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Let's say I'm a normal person, in my thirties, having the ability to travel to alternate realities. These realities are similar to ours, but they get worse each time. New wars, disasters, greater overall suffering etc... I can only travel forward, i.e. from best to worst realities.

For example, I might travel to a world where a few nuclear bombs were dropped on civilians during the cold war. Then to a world where the same bombs were dropped, and a deadly virus wiped out half a billion people. Then to a world with the same bombs and virus, plus the fact that pizza was never invented!

But I don't care how terrible the world become as long as I can rule a decent part of it (at least a country). It's the mid 70's, I live in France, I have few funds and no political experience, but I always come from "a better place" and have quite some time to achieve my goal.

So far, I imagine I could, for example, take a few best-seller books, travel with them until I find a reality where the author died prematurely, and sell them under my name to get some money and fame. Or any other variation on the same theme, be it art, music, technology etc...
But I struggle to find how knowing a better reality can give me a definitive edge on ruling part of a worse one.

A few rules about the "travels" (might be expanded if necessary):
- I can bring stuff with me, but not too much of it: it must pass through a door and into a small room (2m x 2m).
- When I travel, my "above" and "below" alter-egos do the same. We never encounter each other but tests have shown that if I decide to leave a message to my follower, my predecessor has a good chance to do the same (i.e. the close versions of me seem to act more or less the same way).
- I don't travel in time, nor in location, only in "worseness" and always from better to worse.
- The changes may be more gradual than what was put as examples. - These rules are based on what I experienced so far. Maybe one day I'll meet an alter-ego. I just expect things to go on as they did so far (getting worse, not meeting myself unless things really get screwed up).

And about me:
- I'm a french male in my thirties during the 70's, but I have some time to achieve my goals (30 to 40 years if necessary, but the sooner the better).
- I'm kind of a bastard (hence the "rule as a dictator" part).
- I have a young daugther, but I already left the "true" version of her during my first travel (don't worry, another version of me took my place). I don't really care about friends and family of each realities (see previous point).
- I fought in the last years of the Algerian War (ending in 62, french side), but didn't achieve a particularly high rank.

So the question is:
How can I (authoritatively) rule France by traveling to worse alternate realities?

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You can't, you're too soft.

You're talking about making money through arts and luxury food. If you go that far down the line to pizza not existing, you'll probably find food is a luxury.

The trouble is that you're going the wrong way, you've had a relatively easy life compared to these places. You may think you're a bit of a bastard, but that's relative to a soft place. Once you're down a few levels you'll start meeting people who'll happily kill you for a crust of bread. The ones who've thrived and achieved power in these places will roll over you like you don't exist.

You don't become dictator via going from easy to hard, you get it by going from hard to easy.

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    $\begingroup$ Even if he were a bad ass, this would only seem plausible if he arrived in a France with less then 10 people left to rule over.. $\endgroup$ – A.bakker Jan 8 at 9:56
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    $\begingroup$ But I'm stuck with easy to hard, or else it wouldn't be an interesting question. Also, my example might be a bit extreme (I'm sorry if I shocked people with non-existing pizza), but in reality the changes can be more gradual. Either way, if the general population is softer in the "easy" realities, I'm talking about a single individual with a magic door, from a world that may be softer, but not devoid of war and violence. He won't go with no clue in a world full of super sayans, he will go with a plan in a crappier world, which could even have a higher tendency to fall into authoritarianism. $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 8 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Keelhaul, it's not that they're super sayans, it's that they're survivors, to thrive in a tougher world, they have to be physically and mentally tougher. Your hero is going to be increasingly soft relative to the people around him as he goes down the line and taking over a country requires someone hard. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 8 at 10:28
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    $\begingroup$ It's basically the answer I'd give, but I would also add that eventually you'll end up in a version of France still ruled by the Nazis that will send you to a death camp for owning unsanctioned, non-Nazi, degenerous art. If bringing arts to a crapsack world isn't pointless, chances are it'll be a reason to burn you to the stake. $\endgroup$ – AmiralPatate Jan 9 at 9:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Keelhaul The problem is, if he can't rule as a dictator where he already is, there's good chance the next world over is going to be even harder, not easier. You would need to have a very specific progression between the worlds to give the protagonist an advantage, rather than the opposite. And the thing is, it probably wouldn't be worthwhile - travel to a world with a substantially smaller population, and being a dictator (even if you can) will result in blatantly lower quality of life than just staying home in your reality. Do you actually want him to succeed, or just get a bitter ending? :) $\endgroup$ – Luaan Jan 10 at 7:38
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Abusing techno-sociology for fun and profit

Brace yourself, you're going to have to do a lot of jumping to make this plan work.

