Hey, when did Bob Dylan take over Libya?!
Dear Despots, Dictators, Autocrats, and other overlord-style rulers of the world,
It appears that we live in interesting times. In case you’ve been living under a rock (or an underground bunker or heavily-armored government compound) and haven’t heard the news recently, there’s a lot of social unrest going on in certain parts of the world. Some of your friends have even been toppled from power, or are very close to being so. Although you may think it impossible, you could be next!
Interestingly, all of your brethren so far, having had to face a comeuppance from the citizens that they formerly regarded as trash and cannon fodder, all seemed to follow a very specific and identical game plan for clinging desperately to power.
So far this action plan has failed miserably in pretty much all cases, but that’s beside the point! Clearly, you despots have some sort of Dictator’s Bible or something that you follow religiously.
What’s that, you say? In your desperation to batten down the hatches and prepare for the revolution, you left your copy in your other safe house? Well fear not! For your pals at scaredpoet.com are going to document the steps to (un-)successful counterinsurgency, so that you too can doggedly follow a uniform procedure that will hasten your hopefully-swift demise!
Step 1: Pull the plug on communications networks
Let’s face it. Your enemies looooove to express their thoughts. Whenever they find some dirt to dish, they’ll be sure to blog, or tweet, or facebook their anger, clearly thumbing their nose at your byzantine speech-stifling policies. Who knew that a silly website created by a smarmy American with Asperger’s syndrome would be the catalyst to foment your political downfall by your own subjects?
While it was clearly a mistake to dismiss social media as a passing fad instead of squelching it from the start, you can still do something about it. Being the awesome autocrat you are, it should be fairly easy for you to just pull the plug on your backward country’s already-slow internet connection. While you’re at it, take an axe to the telephone networks too, especially cell phones.
Nothing pisses off an angry mob more than taking away their favorite chit-chat sites. You know the ones that, although used to organize your overthrow now, probably also served to keep the revolution in check for a while by giving the public an outlet to vent their frustrations. Now, without quick access to their prized twitter hashtags, you’ll quickly turn a relatively organized group of peaceful activists with formal demands into an angry, rebellious mob of malcontents who won’t stop until you’re dead or gone.
Step 2: Blame it on the Foreigners
So, after removing your peoples’ connection to the rest of the world, you find that they still manage to muster up the initiative to hold pesky rallies, and protests, and just plain being nasty ne’er-do-wells in the middle of your monumental squares and such. Damn!
Not to worry. Your next step is to begin using traditional media – which you obviously control – to rouse up your supporters. Yeah, all five of them. The message that’s currently in vogue is that this whole revolution business is the crazy idea of a bunch of foreigners influencing the young and naive. Surely, after you’ve cut off their access, those foreign people have a found a way to instill hateful, murderous thoughts of silly, lofty things like, you know, freedom and democracy and peace, and all that fluffy stuff. Disgusting, right?!
I mean, you can even say the protestors out there don’t even look like they’re from your country, at all…
Such childish whimsy must be stopped, and the fictitious foreign agents who are feeding your people this trash eliminated. Making rambling speeches about this is the way to go! This will also make sure that any actual foreigners who were dumb enough to be on your police-state country do end up fleeing, taking with them any economic investment possibilities.
If the foreigner angle doesn’t quite work out, you can also mix in allegations that the rabble-rousers are just a bunch of youths. You can even accuse them of being on hallucinogenic drugs.
The whole foreign angle is particularly important, to defray any attention that people might bring to your next step…
Step 3: Hire a bunch of foreign mercenaries.
So, everyone in your cabinet has decided you’re crazy. You can’t trust your military to back you up because they’ve been drummed with that hogwash about “protecting the citizens,” and the special police forces and battalions that you thought were loyal to you balk when you order them to shoot at and bomb unarmed civilians. Cowards!
What’s worse, even your ambassdors in other countries won’t represent you. So, now what do you do? Simple! Do what American business have been doing for almost two decades now: outsource! Just farm out the nasty deeds to cheap, desperate, ruthless foreign mercenaries. Problem solved!
Think about it: there’s plenty of washed-up soldiers from lawless African countries who have seen enough death and destruction in their lifetimes that mowing down a few hundred more innocent civilians isn’t going to be any sweat off their back. All they’ll care about is getting their paycheck and a steady supply of weapons and ammo. It’s a win-win!
Step 4: Deny, Deny, Deny!
“There is no revolution here! None!”
So, after blindly following the above steps, it’s come down to this. Your hold on power is tenuous at best. The international community has seen what you’ve done to your people and have condemned you. It’s only a matter of time before the end of your regime will come… or has it already?
When all else fails, you can keep everyone confused and guessing by merely denying reality. Make up your own rendition of the facts. Deny that anything is wrong. Insist that your grip on power is solid. And keep telling yourself these things, even if you must repeat them over and over… you need to convince yourself that it’s true, at least as much as you need to try and convince everyone else.
It might also help if you have a pattern of eccentricity established beforehand… like insisting your autocratic regime is a perfect democracy already.
And there you have it. By stiffly following a few simple steps, you too can see your power base crumble before your eyes at the speed of a tweet. Remember: giving in to your citizens demands is for weaklings! Only the truly stupid and heartless have the most spectular, cable-news-ratings-garnering falls from power. Make it a good show!
...and, to all of those people out there who are fighting for freedom, democracy, and quality of life: seriously, keep doing what you’re doing! Your life is what you make of it, and true democracies are never handed to the people… they fight for it. I applaud all activists of freedom, because we need to continue to fight for it, both abroad and closer to home.