The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics - A Revolutionary Theory of Political Survival
The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics Epub
Have you ever wondered why some leaders are benevolent and democratic, while others are ruthless and tyrannical? Why some countries are prosperous and peaceful, while others are poor and violent? Why some people enjoy freedom and rights, while others suffer oppression and injustice?
The Dictators Handbook Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics Epub
If you have, then you might be interested in reading The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics, a book by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith. The book is based on a theory of political survival that explains how leaders do whatever keeps them in power, regardless of the national interest or the welfare of their subjects. The book shows that the difference between democrats and dictators is not a matter of morality or ideology, but a matter of numbers. The size of the group that a leader needs to please to stay in power determines almost everything about politics: what leaders can get away with, and the quality of life or misery under them.
In this article, we will give you an overview of the main arguments and insights of the book, as well as some examples and applications. We will also provide you with a link to download the epub version of the book for free, so you can read it on your preferred device. Whether you are a student of politics, a curious citizen, or a potential leader, this book will challenge your assumptions and make you think differently about how the world works.
The Rules of Politics
The authors start from a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power. They don't care about the "national interest" or even their subjects unless they have to. This may sound cynical, but it is based on rational choice theory, which assumes that people act in their own self-interest. The authors argue that this assumption applies to all leaders, whether they are elected or appointed, democratic or autocratic, religious or secular.
But how do leaders stay in power? The authors introduce a simple model that consists of three groups: the nominal selectorate, the real selectorate, and the winning coalition. The nominal selectorate is the set of people who have some say in choosing the leader. The real selectorate is the subset of people who actually choose the leader. The winning coalition is the subset of people whose support is essential for the leader to stay in power.
The size of these groups varies across different types of regimes. In a democracy, the nominal selectorate is the entire adult population, the real selectorate is the registered voters, and the winning coalition is the majority of voters. In a dictatorship, the nominal selectorate is the military, the bureaucracy, the clergy, or any other group that has some influence, the real selectorate is the inner circle of loyalists, and the winning coalition is a small clique of cronies.
The authors argue that the size of the winning coalition relative to the real selectorate determines the behavior of leaders. The smaller the winning coalition, the more autocratic and oppressive the leader. The larger the winning coalition, the more democratic and accountable the leader. The reason is simple: Leaders need to reward their backers to keep them loyal, and they need to minimize the number of people they need to reward to maximize their own income. The smaller the winning coalition, the easier it is to bribe them with private goods, such as money, jobs, favors, or protection. The larger the winning coalition, the harder it is to bribe them with private goods, so leaders have to provide public goods, such as infrastructure, education, health care, or security.
Coming to Power
How do leaders come to power in the first place? The authors explain that leaders need to appeal to a certain group of people who can help them gain power. This group may be different from the group that can help them stay in power. For example, a leader may need to mobilize a large number of people to overthrow an existing regime, but then rely on a small number of people to consolidate his or her rule.
The authors distinguish between two types of leaders: challengers and incumbents. Challengers are those who want to replace the current leader. Incumbents are those who want to keep their position. Challengers and incumbents face different problems and strategies when it comes to coming to power.
Challengers need to convince potential supporters that they can deliver better rewards than the incumbent. They also need to overcome the collective action problem, which is the difficulty of getting people to cooperate for a common goal when they have individual incentives to free-ride or defect. Challengers can use various tactics to overcome this problem, such as offering selective incentives, creating focal points, exploiting grievances, or using violence.
Incumbents need to prevent challengers from gaining support and legitimacy. They also need to deter potential defectors from their own coalition. Incumbents can use various tactics to achieve this goal, such as co-opting rivals, dividing opponents, censoring information, or repressing dissent.
Staying in Power
How do leaders stay in power once they have it? The authors explain that leaders need to balance two competing demands: rewarding their backers and suppressing their rivals. They also need to anticipate and adapt to changing circumstances that may affect their political survival.
The authors identify four types of threats that leaders face: purges, coups, revolutions, and foreign interventions. Purges are attempts by leaders to eliminate potential rivals within their own coalition. Coups are attempts by insiders to overthrow the leader and take his or her place. Revolutions are attempts by outsiders to overthrow the leader and change the regime. Foreign interventions are attempts by external actors to influence or replace the leader.
