Tips For Being A Good Communist Leader: or Why isn’t Pol Pot a Rockstar of the Left? (Part 3)

Posted by on December 23, 2013
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statuePart Three

(Read Part One and Part Two)

Although killing millions of people and hating the US are a very good start, they are not the only aspects of being a memorable leader. You have to consider the more personal touches to your rule. What makes you tick? When Barbara Walters interviews you and asked about what you do in your spare time, you really shouldn’t answer, “Cleaning my gun and watching the executions of my political enemies.” This may be true, but you want to project the aura of a wise and just person who is doing the best you can to help the people of your country from the imperialist Americans who wish to kill you at every turn.

To understand these leaders we need to examine their backgrounds to see what makes them so cuddly and wise. We have Mao the librarian, Castro the lawyer, Che the doctor, Stalin the failed seminary student and Pol Pot who was a teacher (yet a poor student in general.) Kim was born to his station and is a life-long politician. Nope, nothing there besides the possibility that the more education you have the more likely you are to get your face on a t-shirt. However, there is something the winners had in common. They were all authors. On top of that, Mao was a calligrapher and wrote poetry, as did Stalin (I shudder to think- was it like Tarantino writing Haiku?) Kim Jong-Il wrote several operas as well as directing films and being an all around ‘relatively normal’ renaissance man. He may have no books on the shelf, but an opera is worth at least two books, even if it’s a bad one. Sadly, our plucky Pol Pot never wrote any books or poetry in spite of being under house arrest for several years and having nothing better to do- poor show Pol!

Remember to show your softer side. Mao promoted the Hundred Flowers Movement in which he urged people to talk about any and everything they wanted, even critique the Party! This made him appear more relaxed, approachable and open minded. The fact that this movement didn’t last long and was followed by the persecution of anyone who was actually foolish enough to criticize the Party is seldom mentioned. People will remember your softer, more approachable side.

The final classification is the sexy quotient. Do looks have anything to do with popularity? Mind you, it’s not just looks, Kissinger had a period of tremendous sex appeal. The quotient also has to do with recognizability and that certain spark that make you go, ‘I’m not gay, but he’s good looking.” So let’s start with the Cuban duo. Castro wasn’t bad looking in his youth and is easily recognizable, but Che was pretty hot before he went all grunge. Yet some women like that dirty/ bad boy look. I’m assuming that Jane Fonda is talking about the unwashed Che when she mentions her biggest regret. So I’m giving Castro a 5 and Che a 7 (washed Che gets a 9). Stalin falls into the Kissinger category. He’s has solid, peasant good looks and probably had a lot of women take him up on the offers of mustache rides he was always giving. So I’ll give Stalin a 6. Mao… what can you say about Mao? When my hair gets too long it poofs out to the side like his and I’ve been told that’s not a good look on anyone… ever. I guess his peaceful expression is supposed to invoke thoughts of the Buddha so I’ll give him a 4, mainly because I’m cool with Buddha. Kim Jong-il had an entire state geared toward his self promotion and is revered as semi-divine (a swallow foretold his birth and a new star was created in the heavens when he was born- I’ll discount the double rainbow, they’re fairly common.) Kim also had the help of the Team America creators in creating his image- maybe not the image he wanted, but everyone in the US can identify him now and that definitely gives him a higher sexy quotient. That, along with his cuddly good looks definitely gets the middle Kim a 7. His son is just adorable and is also very edgy. Having someone who disagrees with you disintegrated with an RPG makes him dangerous, which is also very sexy, so an 8 for the young Kim. Oh dear, Pol Pot really falls down on this one. Not only do you never see his face, so there is no recognition factor. There doesn’t seem to be any iconic portrait that was ever circulated as with Stalin and Mao. There are certainly no t-shirts with his face on them. Now, he wasn’t a bad looking man, and even had somewhat kindly physiognomy, just somewhat forgettable. Maybe if he had grown a big bushy mustache I would give him more than a 5.

The last installment of this series will be a round-up of all the do’s and don’ts on how to be a beloved Communist despot and how to avoid Pol Pot’s ignominy.

(Read Part One and Part Two)


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Lloyd Dodd was a PhD student in International Relations at the University of Aberdeen, from which he also received his Master’s in Strategic Study. He’s currently trying to finish his dissertation from his home in Texas where the weather is better. His area of research is Military Keynesianism in Europe but currently hates it, academics, furry animals and probably you.