It's easy to conquer a low-tech world if you're coming from a high-tech one - whether it's through raw force or by providing a luxury that they can't do without. The problem with your method of world-hopping, of course, is that you're not jumping to low-tech worlds - you're jumping to "worse" ones, presumably worlds of violence, oppression, and war.

And war has always been a major motivator for accelerating the development of new technology. So you're not likely to find an easily conquered world by jumping one or two times - the first few worlds you jump to will probably have more advanced weapon technology. Even if you're focusing on luxury tech, that just gives them more of a reason to shoot you and take it for themselves.

But technological development has an interesting pattern: War accelerates the creation of new practical technology by applying existing theories, but most advances in theory - which are important for the long-term development of technology - are made in peacetime. The reason for this is twofold:

  1. Technology flourishes when inventors from different countries are able to interact and share their discoveries, while war breeds mistrust and isolation, slowing this process.
  2. Oppressive societies tend to actively crush the development of new ideas among civilians, especially when those new ideas have the potential to take away the power of the ruling class.

While the first few worlds you visit will likely have technology better than yours, at some point you're going to start arriving in worlds that have been crushed under the boot of oppression for so long that they never passed through the peaceful periods which allowed technology to flourish. You're going to see technological advancements start to decline. At this point, you're basically travelling back in time, technology-wise - with all the benefits that implies.

Eventually you're going to hit worlds that are still stuck in the Dark Ages, while you've got pieces of modern tech. Find a country under the rule of an oppressive dictator (there should be plenty), promise the people that you'll free them from their oppression, then waltz into the castle and mow down the king and his guards with your SMG. You are now the savior of the people (and a mighty wizard that none will dare oppose) and should be able to easily claim the throne for yourself.

Moreover, this plan will work for all of your instances. While you're conquering a Medieval Stasis world with modern weapons, your counterpart from that world is conquering the stone age with their unbreakable steel sword, and this world is being invaded by your "higher-world" counterpart's army of personal robots.

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    $\begingroup$ History is littered with the corpses of technologically superior yet outnumbered outsiders that have attempted to seize local power structures. I don't think it's as simple as you think it is for one man with a fancy way to kill people to become king - there are plenty of people who will attempt to use the "old fashioned" methods against him, and only one needs to succeed. One gun will put you in charge of a room, but not a country. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Jan 8 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang - To be fair, he never said how long he wanted to be in charge ... $\endgroup$ – bta Jan 8 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ Good idea, but you need to go quite far, and I have to agree with Nuclear Wang, it will be hard to rule just by having a gun. $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 9 at 9:13
  • $\begingroup$ This, but bring so much more than a gun. Bring stacks of books on all kinds of technologies throughout history. $\endgroup$ – Mirror318 Jan 9 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ You won't last long with just a machine gun - some disgruntled lord will kill you with a knife in the back, or with poison. Or you'll find that somehow your tax agents "vanish", only to find out far too late that they are all bribed by local lords. Or one of a dozen other medieval ploys. (Dictators live and die by the support of their followers, regardless of tech level or any other individual traits.) $\endgroup$ – toolforger Jan 9 at 12:38
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Screw "Yourself" Over and Over Again

Pick realities that are very close to your own - you aren't looking for a big change.

  1. Take out loans. As many as you can, no matter how shady the lender
  2. Buy Gold
  3. Leave, sticking your alternate self with the loans but taking the gold
  4. Repeat

After a couple dozen cycles you'll be carrying around a significant amount of gold. You might have to buy wheelbarrows somewhere along the way. A standard gold bar is about 13 kilograms / 27 pounds, and is worth over $35,000. A wheelbarrow full of those is going to be worth a fair amount.

Now, buy a gold mine.

If you've progressed far enough down the "worse" scale, you should be able to find a timeline where some mines you know about (because you did your homework before you left!) haven't been discovered yet due to instability / lack of development. They may be overseas. Grab one, ideally somewhere impoverished but stable. Either do it on credit, or sell some of your gold.

Now you have a money maker, and a great way to launder the piles of riches you've smuggled in from other worlds.

Rich is basically the same as powerful. After a couple of years of not-quite printing your own money, you move into politics.

If France is still democratic in your final world, start doing highly visible charitable work as soon as your operation is up and running, and then run as a businessman / philanthropist when the time comes.