The authors analyze how leaders deal with these threats depending on their type of regime. They show that autocrats are more prone to purges and coups than democrats, because they have fewer backers and more enemies. Democrats are more prone to revolutions and foreign interventions than autocrats, because they have more challengers and less control. The authors also discuss how leaders can mitigate these threats by using various strategies, such as loyalty tests, patronage networks, propaganda campaigns, or alliances.
Stealing from the Poor, Giving to the Rich
How do leaders reward their backers and suppress their rivals? The authors explain that leaders use corruption and patronage as tools to distribute resources among different groups of people. They also show how these practices affect economic development and social welfare.
The authors define corruption as the misuse of public office for private gain. They define patronage as the distribution of favors or benefits in exchange for political support. They argue that corruption and patronage are rational strategies for leaders who want to stay in power, especially in small-coalition regimes where leaders can easily extract resources from a large population and distribute them among a few supporters.
Getting and Spending
How do leaders allocate resources and public goods depending on their political survival? The authors explain that leaders face a trade-off between spending money on themselves and their backers, or spending money on the general public. They also show how this trade-off affects the quality and quantity of public goods and services.
The authors define public goods as goods that are non-excludable and non-rivalrous, meaning that everyone can benefit from them and no one can be prevented from using them. Examples of public goods are national defense, law and order, public health, education, and infrastructure. The authors argue that public goods are essential for economic development and social welfare, but they are also costly and difficult to provide.
The authors demonstrate how leaders decide how much and what kind of public goods to provide depending on their type of regime. They show that autocrats tend to provide fewer and lower-quality public goods than democrats, because they have less incentive and more constraints to do so. Autocrats have less incentive to provide public goods because they can stay in power by bribing their small coalition with private goods. Autocrats have more constraints to provide public goods because they face more resistance and competition from their rivals and enemies. Democrats tend to provide more and higher-quality public goods than autocrats, because they have more incentive and less constraints to do so. Democrats have more incentive to provide public goods because they need to please their large coalition with public goods. Democrats have less constraints to provide public goods because they face less resistance and competition from their rivals and allies.
If Corruption Empowers, Then Absolute Corruption Empowers Absolutely
How do leaders exploit natural resources, foreign aid, and debt to increase their power and wealth? The authors explain that leaders use these sources of income as means to finance their corruption and patronage schemes. They also show how these sources of income affect economic development and social welfare.
The authors analyze how natural resources, foreign aid, and debt work in different contexts and regions, such as Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Europe. They show how these sources of income create windfalls and rents that leaders can capture and distribute among their supporters. They also show how these sources of income create dependencies and vulnerabilities that leaders can exploit or suffer from.
The authors illustrate how natural resources, foreign aid, and debt create the resource curse, the aid curse, and the debt curse. These curses are phenomena that occur when countries with abundant natural resources, generous foreign aid, or large external debt experience poor economic performance, bad governance, civil conflict, or external interference. The authors explain how these curses are caused by political factors rather than economic factors. They argue that these curses can be avoided or reversed by changing the incentives and constraints of leaders.
How do leaders use foreign aid to buy loyalty, influence, and weapons? The authors explain that foreign aid is a tool that donors use to pursue their own interests in recipient countries. They also show how foreign aid affects political survival and economic development.
The authors define foreign aid as the transfer of money or goods from one country or organization to another country or organization for a specific purpose. They distinguish between two types of foreign aid: humanitarian aid and strategic aid. Humanitarian aid is aid that is given for altruistic reasons, such as relieving poverty, hunger, disease, or disaster. Strategic aid is aid that is given for selfish reasons, such as advancing political, economic, or military interests.
The authors examine how donors decide whom to give aid to and how much aid to give. They show that donors are more likely to give aid to countries that share their values, interests, or goals. They also show that donors are more likely to give aid to countries that have small coalitions or large populations. The reason is that donors want to influence the behavior of leaders by rewarding or punishing them for their actions. The smaller the coalition or the larger the population of a country, the easier it is for donors to sway the leader with a small amount of aid.
The People in Revolt
How do leaders face the threat of popular uprising and how do they respond to it? The authors explain that leaders face a trade-off between repression and concession when dealing with mass protests. They also show how this trade-off affects political stability and social change.
The authors define popular uprising as a collective action by a large number of people who demand political change or reform. They distinguish between two types of popular uprising: revolutions and rebellions. Revolutions are popular uprisings that aim to overthrow the leader and change the regime. Rebellions are popular uprisings that aim to challenge the leader and obtain some concessions.
