Conclusions from Gorton Tullock's book Autocracy, p. 211-215.

The propositions below are not strictly speaking, testable hypotheses.  They are proposals for empirical research suggested by a new approach and detailed reasoning of this book.  Nevertheless, the research would not only improve our knowledge of what is the commonest form of government today, but also in this case, offer evidence as to whether the general approach in this book, and tile detailed reasoning is correct.  Once again, I hope that this book is the beginning of research in autocratic government, it does not purport to be the last word.


1. Most dictators (who are overthrown are overthrown by higher officials of their own regime rather than by popular uprisings. (Line 692)

2. Change of dictator by coup normally makes relatively modest changes in policy. (Line 712)

3. Genuine popular uprisings are rare. (Line 750)

4. Dictators do not have strong attachments to most specific policies.  This can be tested by looking at those dictators who have been involved for long periods of time and observing how often they have stuck to the policies they start with when it is politically unwise to do so. (Line 850)


1 . Dictators and other autocrats are fundamentally insecure.  This has not really been tested, but ill would be very useful to develop a table showing frequency with which different dictators hold power.  For hereditary monarchs, a similar table showing how long specific dynasties have held power would be helpful. (Line 20)

2. It should be possible through careful study, to get some qualitative idea of the average intelligence of a random sample of hereditary rulers and of dictators, Kings should be, if this book is correct, less intelligent than that dictators who have risen to power on their own (Line 90)

3. People and organizations who save dictators from removal tend to be given material rewards, but reductions in power as a result. (Line 717)

There have been fairly few testable hypotheses proposed in connection with this chapter.  The reason is not that I think in the eye of God there might not be such hypotheses, but that the data on what goes on in the immediate circle around a dictator are exceptionally bad.  Everyone is strongly motivated to keep his own acts secret, and most of them are reasonably successful.


1. Military success by an army is likely to lead the heads of  the army to attempt to overthrow the existing ruler. (Line 185)

2. There is a positive correlation between the strength of military force any country maintained,, and the probability that the dictators would be overthrown, by it. (Line 182)

3. There is a negative correlation between the strength the military forces maintain by any dictatorship and the probability that he will be overthrown by foreigners. (Line 182)

4. Armies that rotate officers and units are less likely to overthrown the government than armies that do not. (Line 691)

5 . Armies and Navy's with committees as their supreme commanders are less likely to overthrow dictators. (Line 792)


1 . It is a thesis of this chapter, that what appears to be a popular uprising is normally a split within the government, with possible, the more popular of the two groups winning.  Genuine popular risings are rare this is readily testable by counting. (Line 720).

2. The number of people actually involved in the overthrow, of a government is normally quite small.  Certainly much less than the majority of the population and probably much less than two or three percent. (Line 770)

3 . Secret conspiracies among anyone except high officials of the government have rarely been successful in overthrowing a government. (Line 780)

4. Governments in which the level of corruption is high are far more likely to use torture as a method of detecting subversion than a relatively honest government. (Line 800)


1. Foreign armies of occupation are rarely driven out by popular uprisings.


1. Most dictators who succeed in retiring are very well off, but not immensely wealthy.

2. The lack of firm policy preferences on the part of dictators can most readily be tested by observing the policy of those dictators who have remained in office for long periods of time.  If they had strong personal preferences for policy, then the policies would tend to remain stable throughout the period. (Line 400)

3. The average change of dictator leads to relatively modest changes in policy.  Most are no larger than those which occur when republican replaces democrat in the presidency.


1.  Dictators who are not overthrown have a strong tendency to remain in power until they die rather than retiring.  This is true even if they're seriously ill.  (line 20)

2. Less commonly, a coup will be carried out  by someone who rose to high rank in the government and then for one reason or another, left the country and organized opposition from outside.

3 . Most dictators do not have a formal successor appointed while they are in office. (Line 450)

4. Carefully worked out plots among high officials to overthrow the dictator are rare. (Line 585)

5. Juntas normally condense to control by one man. (Line 8 I 0)


1 . Dictators who are not overthrown have a strong tendency to remain in power until they die rather  than retiring.  This is true even if they're seriously ill. (Line 20)

2. When  a dictator does have a formal successor appointed, he is very likely to remove the successor because he suspects him.  The test here would be whether formal successors to to dictators tend to  remain in office  (when there  is one) for only short periods. (Line 70)

3. Hereditary monarchies tend to be domestically more peaceful than other forms of autocracy.  Note this is only true when the rules of inheritance specify some individual person.

4. Counting the number of political murders by a son or other successor of a king is extremely difficult because of the facilities which such a man has to conceal his crime.  Careful historical research should however, produce reasonably good figures here, and my hypothesis that this would turn out to be a very common cause of death, probably the commonest, could thus be tested.

5. My prediction that current dictatorships will eventually become hereditary is theoretically testable, but unfortunately requires waiting at least one hundred years.

6. Coups which overthrow democratic governments tend to originate in the executive rather than the legislative or judicial branches. (Line 1320)

7.  Military forces are more likely to overthrow democracy by a coup than other members of the executive branch, this preponderance is no greater than the personnel preponderance is no greater than the military characteristically has over other parts of the executive branch. (Line 1330)

8. Limited autocracies tend to be considerably above average efficiency. (Line 1650)


1 . Whether democracy is really associated with the military predominance of drafted infantry is easily testable by statistical regression analysis.

2. The Aristotelian theory of the rise and fall of democracies, tyrannies, and oligarchies could be fairly easily tested by simple counting the number of cases in which such changes went in the right direction.  The problem would be making certain treat various governments met Aristotle's rather vague definitions of these three forms.