After reading this handbook, I concluded I had been far to generous about dictators and how horrible they were.
The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alistair Smith
In a previous academic book, The Logic of Political Survival, the authors and others presented arguments in favor of a political model called selectorate theory. The Dictator’s Handbook is the popular (non-mathematical) version of that book. Oftentimes in political discourse we take disparate political systems and filter them into a one dimensional axis, with democracy on one end and autocracy on the other (a similar filtering happens when widely varying views on morality and policy are squeezed into the left-right axis). What selectorate theory instead argues for is a categorization of political systems into three nested groups:
- The nominal selectorate, or interchangeables, includes those people who have at least some legal say in the selection of political leaders. In United States federal elections, this includes all adults over the age…
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