The authors analyze how leaders decide whether to repress or concede to popular uprisings depending on their type of regime. They show that autocrats tend to repress more than democrats, because they have more to lose and less to gain from conceding. Autocrats have more to lose from conceding because they risk losing their power and wealth. Autocrats have less to gain from conceding because they have fewer supporters and more enemies. Democrats tend to concede more than autocrats, because they have less to lose and more to gain from conceding. Democrats have less to lose from conceding because they can keep their power and wealth. Democrats have more to gain from conceding because they have more supporters and fewer enemies.
The authors also analyze how popular uprisings succeed or fail depending on their type of regime. They show that revolutions are more likely to succeed in autocracies than in democracies, because autocracies have weaker institutions and more grievances. Rebellions are more likely to succeed in democracies than in autocracies, because democracies have stronger institutions and more responsiveness.
War, Peace, and World Order
How do leaders use war and peace as tools to advance their interests and secure their position? The authors explain that leaders face a trade-off between aggression and cooperation when dealing with other countries. They also show how this trade-off affects international relations and global security.
The authors define war as a violent conflict between two or more countries that involves military forces and casualties. They define peace as a state of non-violence between two or more countries that involves diplomatic relations and cooperation. They argue that war and peace are rational strategies for leaders who want to stay in power, especially in small-coalition regimes where leaders can use war as a diversion or peace as a bribe.
The authors illustrate how war and peace work in different contexts and regions, such as Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and America. They show how leaders use war and peace to achieve various goals, such as expanding territory, gaining resources, securing allies, deterring enemies, or diverting attention. They also show how leaders use war and peace to manipulate their domestic and international audiences, such as rallying support, blaming scapegoats, creating enemies, or making deals.
The authors evaluate the consequences of war and peace for political survival and economic development. They show that war and peace have both benefits and costs for leaders and their countries. War can increase the popularity and power of leaders, but it can also decrease the wealth and welfare of their countries. Peace can increase the wealth and welfare of countries, but it can also decrease the popularity and power of leaders.
What Is To Be Done?
How can leaders be influenced or replaced by internal or external forces? The authors explain that leaders can be changed by two types of mechanisms: institutional change or leadership change. They also show how these mechanisms affect political survival and economic development.
The authors define institutional change as a change in the rules or norms that govern the selection and behavior of leaders. They define leadership change as a change in the identity or personality of the leader. They argue that institutional change is more effective and lasting than leadership change for improving human governance, especially in small-coalition regimes where leaders are more resistant and resilient to leadership change.
The authors discuss how institutional change can be achieved by two types of actors: insiders or outsiders. Insiders are those who belong to the same country or organization as the leader. Outsiders are those who belong to a different country or organization than the leader. Insiders can achieve institutional change by reforming or revolutionizing the system from within. Outsiders can achieve institutional change by supporting or intervening in the system from without.
The authors assess the challenges and opportunities of institutional change for political survival and economic development. They show that institutional change is not easy or quick, but it is possible and desirable for leaders and their countries. Institutional change can increase the incentive and ability of leaders to provide public goods and services, reduce corruption and violence, and promote democracy and human rights.
In conclusion, The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics is a book that offers a new and provocative perspective on how politics works. The book challenges the conventional wisdom that leaders care about the national interest or the welfare of their subjects. The book argues that leaders care only about staying in power, and they do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. The book shows that the difference between democrats and dictators is not a matter of morality or ideology, but a matter of numbers. The size of the group that a leader needs to please to stay in power determines almost everything about politics: what leaders can get away with, and the quality of life or misery under them.
The book provides a comprehensive and accessible analysis of various aspects and examples of politics, such as coming to power, staying in power, corruption, patronage, public goods, natural resources, foreign aid, debt, popular uprising, war, peace, and institutional change. The book uses a simple model and a clear language to explain complex phenomena and concepts. The book also provides a link to download the epub version of the book for free, so you can read it on your preferred device.
The book is not only informative and insightful, but also entertaining and engaging. The book is full of anecdotes and stories that illustrate the main points and insights of the book. The book is also full of humor and sarcasm that make the reading experience more enjoyable and memorable. The book is not only a book for students of politics, but also a book for curious citizens and potential leaders. The book will make you think differently about how the world works and how it can be changed.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the book and their answers:
Q: Is the book based on empirical evidence or theoretical speculation?
A: The book is based on both empirical evidence and theoretical speculation. The book uses data from various sources, such as the World Bank, the United Nations, the CIA, and other academic studies, to supp