How to Be a Dictator by Frank Dikötter review – the cult of personality

 

Charisma, a lust for power, an absence of principles … what links Mao, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler and other 20th-century dictators?

The Guardian

Sheila Fitzpatrick

Sat 26 Oct 2019

Born in obscurity, frustrated in youth, the dictator rises through accident, patronage or anything except merit to blossom into a fully fledged evil-doer, desperate for the respect and admiration that are wrung from the populace only by skilled PR manipulation. Often feigning modesty, he soon generates a cult that he personally develops. Women and even brave men feel overcome in his presence; schoolchildren chant the praise of the father of the nation; artists and writers deify the great leader. Dictators generally come equipped with an ideology, but since they have no principles, only a lust for power, the process of propagation turns it into a mockery.

Although dictators often fancy themselves as writers or philosophers, they fail to make the grade as intellectuals, and the Little Red Books they produce are travesties. If they are dictators of the left, their attempts at radical reform bring famine and suffering to the population. If dictators of the right, they go to war, with the same consequence of popular suffering, and lead the nation to shameful defeat. They long to be popular, and put great effort into creating that illusion, but it is all fakery. Surrounded by sycophants, they are friendless, lonely and paranoid. Most of them die a dog’s death, but if they somehow manage to avoid this, people only pretend to mourn them. After their death, they are quickly forgotten.

This is the collective portrait that emerges from Frank Dikötter’s book, the eight chapters of which deal with MussoliniHitlerStalinMao ZedongKim Il-sung, Haiti’s “Papa Doc” Duvalier, Romania’s Nicolae Ceauşescu and Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam. Despite their fundamental similarities, his dictators do have stylistic differences. Stalin allowed streets and cities to be named after him, while Mao did not. Hitler was a teetotaller and Duvalier a follower of the occult. Kim’s floodlit statue towered over Pyongyang, following the tradition of Stalin statues, but Hitler vetoed the construction of statues of himself (thinking this honour should be reserved for great historical figures), and Ceauşescu and Duvalier felt the same. Some dictators’ enforcers wore brown shirts, others black, and still others had no uniform. Mussolini and Hitler excelled as orators, while Stalin was an undistinguished speaker who never addressed mass rallies. Stalin, Mao and Duvalier wrote poetry, Hitler painted and Mussolini played the violin.

In the chapters on the “big” dictators – Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin and Mao – Dikötter dwells on the cult that developed round them. All of them headed a party that borrowed some of their charisma, and their regimes featured a variety of secret police and enforcers as well as cheerleaders and informers. Ordinary people were encouraged to believe that anything bad was done by subordinates without the dictator’s knowledge (“If only the Duce/Fūhrer/vozhd’ knew”). In fact, the dictators repeatedly made terrible mistakes and appear to have had few if any lasting achievements. With Mao and Stalin, the “dog’s death” trope doesn’t quite fit, but Dikötter runs a modified form of it anyway. Dying, Stalin lay unattended, “soaked in his own urine”, and “one month after his funeral”, his “name vanished from the newspapers”.

Dikötter’s sources are impressive, including 16 archives from nine countries, one of them being the former Soviet Central Party Archive (now renamed RGASPI) in Moscow. Despite this, I did not find the Stalin chapter particularly compelling, no doubt partly because I do not share the author’s view that the cult is the most interesting thing about Stalin. When Dikötter writes that the dry-as-dust Short Course on the History of the All-Union Communist Party, in whose composition Stalin participated, “deified Stalin as the living fount of wisdom”, I wonder if he has actually read it.

For me, the most entertaining chapters of this book were about the dictators I was least familiar with. It is intriguing to read that the remains of Mengistu’s predecessor, Emperor Haile Selassie, were possibly “buried underneath his office, placing his desk right above the corpse”. The stand-out dictator, in terms of entertainment value, is Duvalier, with his personal militia the Tonton Macoutes, who “dressed like gangsters, with shiny blue-serge suits, dark, steel-rimmed glasses and grey homburg hats” for their enforcement duties. Duvalier modelled himself on Baron Samedi, the Vodou spirit of the dead and guardian of cemeteries, and sometimes dressed the part, all in black, with top hat and carrying a cane. Dikötter characterises him as a “dictator’s dictator”, by which I think he means the stripped-down model with “no true party” and without the “pretence of ideology”. Certainly Duvalier has a claim to be the reductio ad absurdum. Continue reading

Tom Lyons has written the most about cults for Irish newspapers, Dialogue Ireland wishes him well with his new assignment.

I have known Tom Lyons since the beginning of his career. I have found him a fearless writer in regard to my area of competence cultism.
Tom Lyons Chief Executive

Tom Lyons is the Chief Executive of The Currency. Named Business Journalist of the Year on three occasions, he won plaudits and respect for his unflinching coverage of Ireland’s boom, bust and recovery. He is an experienced broadcaster and the co-author of two books

Tom Lyons

A lot of journalism involves the threat of defamation and where a story is the law is soon behind.

