How to Rule: A Statist’s Guide

A guest post from Austen Erickson:

Congratulations on obtaining your new country! Whether you were elected by a majority of citizens who could be bothered to vote, appointed by the previous (and outgoing) party elite, or you have just staged a military coup, be assured that you have not only the power to rule – but the right to do so! The people – your people – have implicitly agreed to a social contract listing you as the ultimate authority, so be confident in your reign!

However, ruling a country is a difficult task; radical, anti-social, elements will always exist at the edge of society seeking to criticise or even undermine your administration. Its important not to pay any attention to what they have to say, since self-doubt is the most poisonous affliction for any sovereign. After all, if they know so much, why are you the one sitting in the driver’s seat while they clamour for attention at the back of the bus?
This guide will teach you how best to quash these dangerous dissidents, so that you can more easily realise your utopian vision for the nation – your nation. The techniques here are presented in an order that our experts think will be the simplest for a first time ruler, but feel free to improvise! Jump around a bit as circumstance demands, or just to watch those fringe elements squirm. Even someone as dedicated to advancing the greater good as you deserves to enjoy themselves every now and then.
Remember, the most important thing while you build the great society – your society – is to have fun!
Step 1 – Disarm the Dissidents
An armed population is an unruly population! Just like a de-clawed animal makes the best pet, defenceless people are the easiest to domesticate. Obviously, you’ll have to take away their guns – but don’t be afraid to go further! Knives, axes, scissors and knitting needles – all can be used against you or your agents.
Start by outlawing dangerous weapons in public places, and when this proves an ineffective deterrent to criminals you can push for more regulation and registration. Ideally you will end up with a list of every legal gun-owner. Don’t worry about the illegal owners, they will always be around and are such a small minority that they don’t pose a threat to your regime.
Timing is everything when you are finally ready to start taking weapons away – statistical evidence and rational argument will not be on your side, so wait for a tragedy before you make your move! Declining crime rates are no match for a pile of bodies – so stand atop it with pride while you paint your opponents as heartless.
PROTIP: While you gradually reduce the power of people to defend themselves, take the opportunity to more heavily arm your own forces in the name of “public safety.” Every local police force should have assault weapons, and at least one tank, if possible! (Armed drones are also a great idea – see Step 5)
Step 2 – Seize the Schools
Children are the future – your future. A young mind is fertile soil for growing the followers of tomorrow, and as any good farmer will tell you – if you want a good crop come harvest, nationalise education!
Its no secret that all children have the same needs and capabilities, and that’s why a national curriculum is so important to your success! Of course, funding schools can be difficult with all the other great projects you will be working on – so don’t be afraid to cut programs that won’t serve your goals. Art, economics, mathematics and science are all fat to be discarded if necessary; but never, ever get rid of history. The social studies classroom is your arena! Its a sad, outdated notion that history is an objective study of the past. Those of us in the know are aware that its actually a perfect medium for selling ideology to impressionable youth.
PROTIP: Remember to tack these three magical words onto every educational edict you issue “…for our children.” No one can argue with that – it would mean that they were anti-children. Its just logic.
Step 3 – Bolster the Bureaucracy
Depending on your predecessors – your rightfully unlimited power may be unfairly constrained by silly things like constitutional law or other branches of government. But modern science has given us a fantastic tool to overcome such hurdles – the bureaucrat!
A simple rule of thumb: if you can’t legislate it, regulate it! Is an impasse among underlings getting you down? Create an entirely new agency to bypass the whole process! Between the Department of This and the Agency of That (not to mention the Board of the Other), there will be dozens, if not hundreds of different subordinates who you can instruct to pass any given order.
PROTIP: People love wars and they provide a great opportunity to expand the scope of state power! But sometimes a war on a neighbouring country is impractical – which is why its such a good idea to declare war on more nebulous, abstract foes: “War on Poverty,” “War on Drugs,” “War on Terror,” “War on Obesity,” “War on Badwrongness” – be creative!
Step 4 – Neuter the Newspapers
[CENSORED] (Ed. Note: Good job! You are catching on!)
PROTIP: A great way to get started on this is to establish an ‘independent’ agency to monitor the press – it can all be done in the name of “creating and maintaining a balanced and free media.” We couldn’t have any private parties injecting their agenda into the news.
Step 5 – Surveil the Citizenry
Its no coincidence that The Police sang “Every Breath You Take,” because they’ll most certainly be watching you (or rather, your subjects)! By now you might have upset some of the coarser plebeians, and the first step to removing a cancer on society is detecting it.
Thanks to the marvels of technology, its easier than ever to keep track of the average Jane or Joe Citizen. Who will complain about wanting “a chicken in every pot” when you give them “a camera on every street corner?” No one – at least not for long!
Don’t forget to keep up with all the new-fangled gadgetry either – phone-tapping, internet data retention, microwave scanning, mandatory blood and saliva testing; the possibilities are just endless. The best part is, it can all be done in the name of “national security!”
PROTIP: Before you take the reigns, be as vocal as possible in your opposition to a surveillance state – then your supporters will take for granted that anything you do must be necessary, since you oppose it so strongly on principle!
Step 6 – Jilt the Judiciary
To paraphrase the great thinker and statesman, Benjamin Franklin “People… deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Truer words have never been spoken! You’ve accomplished a lot so far, and its OK to congratulate yourself for a job well done. In fact, why not declare a national day of celebration in your honour? We’ll still be here when you come back, champ!
We bet that was fun! The hard work is almost done – if you haven’t already all you need to do is to start enforcing your laws as arbitrarily as you create them. The notion that everyone has to follow the same rules is a ludicrous relic and has no place in an advanced society.
Besides, if you’ve completed Step 3 odds are everybody is guilty of something. You may as well pass sentence now and define a charge later. In fact, you can probably just drop the pretence of charging people with crimes altogether. You are the state and if you say someone’s guilty, that’s the way it is!
PROTIP: Setting and expanding precedent is key here! If you can get away with something once, you’ve proven that its always acceptable. Use a missile strike on foreigners yesterday to justify an assassination of one of your own citizens tomorrow. Dream big!
Step 7 – Profit!
Congratulations on completing the guide! You should now be in a great position to enforce your policy whims, whatever they might be! Soon your world-view will come to its full fruition. You may be interested in our companion work – How to Cope with Societal Collapse: A Statist’s Guide. Until then – all hail the glorious leader!
Originally published on Austen’s personal blog under a creative common license 