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    $\begingroup$ Thing is, with the condition of "- When I travel, my "above" and "below" alter-egos do the same. We never encounter each other but tests have shown that if I decide to leave a message to my follower, my predecessor has a good chance to do the same (i.e. the close versions of me seem to act more or less the same way)." if you choose this strategy, then this means that once you arrive to the next world with your gold, you're beset with debt collectors who want back the loans "the next you" took before moving on... with interest. $\endgroup$ – Peteris Jan 8 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ Gold tends to be worth more in less stable environments, so you can still make a profit on each jump $\endgroup$ – Fred Stark Jan 9 at 0:09
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    $\begingroup$ Peteris has a point, but the "gold mine never found" idea is an interesting variation of the "unknown best-seller" option $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 9 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ I think people are forgetting that banking systems actively protect against people waltzing and taking out big loans. That's a point of a credit score, an indication of how much your bank trusts you $\endgroup$ – Varad Mahashabde Jan 9 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ @VaradMahashadbe - that's why I specifically call out shady lenders. The kind of people who break your kneecaps don't check credit scores. ;-) $\endgroup$ – codeMonkey Jan 9 at 20:54
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Spending time in worse realities and trying to grab power there brings out the worst traits in your character. The worse a reality is, the more corrupt and criminal the society is. Every time you travel to a worse reality you adapt to this and become a nastier person. In the end, after 40 years of travelling and hundreds or thousands of travels, you become so nasty that if you were to get in power, you would be the worst possible ruler for France. Because of this, it is inevitable that in the worst possible version of France you are the dictator.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your contribution and welcome to the site! Separatrix has a point though : I may be getting nastier, but some already nasty guys in my world will be too in the next ones. $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 9 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah but you're voluntarily learning to be nastier and nastier, so you get to a point when you're able to auto-"enhance" yourself to the point that you get nastier-er than the people of your reality. This answer would make an awesome short story. I love it. $\endgroup$ – Echox Jan 9 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ Plot twist for a sequel: after somebody almost kills him in that reality, so he activates travelling device in a hurry, our bastard arrives back in original world that is in its 00's, being so much nastier than when he departed. $\endgroup$ – val says Reinstate Monica Jan 10 at 11:35
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Share what you know

You don’t extract the greatest benefits from this condition by being “kind of a bastard”, you extract them by being a nice guy and sharing what you know of a better world with the people you encounter in your present reality. Also, you treat your successor alternative-self as well as you can and leave things in good order to ensure your predecessor will do the same for you.

First you learn as much as you can about history, geopolitics, and the craft of writing (which will be less well understood the further you step), then you step down and become a political influencer by writing alternative-world “fiction” about how things could have been better, and pay the bills by tutoring and editing the work of other writers. When you run out of ideas you promise a sequel about an even sunnier reality and step down to lower level of reality where you will actually be able to fulfil that brief. As Fred Stark says commenting on another answer, gold tends to be worth more in less stable environments, so you take most of your advance with you in that form. After a while you’ll be able to make money from after-dinner speaking, and eventually run for office. Once in power, any time you run out of idea for reforms you just step down to a lower level of reality again.

You might get a better life just by retiring from public office, milking the after-dinner circuit, and taking lucrative consulting work from large corporations, but if you still want to be a dictator, ensure you’re swept into power on a wave of populism big enough such that you can alter the political system in order to stay in power.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site! Ruling by making the world a better place? That's quite different to what was proposed until now, I like it :) I don't know if fictions about "how your world could be less crappy" could really sell that well, but this is another direction worth investigating into $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 9 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @Keelhaul! Yes, but the real point is to make you look good by taking the credit for ideas which have already been road-tested in a slightly better version of reality. That’s the only real edge you've got as far as I can see, and as long as the economic cycle is behind where it was in the place you’ve just come from, you’d be a visionary. $\endgroup$ – Antony Jan 9 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ But yes, @Keelhaul, it’s the weakest part of my plan, and it’s a bit meta! Would worldbuilding which had perfect verisimilitude find an audience? $\endgroup$ – Antony Jan 10 at 18:36
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You are already living in the worst realities. And yet you haven't found the way to rule France as dictator. Same with any other reality. You would waste a lot of time to "research" what you can extort that you would literally waste time not extorting the thing.

You literally talk about jumping more and more to lower the difficulty. Thus finding the desired one only to be one last french man, weakened by starvation, minutes from dying to be "right" one.

If you look at world in the 70's it was (like it is in any time) ripe to take. Just go to a bank, take a loan, hire a bunch of dogs of war and help some country gain "independence". As a Algerian War veteran you should realise how it is done.

The "less weakened" the reality you are the MORE opportunities you have. People are more frivolous to spend money (because YSL live and create and not die in bomb attack in Algeria), security is less strict (look at plane security prior to 9/11). You can get away with more. Think about death sentence for food thieves and just 6 months in comfy jail for stealing millions.

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Depends. Can you influence the way in which the reality you travel to will be worse than this one, or is it random?

