The first rule of autocrat club: Don’t talk about beautiful chocolate cake

  1. The first rule of autocrat club: Don’t talk about beautiful chocolate cake
  2. Rules for the Resistance: A handy guide for overthrowing an autocrat

By: Richard W. Sharp III

From Caesar to Kim1 the long arc of history has traced a glorious blazing trail for you, the aspiring autocrat. There are many great role models out there, but there are empires to rule and rebellions to crush. Who’s got time for a lot of boring reading, or even to watch videos that aren’t about you? Fortunately, you’ve got lackeys and they can put together executive summaries that let you know what to think.

SNL Spicer
Lackeys are the best! Image credit: Saturday Night Live on GIPHY

World domination is hard, so we’ve put together a handy list of the dos and don’ts of despotism. If you don’t want to be unpresidented, then you better follow precedent, otherwise there will be consequences.


The XV Dictates of Despotism

  1. Ø. Don’t piss off the military.2
  1. Don’t piss off the judiciary (civil or ecclesiastic).
  2. Don’t piss off the spies.
  3. Don’t piss off the press.
  4. Don’t play war with a warmonger.
  5. Don’t throw your team under the bus.
  6. Do keep your enemies close, your friends closer, and your successor closest. 
  7. Do control the political narrative.
  8. Do speak for the people.
  9. Do build up The Man, The Myth, The Legend.
  10. Do Assume an Impressive Title.
    • Precedent: Kahn, Caesar, The Great, The Terrible, Führer, Caudillo, Duce.
    • Consequence: If you ain’t The Something, you’re nothing.


Now, I know what you’re thinking. Today’s market is crowded with some real heavyhitters, so how do I break through? Well it’s all about being honest with yourself. That’s why we thought we would talk it over with you because, well, maybe it will help you to know just what we found out about honesty. And we found out plenty. To be honest may sound easy, some of the time it is, but it can be a real problem. Especially when being honest, conflicts with other things you want to do.4 Just remember…

Know Thyself
How honest are you?

1 All of them.^
2 Null, I know, null. After all, the Romans knew something about running water, but what about zero?
3 Don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming.
4 Most of this paragraph is cribbed from the opening dialog in the 1950 sleeper hit of an instructional video: How Honest are You?  While it fails to capture the intent of the original material, it does reveal the power of the film’s message. 

About The Author

Richard is a Seattle area data scientist who builds predictive models and the services that deliver them. He earned a PhD in Applied and Computational Math from Princeton University, and left academia for the dark side of science (industry) in 2010, following his wife to the land of flannel. Fan of coffee, beer, backpacking and puns. Enjoys a day on the lake fishing, and, better, cooking up the catch for a crowd.