HowTo:Seize power

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Screwing a whole nation takes a big barrel.

“Government by the people, for the people” is a pleasant fantasy but it isn't easy to manage the wide range of citizens. Ask three Texans the best way to make Kasha and you’ll get three different answers (“¿Que?”, “¿Estás loco?” and “No hablo Ingles.”); or just ask three girls for their favourite member of One Direction and you’ll get three different pronunciations of “Harry Styles” - followed by the mother of all bitch-fights. Do you want your whole nation squabbling all the time? Of course you don’t. You’re benevolent and wise. You're better than them. You need to save these ass-hats from themselves. You should take over.

But how? If you're very lucky you may inherit a freedom-loving meritocracy from your father and grandfather. Not everyone is lucky enough to be Kim Jong-Un.

So how can a free person like you enslave a nation of millions? For starters you could join a political party, stand for election, and work your way up the grease pole with inspiring public oratory and by discretely providing underage hookers to senior government ministers with the ability to accelerate your career. You could... but who has time for that? You can’t help your beloved people if you’re spending all your time worrying about what they want. After all, they're the problem. You need to decide what you want them to desire, and then force them to agree it was what they wanted in the first place. With luck, bribes, immoral judgments, mutual greed, and hookers you might achieve some token Government of the people. But that's not good enough.

Image is everything:This says cool & in charge.

Gaining control of the levers of power

You need a power-base. This is the trickiest part. Taking over the Boy Scout Association would be easy but this is one national paramilitary organisation that’s only lightly armed. Catapults and BB guns didn't storm the Winter Palace. By all means sweep the Scouts up in the popular frenzy for your movement, you’ll need cannon-fodder later. But you know you’ll need troops in long pants if you're to achieve your destiny.

You need the Army. The Navy may be the senior service but you can’t expect the people to accept your government if they believe the great offices of state are run by rum-sodden matelots with no practical skills beyond singing sea-shanties and sodomy. As for the Air-force... sure Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlins managed to seize power in Ghana but that was Ghana for Christ’s sake. Your people aren't impressed with handle-bar moustaches and hair oil - the only sort of dog-fights they're interested in involve half-starved Rottweilers.

Gaining army support isn't easy. Ideally you should have born into the officer class. Hitler may have been a Corporal but his Thousand Year Reich (1933-45) lasted only 1.2% of its planned lifetime. Learn to speak nicely and you'll be able to enlist as a Lieutenant but don't do anything rash. Working your way to the minimum rank for starting a coup d'etat, Colonel, may take you 15 years. This gives you time to build a support-network through the force of your personality, graft and intimidation. And don’t forget the advantages of astutely planned assassination. Not only will this remove senior officers who might stand in your way, but it adds to your air of menace and opens the path to faster promotion. Dead men’s boots indeed.

Image is everything:Machine-guns say power, the Freddie Mercury moustache says sexually ambiguous.

After a lifetime's martial service you'll be itching to send the Marines into parliament. But not yet. You need to expand your power base beyond the military by improving the image of the armed forces with the general public. Break some unpopular strikes, evacuate victims of floods or tornadoes, pack grocery bags at Wall-Mart, man the border-posts and take pot-shots at hopeful Romanian immigrants. Most importantly, stoke up tension with a neighbouring nation unable to project any credible military threat in response; Bhutan, Guatemala, France etc.

Great, so now you’re popular. But if there’s no call for your ascent to power you can’t take a whole country by force. At least, not for long. Not before you get God on your side.

This is tricky because God is not as interested in under-age hookers as many of his spokesmen on Earth. However, unlike you He is a reluctant public speaker. Even if you offend Him He is unlikely to issue a press-statement condemning your ruthless repression of the opposition. You only need to appear to have God on your side and that’s where the priests come in. They’d lend their support to Satan if he maintained their industry's tax-exempt status, kept those hookers coming, and allowed them to “transfer to a parish in Australia if the parents of any choirboys kicked up a fuss.

Image is everything:Uniforms are reassuring but break-dancing is unhelpful.

Precipitate a Crisis

Armed with God’s blessing you now have both military might and the support of the credulous. But gaining power requires a moment of destiny. A moment when the nation’s peril makes it clear you are the only man to save it. A moment you’ll have to engineer carefully. If previous experience is anything to go by you could either:

a) Burn the parliament building and frame a foreign type with exotic religious beliefs. We would suggest raiding the local insane-asylum, picking the most luxuriantly-bearded Muslim and leaving his charred corpse just inside the smoldering capitol. The popularity of the subsequent pogrom will distract the public and you've just cleared five acres of prime real estate to begin the all important lining of your own pockets. Phone Starbucks now!


b) Stage an invasion. Have several dozen copies of the Bhutanese/Guatemalan/French military uniforms made. Round up your opponents within the army. Lightly tenderise with automatic weaponry. Garnish your side of the border with their corpses. And loudly broadcast Bhutanese/Guatemalan/French martial music on all frequencies.

Image is everything:Don't parody yourself, Sacha Baron Cohen got there first.

Rules for the successful despot

Either way, you now have the popular mandate you require to take over a nation crying out for strong governance. Just make sure you follow the following simple rules:


  • Write a new constitution limiting subsequent presidents to two terms of power.
  • Promise elections “when the time is right”.
  • Transfer public assets to Swiss bank accounts.
  • Block access to the internet and the subversive communist propaganda of the BBC/Voice of America.
  • Sign anti-terror and trade agreements with the United States government. This makes you a bulwark of freedom.
Image is everything:Don't allow yourself to be photographed laughing at suggestively-shaped vegetables.
  • Build an anti-terrorist barrier around your entire country to protect the population from foreign kidnappers intent on inflicting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness upon them.
  • Foster a cult of personality by re-writing history to make your regime inevitable. Don't forget to re-name the months of the year after your children,and only appear in public surrounded by all-female security guards. Choosing well upholstered blondes and insisting that they are only ever seen in khaki bikinis will distract the public from the reason you need them all to carry Kalashnikovs.


  • Forget that regular salary-increases for the armed forces will pay for themselves in the long run.
  • Travel abroad until the vice-president’s family are safely secured behind barbed wire.
  • Cut back on under-age hooker expenses (you’ll need to blackmail potential political enemies too publicly-beloved to risk assassinating).
  • Declare war on Russia and America while allying yourself with Finland and Italy.

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