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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Next Wave

In game theory and social choice theory, the notion of a dictator is formally defined as a person that can achieve any feasible social outcome he/she wishes. The formal definition yields an interesting distinction between two different types of dictators.

The weak dictator has, for any social goal he/she has in mind, and for any political scenario, a course of action that would bring about the desired goal. For the weak dictator, it is usually not enough to "give her orders", rather he/she has to manipulate the political scene appropriately. This means that the weak dictator might actually be lurking in the shadows, working within a political setup that seems to be non-dictatorial. An example of such a figure is Lorenzo the Magnificent, who controlled Renaissance Florence.

Note that these definitions disregard some alleged dictators, e.g. Benito Mussolini, who are not interested in the actual achieving of social goals, as much as in propaganda and controlling public opinion.

Coming Next
The Return of Bird Flu: If Identifiable Cases in Third Phase Emerge