If you can steer it, then you can try to engineer a France that is worse in a specific way that you can take advantage of. Essentially you can pose a question that you have the answer to. So maybe you slip to a France where the military took many more causalties during the Algerian war and are hero-worshipped. You slip to a France where not only did this happen but the Algerians bombed the military records unit and some of your records got destroyed. You slip to a France where as well as the above a banking error totally bankrupted some really worthy charity and you happened to end up as the beneficiary. You get to the point where you can fabricate a much more glorious record of your military history. Then you slip to a version that has all of the above but some event happens that makes a military coup feasible - maybe the democratic government starts passing oppressive laws that happen to annoy the top brass. All the while, in all these worlds, you self-publicise like mad and act like the good guy, the go-to man. When the coup comes, and the military government want a figurehead with some military connection so as to be acceptable to them but also wide public popularity, they come to you. At this point you've managed to become a puppet ruler, now you want to become the real thing. So you slip to a version where some biological warfare vaccine introduced after you left the military turns out to have long term side effects, rapidly killing off all the senior military running the government. With the behind-the-scenes military rulers weakened or dead, you find yourself in the perfect position to cement yourself in true power.

Or just short-cut the whole thing and slip to the version of France where you stand for election on a completely authoritarian platform and win, after all from what you've described of your selfish, sociopathic character that is a worse reality than the real 1970s France.

If the nature of the "worseness" is outside your control then I would not recommend partaking at all: the first time you slip you might go to a version of France where the USSR attacked and you have about 1 minute until you get hit by one of the thousands of nukes raining down.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sadly, I can't influence my travels :( $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 9 at 9:23
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Everyone will be hard and nasty in these worse worlds, so why not bring about a revolution in consciousness? Stock up on LSD, hippie music, and sandals, and bring them with you as you introduce, like, peace and love man, to a world that only knows war. Just be aware that you are not the first person to have this idea: Jesus came from heaven.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting parallel, but I don't want to end up in a cross :p $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 9 at 9:04
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How can I (authoritatively) rule France by traveling to worse alternate realities?

Your chances are slim.

  1. That is our reality in 1970.

  2. Going to worse realities, soon you will get one where Germany won WW2 and France will likely be a puppet state of Germany serving the masters of the superior race or will perhaps even be germanized altogether. At this place, you might either:

    • A. Want to free France from the nazi empire (likely ran by a direct successor of Hitler or a second successor of him).
    • B. Join the other side and be the nazi-aligned ruler from the superior race in France.


    Since the world is a worse place, B might be easier. Taking that option, the advantage that you have is likely a knowledge of what would happen if Germany lost the war. Be a French nazi from a superior race wanting to rule France and use your knowledge about weaknesses that Germany had to "improve things", get the trust of the German rulers and serve as the French defendant of the nazi empire. Obviously, many things might go wrong here, since nazis, especially bearing power, aren't exactly a definition of nice people to have to work with.

    If you however want A, then use the knowledge that could only be made available due to the defeat of Germany for your cause (like the existence of the horrors at Auschwitz) and denounce the nazi regime.

    Either way, your chances are slim.

  3. Traveling back a few more times, you will eventually reach a reality where transistors were not invented and nobody thought about relativity. At this place, you may propose those concepts, be considered a brilliant scientist, get a Nobel Prize and then try to run for an election (or be nominated) as president of France (possibly having nazis, soviets, or who-know-what with or against you, since this alternate reality is way worse than our current one).

  4. Traveling a few more times, you will end in a reality where the French revolution got really bad, either by Napoleon severely screwing up the country losing the war at French territory to England, or perhaps by having Robespierre become a great long-lived blood-thirsty dictator and then having the France be invaded by England, Prussia, Russia, germanic states and others. It is hard to know how France will be in 1970, but it will likely be an impoverished state controlled by foreign powers, specially knowing that this is strictly worse than anything you had seen before.

  5. Traveling some more times, you will end in a reality where French lost the Hundred Years' War, became a puppet state of England, and there is no such thing to call as France in 1970. Considering that this must be worse than anything before, history from then-on didn't correct or fixed itself, it in fact must had been full of wars, bloodshed, terror, angst and misery, much worse than our own history.

  6. Traveling some more times, you will end in a reality where the moors conquered French, that Charles Martel had never been born, and the moors craved their presence in Europe in the Middle Ages and then crushed the christianism. Having particularly no reason to travel the seas 750 years later, it is likely that the Americas will be kept undiscovered for a longer time (possibly up to the 1700's or 1800's). Anyway, the Frank kingdom would be no more than a small note in history books about a short-lived barbaric kingdom that ceased to exist more than a thousand of years ago.

    However, this might be interesting. You could bring in a lot of knowledge (likely geologic or botanic) about the Americas that will probably be very undeveloped even at the 1970 and use it for your own favor.

