Found in 19 comments on Hacker News
For anyone reading this deep in the thread: read Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, The Dictator's Handbook. A variations of a few simple rules result in virtually all models of government. And none of them involve technical competence.

jhgorrell · 2022-03-06 · Original thread
For those who would like to read more about staying in power as a dictator, or for that matter any kind of political leader, I found "The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics" [1] a good read on the topic.

Of note is the required number of supporters can be quite low when you have a government supported by resource extraction.


ben_w · 2021-06-07 · Original thread
Books like this?:

“and” is pulling a lot of weight in your sentence, given I’ve not made a claim about general human rights on this thread.

Also? “Common cause” is very different from “has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding”, which I consider important in this context.

jiggawatts · 2020-03-06 · Original thread
For me, several books by Greg Egan fall into this category. Permutation City, Diaspora, Quarantine, and Schild's Ladder have all... changed me.

I was a different person before and after I had read those books, and now I categorise all works of fiction into those that forever alter my way of thinking and those that do not.

Which reminds me, I should finish:

The Culture series by Iain Banks, especially Inversions also satisfy this requirement, as does The City at the End of Time by Greg Bear: -- which is a difficult to consume masterpiece that nonetheless left me permanently horrified in the way that H. P. Lovecraft tried but failed.

For the non-fiction category the CGP Grey video "The Rules for Rulers":

and Part 2:

have totally changed the way I look at all political discourse, and this is coming from someone who has already absorbed The Prince. It's based on the Dictator's Handbook, which I should read also, but the CGP video was an effective summary already!

Last, but not least, if I'm allowed to include lecture videos, then the "Arithmetic, Population and Energy" lecture by Al Bartlett is absolutely amazing. You will never see the news in the same way again after watching it:

You should read "The Dictator's Handbook". Dictators may be driven to externally irrational behavior by what appear internally to be an entirely rational chain of decisions. And I mean rational in the Homo economus sense of the word.

It's also one of the subjects in The Dictator's Handbook, an excellent layman's read on political economics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith.

If you want the hardcore game theory version, check out The Logic of Political Survival by the same authors:

In light of the prior article about ICANN as an unaccountable private company (1), this is a good time to encourage everyone to read Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's The Dictator's Handbook (2). This is a classic setup for dictatorship by a small cabal (the board): a vast, unempowered populace, a clear source of money (increasing domain fees), and a fairly small elite that needs to be compromised, particularly relative to the size of the unempowered populace.

If governments and corporations haven't already started buying influence, I'd be shocked.



"The Dictator's Handbook" by DeMesquita and Smith is a popular take on their academic work that describes a metamodel for reasoning about power and politics that bypasses how things "may" or "should" work and talks about how they "must" work.

And a general +1 for GEB. If you read that as a teenager, you are different for it.

lostcode · 2018-10-21 · Original thread
> That's so wester/occidental... Who says that democracy is such a good news ?

"The Dictator's Handbook" [1] does a good job of explaining various political systems lays down and presents an argument for why people in democracies have more freedoms and are generally more prosperous.


tzmudzin · 2018-09-17 · Original thread
The Dictator's Handbook, by de Mesquita & Smith:

marklgr · 2018-06-18 · Original thread
No need to call others' opinions ignorant when you have another one. Here's a good book dealing with foreign aids, among other things:

Read The Dictator's Handbook. Then come back and tell me if I'm rambling.

> people think CGP Grey is a scholar on so many topics just because he sounds calm and confident

His "Rules for Rulers" video is an excellent summary of The Dictator's Handbook [1], itself a summary of well-regarded selectorate theory [2]. I have yet to watch a CPG Grey video which does not honestly separate fact from opinion, and ensure the former is well sourced.

His delivery is excellent. But that, alone, is not substitute for well-written and -researched material.



jaskerr · 2017-05-27 · Original thread
Which "Dictator's Handbook"? There are two on Amazon.

[1] The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics

[2] The Dictator's Handbook: A Practical Manual for the Aspiring Tyrant

scrollaway · 2017-02-04 · Original thread
The Dictator's Handbook:

Fascinatingly relevant right now.

> They see through it. They just know they have no other option.

To add to this, administrators know if they don't hire extensively they are likely to be replaced by someone who will. There is no control mechanism. Giving students a small periodic vote in respect of their top administration would go a long way towards ameliorating such corruption.

The "Dictator's Handbook" covers such topics

vinceguidry · 2016-11-08 · Original thread
By allowing their bureaucrats free rein to terrorize local businesses and extract mob-style protection payments, among other things. Excessive regulation. Basic, garden-variety corruption. Same stuff that goes on in every other autocratic country the world over.

Right now, Hong Kong is way too valuable as an economic engine, but the political dangers are more pressing to the CCCP. So the government will clamp down on freedoms as best they can until the citizens can't take it anymore, then keep beating the horse until it's dead.

You should read the book The Dictator's Handbook if you want to understand it better.

bayonetz · 2016-05-18 · Original thread
Great book on similar topic: "The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics"

Provides compelling case that all politicians tend toward dictatorship with the difference in how fully these tendencies are realized just being in the size of the coalition they have to appease, reward, or bully. With stereotypical absolute dictators this easy to see. On the other end of the spectrum, it is more shrouded. American democracy is theoretically based on a maximum sized coalition equaling roughly the entire population. In practice, the leaders are beholden to and have to influence a much smaller coalition to wield power. Something like the current Sanders/Clinton popular vote vs inner circle super delegate issue demonstrates this pretty well. Fascinating read.

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