3 thoughts on “How to Rule: A Statist’s Guide

  1. It isn’t clear whether you mean the heavy irony in all this as a warning to everybody else of what would be rulers might do, in which case it is no warning at all against the cleverer sort who really do know what they are doing, or if it is meant as a very poor guide for the would be rulers, a wreckers’ lamp to lure them to their doom. But that last is only reasonable if you feel that the collateral damage they would do in following the bad advice would lead to a later improvement great enough to compensate for it, on the theory of some revolutionaries that they should oppose real reforms in favour of aggravating things so as to bring about a deeper and more thorough revolution.

    It’s too late and I’m too tired to give a proper warning of what clever usurpers might do, though if practical I shall attempt that later, so for now I shall merely draw readers’ attention to a few relevant materials:-

    - Machiavelli’s The Prince;

    - Alfred Duggan’s historical novels (particularly if you analyse them in the light of Ganshof’s Feudalism), and maybe Mary Renault’s historical novels too;

    - Noel Perrin’s Giving up the Gun: Japan’s Reversion to the Sword, 1543–1879; and finally,

    - Almost any thorough account of conscious colonialist methods like “peaceful penetration” (as these were used more by the French and Dutch than by the British, who were actually amateurish and undeliberate much of the time, the best sources are biographies of people like Bugeaud and Gallieni).

  2. Thanks!
    I first need to take over my country of choice, but this will then make it easy to govern. I had intended to get rich by making a invention and patenting it- but now I’ll actually own the printing presses! I can’t wait!

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