The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

Excerpt

What remarkable puzzles politics provides. Every day’s headlines shock and surprise us. Daily we hear of frauds, chicanery, and doubledealing by corporate executives, new lies, thefts, cruelties and even murders perpetrated by government leaders. We cannot help but wonder what flaws of culture, religion, upbringing, or historical circumstance explain the rise of these malevolent despots, greedy Wall Street bankers, and unctuous oil barons. Is it true, as Shakespeare’s Cassius said, that the fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves? Or, more particularly, in those who lead us? Most of us are content to believe that. And yet the truth is far different.

Too often we accept the accounts of historians, journalists, pundits, and poets without probing beneath the surface to discover deeper truths that point neither to the stars nor to ourselves. The world of politics is dictated by rules. Short is the term of any ruler foolish enough to govern without submitting to these rules to rule by.

Journalists, authors, and academics have endeavored to explain politics through storytelling. They’ll explore why this or that leader seized power, or how the population of a far-flung country came to revolt against their government, or why a specific policy enacted last year has reversed the fortunes of millions of lives. And in the explanations of these cases, a journalist or historian can usually tell us what happened, and to whom, and maybe even why. But beneath the particulars of the many political stories and histories we read are a few . . .

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