doctrine that the individual amounts to nothing; that the State is the only one that counts; and that men and women and children were put on earth solely for the purpose of serving the state.”
― Harry S. Truman
The second serial program is “Tokyo Trials”, a program that calls into question how to deal with a nation’s leadership after the destruction. With insight and historical records from the Japanese Word War II war crimes trials in Tokyo from 1946 to 1948, the documentary asks the question “Who is responsible and for how much” of the killing and aggression.
Back to how the tyrant becomes one. The Tyrant documentary features several historical heads of state who .have used a blow torch of destruction over the years. These range from the obvious, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, to Muammar Gaddafi , Idi Amin, and Saddam Hussein. More than presenting names, the show covers how these bad guys rose to power and what was the strategy that got them to their zenith.
The overall roadmap to gaining power is covered in six steps that are the episodes of the series. The check off list for becoming a tyrant is:
- Seize Power
- Crush Your Rivals
- Reign Through Terror
- Control the Truth
- Create a New Society
- Rule Forever
As the show suggests, seizing power is not as simple as it seems. The key rests in the restless messenger and the message. The “my enemies are your enemies” strategy and the ability to be one with the people serves the future dictator well. However, this “I’m with you because I am you” tactic can change to “Appointed by God” or “I am God” as in the case of North Korea’s Kim Dynasty.
The “How to Become a Tyrant” programs are narrated by one of the best voices out there, Peter Dinklage. Yes, the Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones” lore. The sardonic and derisive tone of the script language and Dinklage’s delivery obscures the true sadistic nature of the tyrants that made the list for the show. They even bring up a few you may have forgotten over the years.
This brings up the last one, Rule Forever. Holding on to power may be more difficult than gaining it and as history shows, retribution can be a cold, hard truth–Looking at you Muammar Gaddafi and Nicolae Ceaușescu.
All of this to bring up the second docu-drama, the Tokyo Trials on Netflix.
It’s the testimonial part. Once the fire has been doused, if the tyrant gets a chance, there some explaining to do or finger pointing, if the judges buy the defense.
Because once the storm is over, there will be a reckoning. And if a Tyrant is lucky to live through the initial outrage, after the re-taking of power, sometimes the victors are magnanimous and have trials to determine crime and punishment for the responsibility all of the destruction.
The Tokyo Trials demonstrates to the viewer how the trial judges from 11 nations applied civilized law to an uncivilized idea, the engaging of war against nations and crimes associated with waging war as a political strategy. Beginning in 1946 and lasting more than 2 years, testimony from several war defendants were heard, before sentences were handed down. The judges considered crimes of aggression, conventional war crimes as well as crimes against humanity.
The program’s producers use historical footage edited with trial recreations to form an accurate scholarship of the proceedings. The allied judges reference the Nuremberg trials often through the series for comparison with the Japanese and German war criminals.
Back to the tyrants. The interesting part to me when watching the How to be a Tyrant series is that the play book can be applied to everyday tyrants we have to deal with during our day to day activities. To a lesser degree, let’s face it, there are tyrants waiting to strike everywhere. Remember patience is a key attribute.
Here’s the List
Office Tyrants (Stop Crushing Your Rivals)
Social Media Virtual Meeting Tyrants (Stop Trying to Control the Truth)
Family Tyrants (Stop Trying to Seize Power)
Bar and Pub Tyrants (Stop Reigning through Terror)
Highway Tyrants (Stop Trying to Rule Forever)
Community Organization Tyrants (Stop Trying to Create a New Society)
That’s just the short list. So for all of these tyrants,let someone else be in charge for once!