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December 22, 2006


Steve Edwards

Have you forgotten Robert Mugabe? Now THAT man is pure comedy. It's too bad half the population of Zimbabwe has to eat grass just so we can chortle at their crazed leader.


Mugabe, unfortunately, is just your run of the mill tyrant, without any of the unintentional laughter factor of Turkmenbashi's hairbrained schemes or the comedy appeal of the Lodestar of Reunification. To make people laugh a dictator's got to throw in a few kooky ideas into the pot of killing and plundering, to spice things up, and on that score Mugabe falls terribly short, so no Comedy Club invites for him.


Are they still going to build that Ice Palace in the Turkmen desert then?

There is a theory that when dictators like Turkmenbashi (or Bokassa, Amin, Kim Jong Il, Caligula etc) behave so bizarrely it isn't because they have are insane or deluded or even because they expect the population to believe in the absurdities. Instead it reinforces the population's feeling of helplessness as they realise that although what they are seeing is preposterous they are too terrified even to laugh out loud.



While I'm sure the psychological effects of having to live under such nutcases must be dispiriting, I don't really think the Turkmenbashi types do what they do with such purposes in mind, as there've been any number of dictators who died peacefully in their beds unchallenged without having to act like kooks. Rather, I think what we see is what we get: the Bokassas, Amins, Saddams and Turkmenbashis act crazy because they *are* crazy, and as absolute rulers they get to act out the delusions less powerful men are usually driven unto the streets to rant about in the hearing of strangers.

The only dictator I'm willing to believe is just playacting is Kim Jong Il, who for all his viciousness has an uncanny knack for stepping back from the brink of disaster for someone supposedly off his rocker: it's the system he inherited and which legitimizes his despotism which is crazy, not the lecherous, vicious runt himself.

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