Okay, imagine I'm your average megalomaniacal evil overlord. After a brief but spirited scuffle with local heroes, I've managed to employ an army of coal-fed death robots to seize control of the Earth, which now belongs to me. Instead of solving all my problems as I thought it would, this has surprisingly opened up some new ones for me. Specifically, how to maintain the darn thing! See, all the Earth's inhabitants are now my possessions, and I am known to jealously guard my possessions. So obliterating them is a non-starter.

Clearly the social pyramid will look flattish from a distance, because of the ginormous space-elevator-sized spike corresponding to me. That's not a problem. The problem is how to fulfil my basic requirements:

  1. There has to be some amount of suffering; the groans of my people are as music to my heart

  2. I don't want to push it too hard, because it can be so very tedious putting down rebellions

  3. There must be a picture of ME prominently displayed in every public building

  4. And every private one, too

  5. While the world's workforce must be available to fulfill my outlandish whims, most of the time I don't want to be bothered with routine administration. As a typical example, I may require that Mount Rushmore be recarved into four copies of my face

  6. I must be careful at all times that no subordinate becomes powerful enough to threaten me

  7. There needs to be a constant low-key search for the destined bride of a foretold hero ... I'm getting rather tired of being a bachelor. If this one is too difficult, I could settle for falling in love with my chief henchman's daughter

So ... how can I (at gunpoint) reorganize society to fulfill these reasonable basic needs?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Many people have tried to reorganize society at gunpoint to fulfill their idea of reasonable basic needs. I'm pretty sure all attempts have failed. Furthermore even when you can get people to agree on what the reasonable basic needs are people will always disagree on the implementation details. This question is far too opinion based to be answerable. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Aug 30, 2017 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ You don't really need to reorganize much. Just make every government report to you (you must have such power). If your whims are not too outlandish, people will go with their lives just as before. And many are suffering already, so here is your #1. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Aug 30, 2017 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ A picture of YOU... a picture... Turkmenistan's (former) president Saparmurat Niyazov ordered a 75-meters-tall arch topped by a 12-meters-tall gold-plated statue of himself mounted on a mechanism which made it turn to follow the sun! (Picture.) Will you be outdone by a Turkmen? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 30, 2017 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ Dear @AlexP ... Niyazov was an arriviste. MY monuments are such that the sun revolves around THEM! $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Aug 30, 2017 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ This is too opinion based, and to my eyes an incoherent question to boot. At gunpoint? Start pulling the trigger for disobedience. There are 7 billion people on Earth, a tenth of a percent is 7 million: long before your henchmen kill 7 million, your rules will be followed. Implement the rules of North Korea, or Hitler, or Genghis Khan, or Saddam Hussein. Incoherent: You won't fall in love; your actions are psychopathic and make that impossible. Do like Saddam's sons: Take beautiful women, rape them for a year or so, then kill them for fun. It is in your [character's] nature. Vote to close. $\endgroup$
    – Amadeus
    Aug 31, 2017 at 10:45

1 Answer 1


The Roman Way

The nature of your takeover (killer robots and all that) make it difficult to rule with anything but coercion. If you say that it was all a misunderstanding, that you love them all, it will be seen as weakness.

  • Use the local nobility, err, governments to collect your taxes. In return, your Legions of Doom handle large-scale rebellion. The locals run local affairs and suppress petty brigands and demonstrators.
  • The local government members are personally responsible for taxes, law, and order. They must make up any shortfall out of their own pockets. This will generate the required suffering, as the government officials have strong incentives to avoid shortfalls.
  • Otherwise they can keep local customs.
  • Being a member of your henchmen gives tangible benefits, like the ability to appeal any legal proceedings to your court. Civis romanus sum.
  • Regarding that picture, don't make the mistake the Roman emperors did when they demanded worship from Christians. It is strictly secular.

What you do with this power might be different from a Roman Emperor.

  • Having collected those taxes, it would be economically unwise to just amass a hoard of gold. So spend that money to hire workers for your whims. First you take the money from all, then you give most of it back to some humans.
  • Make it known that your bride-to-be's tribe will get very lenient tax assessments, and wait for a pretty girl who is not just interested in putting a dagger into your ribs.

The control of the money flow will be the key factor of your rule. Everybody pays lots of taxes, everybody is afraid of unfair, unexpected demands from the tax office, and most get enough money back to make ends meet by working on your projects.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note to particularly naive readers: This is the comic book Roman way, not to be confused with the actual Roman way of organizing provinces. But the comic book Roman way works well in comics, so +1. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 30, 2017 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ Dear @AlexP ... nobody would believe the actual Roman practices. ;D Outsourcing tax collection to private businesses, the bizarre striations of who is/isn't/kinda-is a citizen and how local and citizen laws interact... And the best is succession law. In the Eastern empire, since the Emperor was viceregent of Christ, attempted usurpation was gravest sin. But successful usurpation was clearly God's will... $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Aug 30, 2017 at 23:47

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