Seeker Archives

7 Signs That You're a Despot

Why can't you see what everybody else does? Possibly because you led a crackdown of the opposition.

The warnings are evident: The protests, the condemnation from the world community -- a potential court date at the Hague. But if these indicators haven't convinced you yet that you're a despot, perhaps some of these telltale signs will do the trick.

Above, world dictators (including Syrian President Bashir al-Assad) adorn old sections of the old Berlin Wall opposite the former Checkpoint Charlie.

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Most telling are the little things that show a subtle appreciation for eccentric western culture. Elvis glasses? Check. Your son wants to invite Dennis Rodman over for a play date? Check. Yep -- you're probably a despot.

Also, if everyone around you is dressed in formal military attire -- but you're wearing a leisure suit or a parka -- you might want to make sure you're not a low-level functionary standing next to a despot.

North Korea's History of Saber-Rattling

"Let's see ... this one is for archery and I got that one when I made Eagle Scout ... and well, there are so many I can't remember how I got ALL of them."

Former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, one of Africa's bloodiest dictators, models the heavy brass look that was also popular with the likes of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein.

Pros: There are a ton of statues of you all around town, riding a horse, raising a cutlass, and just generally dominating the competition.

Cons: They've been torn down and a) dragged through the streets or b) stepped on. Either way, you're probably not just a despot, but a deposed despot.

Absolute power leads to absolutely awful fashion choices. Former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos beat a hasty retreat when she and hubby Ferdinand fled the presidential palace in 1986 -- but not with all her shoes. She left behind about 1,200 pairs following a popular revolt.

Nearly 800 pairs of her collection are now on display at the Marikina Footwear Museum (that's right -- Footwear Museum) east of Manilla.

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You're visiting some friends downtown and everybody wants to check out the wax museum. Then you come around the corner and -- yep -- that's you all right, and right next to Hitler.

Not much else to say about that, except: You're a despot.

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Does this look like your to-do list?

Fill the country with statues of yourself Change the calendar to suit you, and name April after your mother Rename a town, airports, schools and a meteorite after you and your family Ban lip syncing and the circus Also ban the opera and ballet If the answer is yes, then you are the late President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, who led that state in 21 years of totalitarianism and isolation.

If the family business involves blending secular reforms with decades of uncontested rule, suppressing dissent, and asserting control of the military and secret police, it may be time to ask whether you are, in fact, a despot.

And sooner, rather than later, preferably.

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