English / 22.04.2020 / 1581
Every long-lived ruler knew they only had two tools for control: scheming and manipulation.
Why did Stalin make himself out to be weak, and not strong? Why did Stalin have no problem announcing to the Party Congress that he was too old to be running the country?
A wise leader understands they are weaker than those they lead. Not even the most terrible dictators are more powerful than the people they subjugate. A tenth of the population gets together, and there goes your dictator. One person is nothing before a crowd. If you are weaker than your subordinates, how do you control them?
Take women, for example. Women are weaker than men. A foolish girl would try to prove otherwise. A wise one would emphasize her fragility.
“To all the sovereigns of Europe, I am a skillful flirt” wrote Catherine the Great. The empress was in charge of great generals: Kutuzov and Suvorov. Each of them had enough men and resources to drive the German monarch from the throne. But they didn’t dare. She reigned for 34 years. Her cocky son, Paul, didn’t last five years.
Paul did not want to be a skillful flirt. Paul wanted to emphasize his power. Paul was used to giving orders. Which is why the Georgian prince struck him in the temple…
And that’s not unique to Russian history. This happened in all times and on all continents. The weak Cleopatra stayed in power for 21 years. Her powerful lover, Caesar, was overthrown after 16. English Queen Elizabeth I ruled for 45 years. Her successor lasted half as much. Elizabeth II has remained on the throne for 67 years. She outlived all her “responsible comrades”: Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, Yeltsin and Gorbachev, Nixon and Kennedy.
Elizabeth II is the quintessence of what authority is: enormous power in absolute weakness. The Queen holds no particularly important levers in hand. She’s just a woman… But somehow her word weighs more than those of every other leader on the planet combined. And somehow, Ian Fleming called his James Bond novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, not On Great Britain’s Secret Service.
And one more thing. Several years ago, there was a scandal. The Queen was revealed to own four apartments in Moscow.
“The Queen owns some real estate, which she rents out.” commented the British without batting an eye, promptly getting rid of the “extra” square footage. The Queen was then found to own some secret offshore accounts… And here’s the killer question: who does the legendary MI6 really serve..? Of course, we stick to the official story. The Queen loves buying apartments in countries she never visits and opening secret accounts she never uses. And the MI6, according to Wikipedia, serves the Foreign Secretary… But none of that is important. Don’t miss the main secret.
And the main secret to remaining in authority is this: understand what your power is and… demonstrate your weakness. Weakness allows for manipulation. Every long-lived ruler knew they only had two tools for control: scheming and manipulation.
This is why there is always competition for who is the most miserable. Whose country suffers the most? Whose people have it worse right now? Jewish people like to poke fun at their national trait: their ability to appear poorer than they are and to complain. It’s a useful talent for a ruler. Just like the God-given right to say:
“I’m just a dumb broad! What can you expect of me?”
And the man thinks:
“I am the master of the house! I am responsible for my family…”
In this moment, the man makes himself subordinate. And how can you not seize the opportunity to control someone so submissive..? This is how it happened in all times… And our times are no exception.
“The problem is, Nikolai, that you never finish anything you start. You don’t even have a degree,” my girlfriend scolded me. We were on the subway.
She had just received some money to make a website, where she would eventually put up some boring local news. The site had dramatically less subscribers than even her Facebook page. In a couple years, the project went bankrupt. But she never lost her faith in the magical formula:
“You need closure. Every beginning has an end…”
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