    If you are lucky enough, even at 1970 things like electricity will never have been invented or will be very poorly developed and understood and you might use that knowledge to make money and then use the money to rule the land between the Britannic Islands and the Iberian Peninsula, whatever being the name or the political structure given to it.

  7. A few more travels, maybe Mohammed never existed and there was no moors or islamism at all.

  8. Traveling some more times, you will end in a reality where Attila won the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains and became a powerful and long lived blood-thirsty emperor, having conquered, the East Roman Empire, the West Roman Empire and all of the barbarian tribes and also reverted christianism back to paganism. Only God knows what could happen then, but given the fact that this is strictly worse than any other reality already visited, it will surely be a pityful mess. Anyway with this, it is extremely unlikely that France would even ever exist.

  9. Traveling a lot of more times, you will eventually reach a reality where a large Mass Extinction Event wiped out much of the land vertebrates, including all the hominids. Other than you, there is no such thing to call as human living on this planet anymore and there will never be.

  10. Traveling still a lot of more times, you will eventually reach a reality where a planetesimal collision went terribly bad and destroyed the proto-Earth altogether having something else removed the debris from the newly formed asteroid ring to ensure that no live-bearing planet would ever be formed.

The problem is that when you come reality 1, another yourself would travel to a different reality (call it 1.1) and the yourself from 1.1 will travel to 1.2, the yourself from 1.2 will travel to 1.3 ... Then yourself from 1.9 will travel to 2. The guy from 2 will go to 2.1 ... Until someone will eventually land in 9. But at this point, there is nobody from 9 to go to a worse reality.

This means that your chain of another yourselfs travelling to even worser realities is broken. Eventually a reality that you won't exist at all will show up. In fact, we don't need to go so far as to reach reality 9, it is very possible that 1 already changes enough to ensure that your parents will never meet or will die before being able to get kids or anything like that.

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Several other answers are correct in that you're much more likely to succeed when going from "bad" to "good" than vice versa. So that's exactly what you do, only in your situation you have to take the long way around.

Let's number your realities for ease of reference. Your world is 0, the world through your "worse" door is -1, and the world through your "better" door is +1. Every time you jump, your +1 self jumps into the world that you used to occupy. Since the rules apply to everybody, that means your +2 self jumps into world +1, your +3 self jumps into +2, etc. This implies that there are an infinite number of worlds in the "+" direction.

You said that the different versions of yourself never encounter each other. This implies that there also have to be an infinite number of worlds in the "-" direction. Otherwise, the lowest-world version of you would have nowhere to jump, and two versions of you would encounter each other (a paradox). This also implies that the worlds in the "-" direction can't actually continue to get worse infinitely, or at some point you'd enter a world so bad that you immediately stumble across the corpse of your -1 alter ego who was instantly killed by the toxic environment (another paradox).

How do you reconcile these observations? At any point in time, (current world -1) appears "worse" than the current world. If you could observe all realities at the same time, however, you would describe your universe as a closed ring of realities that transition from "good" to "bad" and back again. You see, you adapt to new realities fairly quickly and as you do so, your opinions of subjective concepts like "better" or "worse" start to shift as well. Eventually, you'll see the next world down the line as worse than the current world, but the original world-0 version of yourself would see that same change as an improvement. The real mind-bending part is that this description is accurate for every version of you, no matter which reality you started in.

Keep traveling around the cycle until you get to world +250 or so. They probably haven't had so much as a fistfight in decades. It shouldn't be too hard to subjugate a group of them and bootstrap your evil plan.

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  • $\begingroup$ Since each world has to be worse (even if that's a bit subjective) than the other, it's hard to justify how it would somehow loop on itself : there would be a point where the next world seems better to me, and I'd like to avoid that. Still, interesting take on the question ;) $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 9 at 9:29
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    $\begingroup$ The ring concept makes no sense to me. It seems to be predicated on the idea that there must be a finite number of "worse" worlds because... the reality jumper is disallowed from dying in any of the realities? There can still be worse realities than one that's lethally toxic, you'll just need a protective suit to visit them. No clue how worseness is supposed to "wrap around" - in what way is world +250 supposed to be worse than your bottom-most world? $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Jan 9 at 16:12
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I'm going to latch onto the military service part. When the military isn't busy fighting full on wars, they are improving their processes and creating contingency plans. The military also aids in humanitarian crisis, so every step to a worse world, is one where the military is more depleted dealing with problems.

By bringing your first hand learned improved processes, and knowledge of contingency plans made in better realities that never needed them, Every step down you will be a "Next gen soldier" who "Always knows what to do" and is a "brilliant mind". And since you next self is doing the same thing, that means each version of yourself is on the fast track for promotions. After enough iterations, you will be promoted to head of the military. With enough jumps, the situation will become worse enough that the military need to take control to preserve order, and a dictator is born.

