THE DICTATOR’S HANDBOOK | Bad Behavior = Great Politics

I made this video awhile back when I had a lot fewer subscribers. I’m re-uploading it now to see is if gets more attention. My guess is it will get about 500 views but at least you’ll get to hear my beautiful voice.

The Dictator’s Handbook

The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics is a 2011 non-fiction book by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, published by the company PublicAffairs. It discusses how politicians gain and retain political power.

Bueno de Mesquita is a fellow at the Hoover Institution. His co-writer is also an academic, and both are political scientists.

Michael Moynihan of The Wall Street Journal stated that the writing style is similar to that of Freakonomics. Moynihan added that the conclusions the book makes originate from the fields of economics, history, and political science, leading him to call the authors “polymathic”.

Bueno de Mesquita and Smith argue that politicians, regardless of whether they are in authoritarian dictatorships or in democracies, must stay in power by pleasing a core inner circle of power brokers, and that politicians must engage in self-interested behavior in order to stay in power.[2] They argued that the motives of politicians are “To come to power, to stay in power and, to the extent that they can, to keep control over money.”[3] The main difference between the scenarios of democratic and authoritarian politicians is that the former have to please a large number of power brokers and/or the public at large while authoritarian ones please relatively small circles. These differences are illustrated in the infrastructure developed in authoritarian and democratic societies. In addition, authoritarian rulers, due to their smaller circles of power brokers, tend to have longer periods of power. The authors also stated that politicians usually do beneficial acts when it benefits them or when they must do so. The book also argues that aid to third-world countries benefits authoritarian governments.

Occasionally terminologies differ in sections of the book. Samuel Brittan of the Financial Times argued that this is sometimes confusing.

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Outro Song
[No Copyright Music] Imaginary – Broken Elegance

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Think Club says:

Thanks for the support, guys. Glad you like the video. I’m going to start doing more short commentary intros a couple times a week and see how the videos do.

Noetic Justice says:

In tandem with CGP Grey’s “Rules for Rulers” video, this is a great introduction to the inner workings of political leadership. Well done, and I hope you do more like this.

The Rightful King of Finland says:

Really impressed with the production value, Adam. Good job!

Indy Jones says:

This is what worries me about AMLO’s election in Mexico .. he wants to combine police and military. Any consolidation of power seems like a step toward destruction. — Also, from the book, PAY THE POLICE! Corrupt governments intentionally underpay the police forcing the police to become corrupt in order to personally survive. Thus the government head can increase local control by threatening individual police with selective prosecution.

Slygotha the Broodmother says:

Machiavelli was right!!

AnimeShitlord says:

Your thumbnails have been very helpful in baiting my friends to watch these videos to get these ideas out there, good job Adam.

CoellnBrueder says:

138 mio are 42% of 250 mio? Did you double check on that?

Jeff PHILLIPS says:

This video was muy Bueno de Mesquita!

joe ampolo says:

More than half don’t vote. Of those that do, nearly half of these feel trapped into voting for one or the other of two candidates. On election day, the least decisive among us finally cast the deciding vote. Does that about sum it up? Both candidates need their fair share of stupid, or to be polite, low information voters just to tip the scales. I’m not saying Trump’s margin came from a basket full of deplorables. That’s Hilary’s claim. She’s just mad because the Russians stole her fair share of the stupid vote. LOL But, I still prefer our humble attempt at a democratic republic to the alternatives.

Eric Hopper says:

CCP Grey has an excellent take on this:

Eric Rohner says:

Woo! I missed this video. It’s probably my favorite video on selectorate theory. Thanks for the reupload!

Ausyarr says:

I saw this video in a vision.

dtz1586 says:

More evidence supporting the viability of anarcho-capitalism. If theres no monopoly on the services provided by the government today then theres no small conglomerate to continue to pay for power over a market, or seeking money from a small amount of wealthy people just to support their power over whatever services they have a monopoly over.

Sun bro says:

My reading list is so long, I really appreciate you giving us the “cliff or friended notes” of these gems.

Doctor Claw says:

Pick one and only one

Erin Collins says:

I’m going to have to watch this multiple times. This is SO good.

Vulkan Of Nocturne says:

So… nothing about foiling the Jews?

Firstname Lastname says:

This book really ought to be required reading in school.

Fuck Shakespeare, this is infinitely more important.

Also, calling the US a “first world democracy” is a little….. questionable.

That book brings up the Russian example where police corruption is unpunished, because that’s an informal method of handing out private rewards to a group that is required to stay in power. Meanwhile in the US, Civil Asset Forfeiture is a legal means where a police officer can just take property from private citizens and keep it, without a warrant, after which the victim needs to go through a complex process to prove that the confiscated property was not going to be used in a crime to get it back.

You can also look at the huge differences between the voter support for certain policies vs what the politicians want. Recent polling indicates Medicare for all has a slim majority of support even among registered Republicans, yet that’s more support than the policy has among elected Democrats, the nominally left wing group. Or, look at the reelection rates vs approval rates. Despite the fact that Congress has an approval rating that hovers around 20%, re-election rates rarely drop below 80%. Or the fact that the last 2 Republican presidents have both been elected after losing the popular vote.

The US might nominally be a “democracy”, but in practice, it functions more like an oligarchy.

Leukos says:

Really impressed by the production quality, do more like this!

Theodore McCarthy says:

The problem I see with this analysis is that is presumes the broad democratic selectorate is largely flat. In reality, that selectorate is organized at the local, state, and national levels by political institutions which provide hierarchical structures. This hierarchy reduces the number of actors in the “winning coalition” to numbers comparable to those in dictatorships. While it is theoretically possible in a democracy to appeal directly to the masses, it is nearly impossible to overcome the institutional advantages the pre-existing party structures offer. The success of a populist campaign’s like Trump’s is only possible when the existing political hierarchy is suffering significant internal divisions and plagued by incompetence, as is now the case in the Republican party and the US generally.

Chris says:

Excellent work man.

Erin Collins says:

This is a lesson in Venezuela in recent years.

Ghost Nathan says:

20%! Ok that’s just a new oligarchy. Ok you want to expand this group. Maybe there is a reason why it’s 20%. If you expanded it to over 50 that group would just end up subdividing again, due to group conflicts.
Welcome to demos.

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