April 30, 2007

Would You Rather?

Would you rather…

  • Live in chaos or
  • Live under a dictator?

The chaos is violently chaotic. On the other hand, the dictator is oppressive, and not politically aligned with you.

Posted by James at April 30, 2007 6:22 AM
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Chaos, I think. Under a dictator, if you fight back, you get outnumbered. At least in Chaos, I'd have a fighting chance.

Posted by: bob McCown at April 30, 2007 8:44 AM

Chaos is certainly the "choice" we've given the Iraqis. It doesn't seem to me that they're better off that way....

Posted by: Barry Leiba at April 30, 2007 9:00 AM

I'm a chicken. I'd rather have the lousy dictator, as long as it's not like 1984 where your neighbors and children spy on you. Maybe even if it is like that. Scary.

Posted by: Maggie at April 30, 2007 9:41 AM

This is the best "Would You Rather" yet. Dictator for me, which makes me a bit more sympathetic to the people who put up with them.

Posted by: Mike at April 30, 2007 9:45 AM

Assuming I behave as the dictator wants me to, I'd choose to live in a dictatorship rather than endanger the lives of my children.

Posted by: Chuck S. at April 30, 2007 10:15 AM

I guess this is a "depends" answer. Depends on how well I'd be able to defend myself in chaos, vs. how well I could live under the dictator. I don't even know where to begin with the assumptions. If I'm among the dictator's oppressed, then I'd probably be more willing to take my chances with the chaos.

For me, a tougher question would be "chaos vs. dictator who oppresses many, but affords you a cushy lifestyle." I'm not going to pretend that I wouldn't be tempted by that.

Posted by: Julie at April 30, 2007 10:17 AM

I'm with Julie on this one. Even if you are not politically aligned under a dictator, if you toe the line, you might be okay. On the other hand, while Iraq is in chaos, there are less chatoic parts of the country, so it depends on the type and level of the chaos.

I guess I'd ultimately go for living in chaos and try to find the least chaotic parts of the country to live in. With chaos, you run the risk of dying randomly. With a dictator of an opposing party, you are more likely to be specifically singled out.

Posted by: briwei at April 30, 2007 11:55 AM

Since one of the conditions is that it's violently chaotic, I wouldn't assume that finding a "less chaotic" area is an option. I assumed that the country is uniformly violent and chaotic (or that the least violent area is still significantly violent). Obviously no one is going to opt to live in a *more* violent area. But I'd still prefer to get killed that way than be hunted by the dictator's minions. I hate minions!

Posted by: Julie at April 30, 2007 12:08 PM

Of course, it nearly always depends on something, which is the frustrating thing about "Would You Rather."

It's still interesting to answer whether, with limited information about how bad the dictator is or how violent the area is, what you would choose if you had the choice.

While more detailed information about the situation might change your answer, in reality we must ask exactly how good our information really ever is. Who is to say that the situation will not change (can you trust the dictator? can you avoid violence?)

Also, I was considering requesting that people think about how this applies to their own country and not necessarily imagine being plopped into another country already in progress. In other words, what if your home country became a dictatorship, vs. what if it collapsed into chaos with the resulting loss of social and economic structure.

Personally, I'd choose the dictator, though I hate authoritarianism. Of course, there are different degrees of both dictatorships and chaos. However, if it's a choice between a really horrible dictator and the somehow-equivalent level of chaos (if that's even possible to measure) the chaos might be even more of a problem. Dictators oppress people, but they bring some measure of stability that might be useful in either liberating yourself or liberating the country.


Posted by: James at April 30, 2007 3:44 PM

This was sort of the subject of the most recent Stargate SG-1 episode, which I just saw yesterday, so some of these things were fresh in my mind. (Beau Bridges was president, so there was even a President Landry. If that isn't scary, I don't know what is.)

Posted by: Julie at April 30, 2007 4:12 PM

Chaos, definitely. Even an orderly dictator is scary - think Stalin, or Hitler. My minor was in Russian and East European studies, and I'll take chaos any day.

Of course, I'd rather go to Key West, join the Conch Republic and drink margaritas.

Posted by: Cindy at April 30, 2007 7:29 PM

Personally, I'd put Hitler on the level of "your neighbors have turned into zombies and are smashing in your windows" level of chaos. But that's just me.

Posted by: James at April 30, 2007 8:28 PM

Hmm, you're right on that one. Still, though, it seems to me that with chaos, you would have at least some control of your own situation. Whether that's true or just how someone like me perceives it, that is what is more appealing about chaos vs. a dictator.

Posted by: Cindy at May 1, 2007 1:25 AM

I think as an individual I would rather have chaos where I thought I might be able to enact change. As a father I would rather have a dictator, if I believed I could raise my children in relative, if oppressive , safety.

Boy, thinking in these terms it's easy to appreciate the freedoms we take for granted.

Posted by: Lefty at May 1, 2007 11:56 AM


Posted by: James at May 1, 2007 12:23 PM


Posted by: leslie at May 3, 2007 12:30 PM

I think I could handle chaos. It's the violent part I'd be unhappy with.

Posted by: James at May 3, 2007 1:05 PM

I'd rather have the lousy dictator, as long as it's not like 1984 where your neighbors and children spy on you.

Speaking of living in East Germany with the Stasi, I saw The Lives of Others last week. Very good.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 3, 2007 1:26 PM

Bonus: The leading man, played by Sebastian Koch, is hot.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 3, 2007 1:30 PM


If I have chaos, I can't bring everyone back together into some "normal" state of being. But with a dictator, I just need to destroy that person's power base and build in the vacuum that exists.

Posted by: George at May 9, 2007 11:33 PM

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