II. Tyrants Care About Power, Not Good Government
Good government requires institutional competence, popular legitimacy and trust – all things that tyrannical regimes struggle with. It also takes time away from the tyrant’s more important concerns. First, organising the brutalities needed to maintain their power. Second, enjoying the rewards of power without constraint: the godlike pleasure of utter domination over others. (A hint of this may be found in Randall Collins’ analysis of North Koreans desperately competing to echo and amplify whatever emotion their dear tyrant shows.)
Tyrants therefore have difficulty using their power of government to advance the interests of their country and people. However, they do have one advantage over democrats that makes the challenge of government easier for them: They are bad guys.
Note: A previous version of this essay appeared in 3 Quarks Daily
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Attribution: Thomas R. Wells is a philosopher at