If you haven’t seen any videos by YouTuber CGP Grey, then you should check them out. I highly recommend them for being engaging and informative, as well as amusing in that they are mostly stick figure animations. Grey is one of those Millennial “explainer” YouTubers; I’ve blogged about them before. What gives these folks the credentials to speak authoritatively about the subject matters they cover? Basically, being intelligent and educated and willing to take the time to do some research and thinking.
I bring up CGP Grey because of this remarkable video of his titled “The Rules for Rulers.” It’s a 20 minute long primer on how to stay in power under various forms of government, including a dictatorship. There’s even an example of a coup which shows a little stick figure mob storming a government building. This is obviously relevant today.
I can’t speak for how accurate Grey’s video is in terms of political theory, but it is certainly compelling. The description of the video indicates that it is adapted from the book “The Dictator’s Handbook“. One of the basic tenets of rulership as described here is that, as a ruler, one must retain influence over the “keys to power.” These are the people/social elements that let you get things done.
We can see in this video that the little stick figure dictator needs the help of other stick figure “keys” that look like they belong to three distinct branches of society: the military, the police, and the business elites. A wannabe dictator pulling off a coup needs these keys. Sending a mob to storm a building is a useful ploy, but only when these keys are in the wannabe dictator’s pocket. The mob itself is not a key to power.
And so you can see the fundamental flaw in the plan of a certain wannabe dictator. He has a violent mob, but he doesn’t have all of those keys in his pocket. He certainly doesn’t have the business elites; they have deplatformed and pulled financial support from him and his political allies. And he doesn’t have the military, as evidenced by the statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in support of the U.S. Constitution and the incoming Biden administration.
Now it’s possible, unfortunately, that the wannabe dictator has some support from the police. It’s been known for a long time that police forces in the United States have been infiltrated by white supremacists. Connecting this fact to a certain leader’s need for keys to power casts a whole new light on the protests against police brutality last summer.
A violent mob and a percentage of rogue law enforcement officers is not enough influence to install a wannabe dictator in power, but is still a danger to the public. We’ve all seen the threatening postings on social media. While the coup has failed, we’re not out of the woods yet.
So be careful out there. Be prepared for some disruption in the days to come. Domestic terrorists can do a lot of harm, but they can’t take down our Republic. Their blind rage alone is powerless to overcome us.