FROM DICTATOR TO DEMIGOD

THE STRATEGIC LOGIC OF CULTS OF PERSONALITY

Why do dictators invent crazy myths about themselves? Are they crazy narcissists, strategic geniuses, or both? In this episode, we explore why North Korea’s former dictator claimed that he had written 18,000 books and invented “double bread with meat” (what we would call hamburgers). Why did Turkmenistan’s former dictator rename the months of the year after family members? And why does his successor release videos of him rapping terribly, or riding around on a bicycle while shooting a handgun? Why did Muammar Gaddafi, the former dictator of Libya have 100 Amazonian bodyguards as his protection and why did he end up pitching a massive Bedouin tent on Donald Trump’s golf course? It turns out that there is (sometimes) a method to their madness. We explore the strategic logic of cults of personality with stories that you won’t believe but are all too real.