He has worked with a number of newspapers which is a sign of the shrinking market for paper versions of news. How do you get people online when for some of us we need a break for a bit of paper once a week?
Wishing him well in this new venture.
Here is a selection of his articles which have included death threats. The currency is trying to get at the truth. When dealing with high pressure groups that exercise high levels of influence and control it is difficult to keep sane under the strain.

The currency is about addressing how the powerful try to stop you getting to the truth.
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In our work we often a threatened with legal attacks and in one case involving Tony Quinn we got a very pleasant surprise when Justice Hogan looked at this issue of our rights to assist the victims of cultism.

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/final-version-cornec-v-morrice-ors-judgment-by-hogan-j/

Mike Meegan~ Icross

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/why-the-mike-meegan-case-is-so-vital-for-the-study-of-cultism/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/why-the-mike-meegan-case-is-so-vital-for-the-study-of-cultism/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2016/07/02/con-sole-another-cult-of-greed/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/sunday-times-reports-on-mike-meegan-minus-icross-0607/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/sun-goes-down-on-icross-colin-coyle-and-tom-lyons-the-sunday-times-march-7-2010/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/charity-chief-‘pretended-to-be-a-priest’-by-tom-lyons-and-colin-coyle/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/priest-was-source-of-rtes-false-allegation-kenyan-woman-at-centre-of-rape-story-says/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/sunday-times-reports-on-mike-meegan-minus-icross-0607/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/famed-charity-boss-lied-in-bid-to-get-us-grant-icross-mike-meegan/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/icross-commentary-and-detailed-links-to-facts-evidenced-in-sunday-times-article/

Tony Quinn~Educo

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/irish-independent-tony-quinn-firm-racks-up-loss-of-e1m-october-3rd-2005/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/healthy-cash-balance-for-tony-quinn-company-irish-independent-fri-210203-by-tom-lyons/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/tony-quinn-physician-heal-thyself-he-needs-to-come-home-and-manage-his-companies/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/irish-independent-tony-quinn-firm-racks-up-loss-of-e1m-october-3rd-2005/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/summary-of-media-coverage/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/healthy-cash-balance-for-tony-quinn-company-irish-independent-fri-210203/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/healthy-cash-balance-for-tony-quinn-company/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/irish-independent-tony-quinn-firm-racks-up-loss-of-e1m/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/tony-quinn-plays-voodoo-with-his-product-prices-in-jersey-and-revenue-thinks-he-is-kosher-in-dublin/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/the-gardai-investigate-crime-please-step-into-your/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/mind-guru-quinn-firm-hit-by-rising-losses-of-e285000/

SCIENTOLOGY NON CHURCH ORG
https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/scientology-organisation-so-critical-update/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/troubled-scientology-church-in-ireland-is-now-e1m-in-red/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/numbers-statistics-and-a-one-thousand-get/

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Sarah Horgan has a sure grasp of cultism. Here she starts with a general preview of the issues in discussion with Mike Garde, Director of Dialogue Ireland.

MG

Horgan article in word

cult piece in pdf.

Dedicated to challenge cults

Mike Garde, Director of Dialogue Ireland, has devoted his life to tackling cults in Ireland by Sarah Horgan – The Echo.

A GLOUNTHAUNE man who dedicated his life to helping families torn apart by cults has warned of a guru type figure advertising his services in Ireland.

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Arthur Whyte minus doctor will make further attempts to heal your wallet and lodge for free in your head.

Arthur Whyte1.jpeg

Knowing how much Mr. Whyte realises he is breaking up marriages and creating a car crash in a lot of peoples heads, he persists in draining his smaller and smaller group of members of human and material resources. He seems to have learnt from his master Tony Quinn to use other peoples money – OPM Continue reading

Dialogue Ireland attempts to meet Dennis Curran at a monastery in Moone, Co. Kildare

Dennis C pic

 

Dialogue Ireland has been involved in bringing the issue of Japa to the Irish public.
Initial reports showed how a company in Nenagh seemed to be brought under undue influence. The initial reports spoke about a Yoga group and we named it as Japa. Within days the Japa web site was taken down. Also all the Japa psychotherapists pretended they knew nothing about what was going on. We then had the remarkable situation where teachers who had been up to their eyes in sending folks to India and sending people to Dennis acted as if they were innocents abroad.
Recently we had a strange video put up by Fergal Cusack which is really revealing.
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A survivor of Japa is slowly smelling the coffee and the taste of freedom

Here is the testimony of a victim of Japa. Do read their story. We are hoping it will not be long before we get further evidence in regard to this group.

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/category/hindu/japa-yoga/

7ad66-japaimage

sahiDenis

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