– It provides invaluable lessons for today.

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I recently watched the new documentary, “How to Become a Tyrant,” on Netflix. It is a six episode series, each running 25-30 minutes in length. The intent is to examine past tyrannical dictators, note their personal attributes and tactics used, and make some conclusions as to becoming a tyrant, thereby providing a text book explanation for such madness.

In the film, they examine Germany’s Adolph Hitler, Russia’s Joseph Stalin, Uganda’s Idi Amin, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, North Korea’s Kim family, as well as other tyrants from around the world; e.g., Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-tung, and others.

Not only is it an excellent history lesson, but it provides insight as to what is happening today in this country.

Their “Tyrant’s Playbook” makes some rather astute observations with six key points:

1. How to seize power – here, the producers describe how tyrants ascend to power. Most come from obscurity, such as Adolf Hitler who was but a corporal in the German Army during World War I. Key to their rise was portraying themselves as one of the people. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were particularly good at this. Interestingly though, the tyrants had no respect for human life, which is why they were so effective in snuffing it out.

To become a tyrant, one must possess an inflated ego whereby you, alone, can solve your country’s problems. It thereby becomes important to develop a catchy message the public understands and can embrace. With Hitler, it was his book, “Mein Kampf.” In China, Mao’s “Little Red Book,” contained quotations from his speeches and writings. Likewise, Muammar Gaddafi had his “The Green Book.”

It also helps to rise to power during a difficult time, such as a financial calamity, like The Great Depression, war, poverty and disease. People are looking to be saved and will be receptive to anyone with a proposed solution, thus greasing the rails for rising to power.

Most of the tyrants also possessed a military background, thereby using soldiers to achieve domination. Such training also came in handy in terms of tactical warfare within their own country.

2. Crush your rivals – either through legal or illegal means, it doesn’t matter. Rivals would suddenly disappear or be falsely accused of traitorous activity.

3. Reign through terror – this requires the person to be totally ruthless. To implement this, public executions send a clear message to the populace that the tyrant is not to be trifled with. Joseph Stalin’s purges of the government and military was also effective, whereby hundreds of thousands of people were executed and another million sent to prisons and labor camps.

Key to the tyrant here is controlling the law, that the only interpretation that matters is the dictator’s.

4. Control the truth – this is very important to developing a culture of confusion. If you can control the source, content and distribution of information, you control the actions and decisions of the people.

Not only is it necessary for the state to control communications, such as publishing, TV, movies and the Internet, but the news as well. This is why the masses are prohibited from accessing the press in other countries.

Another key point in this area is altering history to suit your agenda. Most, if not all, of the tyrants in the film understood the necessity of this. And, Yes, propaganda was of strategic importance. To illustrate, North Korea’s Kim Jong-il (father of Kim Jong-un), came to power not through military means, but as Propaganda Minister.

5. Reinventing the country into the utopia you always wanted – this section was particularly interesting as we saw tyrants implement several tactics aimed at changing the culture of the land. For example:

* Supplant religion with something else, such as Stalinism.

* Replace the flag.

* Suppress civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion, and access to firearms.

* Crush protests, but let your supporters run amok.

* Reorient people (change their values).

* Indoctrinate the youth.

In this area, tyrants also tend to think big and implement massive and expensive construction projects, such as Hitler’s rebuilding of Berlin and the Autobahn, Stalin’s subways and dam projects, and Gaddafi’s massive irrigation system for the desert.

6. Seek immortality – to do so, you need a succession plan, something few tyrants actually prepare. The best example of this is in North Korea, with the Kims ruling for over 70 years (Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un).

One of the key points to maintaining power is requiring isolation. North Koreans are taught to take pride in being self-sufficient. By doing so, traveling outside of the country and communicating with the outside world is simply not necessary and, therefore, is prohibited.

Another trick is to export your revolution, such as Germany, Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, and Libya, who assisted other countries and political factions with weapons and funding.

Aside from North Korea, most tyrants do not hold on to power. Even Russia fell and was opened to the West, but outsiders still look at Russian President Vladimir Putin suspiciously. As an aside, to-date Putin has served for 22 years (Stalin was 25 years); if he has his way, Putin will be able to serve until 2036, marking 37 years as leader).

This documentary provides invaluable lessons. We see many elements from the list in America today, such as:

– Crush your rivals – either through legal or illegal means, it doesn’t matter. – Controlling the law, that the only interpretation that matters is the dictator’s. – Controlling the truth, particularly through the media. – Altering history. – Supplant religion with something else, such as Socialism. – Replace the flag. – Suppress civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion, and access to firearms. – Crush protests, but let your supporters run amok; e.g., Antifa and BLM. – Reorient people (change their values). Enforce Political Correctness.

– Indoctrination of youth.

The big question here is who is the tyrant in this country? The film suggests it is only one person, but today this could very well be an organized and determined political party who wants total control and create a new Utopia.

Yes, this film was very much an eye opener and worth a look. I highly recommend it for everybody, particularly youth.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – For a listing of my books, click HERE.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2021 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on Spotify, WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; SVA RADIO – “Senior Voice America”, the leading newspaper for active mature adults; or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

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