Of course this reality will be a hell hole compared to the one you started in. But you know the saying "Better to reign in Hell than Serve in Heaven".

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  • $\begingroup$ Ah, but if you get promoted to rank X, don’t you lose that when you jump again? $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Jan 10 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ @WGroleau No, because when you jump, the you in the next world was doing the same thing, and also received the promotion. $\endgroup$ – Tezra Jan 10 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ The next world is worse, therefore different. OP didn’t say he is never one of the differences, nor that what it takes to reach his goal is the same in each world. $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Jan 10 at 15:35
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Note: This answer is based on obsolete wording in the original question that suggested that all jumps happen at the same time by decision from each alter-ego. Which leads me to conclude they have similar or shared motives and thinking process, then extrapolate. For an answer that doesn't use this premise see here

Start with some definitions

So, what do we know?

  • There are other realities that are "better" and "worse" than the current one you occupy.
  • They are all similar enough to have yourself in them.

So, let's define our terms (inspired by bta's answer):

  • we have you as a reference point. It's the one who is asking the question. We'll label that you.
    • you-1 is the version of you from the worse reality you are going to travel to next.
    • you+1 is the version of you from the better reality immediately before yours. Presumably, you've been there previously (unless you haven't travelled at all yet).
  • Similarly reality is the one you currently occupies.
    • reality-1 is the worse reality that you-1 occupies.
    • reality+1 is the better reality that you+1 occupies.

Mathematically provable that you cannot!

OK, stick with me here as I definitely prove you're not going to rule or you don't want to.

So, with the above definitions in mind what do we know about the travel:

  • When you travels, then you-1 also travels.
  • When you-1 travels, then you-2 travels.

We can thus generalise that all you to you-n (where n is a positive integer) all travel at the same time.

We can observe the same relationship in the other direction: everyone from you to you+n also travel at the same time.

  • To generalise again: you+m (where m spans [+∞, -∞]) all move at the same time.

Next, we also know that this is a decision. You are not forced into immediate relocation if one version of you moves. Not explicitly at least. We can theorise that there is some unconscious link that drives all of you. Or maybe you all have similar enough thinking so you come to the same decision together. It matters little what the exact mechanism is, since the result is the the same.

We can define a simple recursive algorithm with these terms.

  • you wants to be dictator.
  • you is willing to jump until you find a reality where you can achieve that dream.
jump(reality)
   if (I_can_become_dictator())
     return;

  jump(reality-1)

In simple terms, if you can achieve your dream you'd stop jumping. If you cannot, you will.

You are doomed!

This has rather unfortunate implications when you take into account the shared decision making, since all of you+m jump at the same time through decision. When you transition to reality-1 that's where you-1 was and they also made the decision to jump.

  • Since, they would essentially be running the same algorithm as you, it means you-1 could not become a dictator, either. If they could, they wouldn't have jumped.
  • Alternatively, you-1 did manage to become a dictator in reality-1, yet they still decided they wanted to move. That means it's bad to be a dictator there.

In either case, you are all doomed. If you're making jumps at all, that means that none of you-n succeeded or a worse reality was still more desirable than the success.

All of you are doomed!

We can examine this in the other direction - you+n would live in a better world. For high enough values of n this would be some sort of utopia. All of you+n are never satisfied. They are all willing to travel to worse places and run away from the utopia into worse and worse realities. Same thing happens to you-n - they just go into worse and worse realities, too.

Again, if you make a jump, so does everybody else, hence the mere fact that you are making a jump is proof of the failure of you+m to find a place you like.

So, it seems like the only winning move is not to jump.

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  • $\begingroup$ Unless each of my me (mes?) is slightly different than the others. At one point, one of my good me won't want to rule, or will stop wanting it, or won't be as tough as the first one to succeed and stop, being driven by the "unconscious link that drives all of me" $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 10 at 9:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Keelhaul in that case one of three things would happen : a) one of you+n would stop jumping. This doesn't impact the scenario much - everybody "below" that will keep jumping as normal. b) one of you-n would stop jumping. Eventually you'll catch up with that version and all others up to you. Chances are you would stay as the decision making process you all go through is similar enough. c) you decide to stop. Expect visitors from you+n to come there as they experience scenario b) $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 10 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ Also, for the record, the scenario you described now is in conflict with the scenario described in the question. The question clearly shows all versions of you must come to the same conclusion. They they don't, then that completely changes the premise, since each version would be capable of independent decision making for whether to jump or not. Thus, we can conclude that you can just cooperate - leave a note that says "meet me after next jump" and wait - you'd have multiple alternative versions join you at reality-1. You can all work together now. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 10 at 9:38
  • $\begingroup$ They can still all decide to jump without doing it for the same reason. Or maybe some won't and that will be an interesting development. The only thing that is sure, it's that so far, it worked as described. So when I plan my takeover, I don't care if that premise will still be true for +100 me or -100 me. $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 10 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ If they have a different reason to jump, they still jump when you do. Or you jump when they do - same thing. Since your goal is dictatorship and you make jumps in order to get that and everybody else also jumps at the same time, then that doesn't imply independent motives. If there were independent motives, then you'd meet somebody. Yet the question states that's not happening. Again, what you describe here is in conflict with the logic laid out in the question. Either everybody is independent and you cross paths or nobody is and you don't. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 10 at 9:53
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Stemming from the assumption that each alter-ego has completely independent motivation and reasoning process. This takes on an entirely different direction from my other answer.

Start with some definitions

So, what do we know?

  • There are other realities that are "better" and "worse" than the current one you occupy.
  • They are all similar enough to have yourself in them.

So, let's define our terms (inspired by bta's answer):

  • we have you as a reference point. It's the one who is asking the question. We'll label that you.
    • you-1 is the version of you from the worse reality you are going to travel to next.
    • you+1 is the version of you from the better reality immediately before yours. Presumably, you've been there previously (unless you haven't travelled at all yet).
  • Similarly reality is the one you currently occupies.
    • reality-1 is the worse reality that you-1 occupies.
    • reality+1 is the better reality that you+1 occupies.

Organise together

All alter-egos would have some difference in what they do or want but ultimately there is also going to be some similarity, too.

We never encounter each other but tests have shown that if I decide to leave a message to my follower, my predecessor has a good chance to do the same.

A you+/-m (for small enough values of m) would be quite similar. Larger spans might not be as similar. Still, I think chances are good that you'd be able to convince "yourself" from the you+n range to join forces.

So, what do you do? Just leave a note saying "Hello, me, join me after the next jump. Bring as much as you can". Doesn't really matter what he precious resource is - might be gold, silver, or whatever you want to capitalise on. Might even be mixed. The realities are not likely to be too different, so what's useful in this reality will probably be worth it in the next. Now just stock up on whatever resource then make the jump and sit and wait in reality-1.

It's not guaranteed that everybody would follow though but there should be at least a few people. And with infinite other alter-egos, I'd imagine the number might be sizeable - 100 or more. That means that there would be 100 or more times the resource requested. And some like-minded individuals (they did, after all, follow you and the request).

There is now a clone army (or alter-ego army?) that can be used, too. They can go around so "you" might appear to be in several places at once. It shouldn't be too obvious but there can be benefits to having multiple people that look the same and act the same (or close enough for both). The collection of individuals can also use the vast collective resources at your disposal to get more power, influence, and resources. There could be a you that goes to secure new contacts, while another you is acquiring more resources, while another you is using resources to get more power (bribes, buying shares, etc).

There are a lot of options open for somebody who can be at several places and has a lot of money "from thin air". I can't tell you the specifics of how to exactly utilise these resources but...here is the beauty of it - I don't have to. There can be several alter-yous that will be poring over books and studies about finances, management, strategies and everything else that will help your collective goal.

This all relies on having faith in yourself (heh, couldn't help it) in that you have to trust the other alter-egos and each alter-ego has to trust every other one. Given that they would all be coming from reality+n space, which is better, chances are high all of you would cooperate, as they are going to be better people. If there are disagreements, an alter ego is always free to just jump to the next reality. Or...well, they can be made to jump in extreme cases but hopefully you can convince yourself (heh) that's not going to be needed.

I am fairly confident that working together with your alter egos has a high chance of success.

Potential problems

There is only one problem you can encounter. Well, actually several but it's essentially the same thing: nobody comes.

  1. you+1 already enacted this same plan and is now sitting at what is currently reality+1 for you (where you left the note) and is getting the gang together.
    • this has a potentially easy and potentially disastrous solution. Make your stay in that reality very hard. Commit some crime or misbehaviour that will mean you+1 would have to leave. Hopefully it's not too bad, otherwise you+1 wouldn't be able to gather resources before the jump, but still. This can be disastrous if it damages your trust with every you+n, though, so be careful.
  2. you+1+n already enacted this same plan and is now sitting at what is currently reality+1+n for you (at least one above where you left the note) and is getting the gang together.
    • like above but you have no way of influencing it. You might get some alter-egos who for some reason or another left that reality to come to you but it's not guaranteed they would or they would heed the note or that they would stay. In fact, chances are they wouldn't if they didn't stay at the reality "above" that enacted this plan already.
  3. The you+n versions just decided not to jump for a different reason. Perhaps they like it where they are, perhaps it's something else.
    • this sounds bad. It sounds as bad as the above but...it might actually be better. See, with scenario 2. you'd get the stragglers that don't like this plan for some reason. However, with truly independent reasoning and nobody "above" enacting this plan and most importantly infinite versions of yourself, chances are high that somebody would come at some point. The thing with infinity is...that it's big. All versions of you are free to make the jump or not. Even if, say 0.001% of them decide to jump, that's still a lot. Even if another 0.001% of those decide to continue jumping, that's still 0.000001% of infinity. At some point, somebody would eventually arrive. In fact, the "bad scenario 3" is probably going to result in what I described in the main body of the answer.
  4. There is no independent decision making. The only way to get somebody here, requires you to jump. Perhaps you sit and wait and "decide" there is no point waiting...which occurs to every single you of you at the same time.

So, to recap - if nobody comes the winning move is still not to jump. Either nobody would come ever or you'd eventually have some of you+n trickling in.

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Since the alternate-reality versions of yourself are also travelling, do the following:

(1) Take out a gigantic loan and use it to buy gold.

(2) Travel to the next reality down the line.

(3) Repeat steps (1) through (2) until you have enough money to but control of France, plus enough to hire your a literal private army.

Of course, this runs the risk of that your alts will have done the same thing, sticking you with the debt, but its the best option. If you travel to a reality only to discover that one of your alts was using the same tactics, use the goldmine proposal that @codeMonkey made.

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It's pretty simple in my opinion.

  1. All you need is a gun or some other advanced weapon.
  2. Continue travelling realities until the weapons/technology is inferior enough.
  3. Claim yourself as the ruler of some group of people.
  4. If anyone objects shoot (them or something nearby) and then repeat 3.
  5. Congratulations on being the undisputed ruler.
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Transport yourself to a "worse" France, which will elect you as president.

This answer doesn’t use much sci-fi. Apologies if this was a requirement. I don't know whether your story is about how you become dictator, or about what happens once you become dictator.

The following assumes that you’re capable of becoming dictator once you're head of government. It’s been done before, with dictators of the far-left and far-right.

France has a two-stage election process. Anyone who gets 500 supporters can run for president. If no-one wins outright, then the top two candidates go head to head.

Choose a reality where the voters are more inclined to fascism. Maybe France has been under authoritarian governments for a long time, and they have become accustomed to it. Or maybe they had a brief period of democracy, which coincided with hardship and humiliation, and they therefore think of democracy as a bad thing. Or maybe they’ve been a democracy for a while, but things are starting to fall apart either due to the economy failing, or because of crime and terrorism, with decisive leadership being seen as the solution. The worse your reality, the worse the economic situation, crime, and terrorism will be.

First, you need to get a top two result in the first round. To maximise your chances, choose a reality where faith in mainstream parties has been badly eroded, and where the individual candidates have been badly affected by scandals. Also, choose a dysfunctional political scene where there are multiple political parties with similar positions. The more infighting, the better. Also, the more candidates there are, the more likely you are to get top two with a small proportion of the vote. However, make sure that you don't go to a reality that's so much worse that there's lots of far-right candidates that'll be taking up your political position.

To win the second round, try to get an opponent against whom you're likely to get a lot of votes. I have absolutely no idea who you or your daughter are, but if you happen to be a far-right candidate, then running against a left-wing opponent, possibly an incumbent, may give you the best chance, based on these polling figures which show different voting figures depending on who the far-right candidate is running against. That will be because, assuming that people are on a one-dimensional political spectrum from left to right, then people in the center right may decide that they're "closer" to a far-right candidate than a left-wing one.

So choose a slightly worse reality, but not one that's too much worse.

Also, watch out - around the time you returned to France from the war, the Prime Minister of Australia disappeared without his body ever being found. He might have been using the same technology as you.

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Before you make each jump, do something to ensure that none of your replacements will be able to trigger a jump. And/or to give them incentive to not jump.

Otherwise, IF you ever manage to get control of France, you’ll be forced to lose it and start over in a worse world.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you suggesting that he should just keep jumping forward until he lands in a reality where he already rules France? Because otherwise this doesn't answer the question. (Though it does raise some interesting questions about the logic of the premise; see also this comment.) $\endgroup$ – MJ713 Jan 10 at 4:32
  • $\begingroup$ No, he asked about jumping until able to win control of France. Once he does that, I presume he will not want to lose it by jumping again. $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Jan 10 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ Then I'm afraid this does not address the question. The question is "How can I do it?", not "Once I've done it, how can I keep it?". -1. $\endgroup$ – MJ713 Jan 10 at 17:42

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