Background of dictators

There’s been some talk that Donald Trump and Mussolini(or maybe even Hitler) have a lot in common. But that got me to thinking, has there ever been a billionaire who took over a country that way? "The rich"as a class might decide to back the horse they think is winning(and is not socialist), but don’t dictators usually come from the working class or the military? I do know of some fabulously rich individuals who have run countries or states, and the usual result seems to be that they have the arrogance of dictators, but don’t tend to upset the system. I’m thinking Silvio Berlusconi more than anyone else here, he and Trump seem to have more in common than Trump or Mussolini.

So here’s my question: Has there ever been a dictator who came from the very top of the economic elite? Every one I can think of was either working class or military.

Well, obviously you have hereditary dictatorships - we call them absolute monarchies - where the dictators have tended to be not exactly short of sandwiches.

Other than that, no examples of independently wealthy dictators spring to mind. Possibly a factor is that wealth itself secures political power and influence much more effectively than coups, or the careful construction of a political or military career; there is no need for the wealthy to seize power, since they already have it.

Yes, hereditary definitely, but I was thinking more in terms of dictators who rose to power, not those who inherited from other dictators.

Julius Caesar came from a patrician family. Not a particularly influential one, but definitely ruling-class. He was elected consul and appointed dictator, which led to the end of the Roman Republic.

Ah, but he’s military too and that’s where most of his sway over the people stemmed from.

A significant amount of military dictators often happen to be “they guy in charge when the military decided to take over”. Like Everan or Zia. or Obasnjo.

Also, the Eastern Bloc countries of the 20th century made a point of claiming that they had abolished class society, and that the countries were run by and in the interests of the working class. Many people claim that this is nonsense, and that there was a ruling class of nomenklatura which, while it did not outright own the means of production as in more avowedly capitalist countries, nonetheless controlled it to the extent that they could quietly enrich themselves. Under this analysis, some of the post-revolutionary, non-hereditary leaders of these countries may fit your description. Brezhnev was very obviously enamoured of luxury, and if you believe he was a dictator, then he might count. (Many political analysts believe he wasn’t—Kissinger notably reminded Nixon that one-on-one negotiation with Brezhnev was tricky as he would have to have to get major decisions ratified by the CPSU’s collective leadership.)

Similarly the current and up-coming crop of Chinese leaders are members of the very rich. Whose parents got that way by leveraging their Party & state positions.

Yes, but as with the later Soviet leaders, it’s doubtful whether modern Chinese leaders can be considered dictators.

Popes are undeniably autocratic, and many have come from pretty rich families, sometimes being installed through political influence or even force.

Zia orchestrated the coup against Bhutto himself. It’s not like he just happened to be the highest ranking officer left and was persuaded to take the presidency by his subordinates or something.

No. He was advised by his staff officers; I detest the man and his legacy; but the move was that of an institution rather than a man.

I don’t think there is any doubt that he had support of his staff, but he moved staff officers loyal to Bhutto into positions where their influence waned over time, and even sent a bunch of high-ranking officers to a “training course” to keep them out of the way on the night of the coup.

The classical world has an example. Roman Emperors were very much dictators. (The term itself is Roman although dictator in Republican Rome before the Emperors was a temporary appointment made in times of emergency).

Anyway the classic example is Didius Julianus, one of the richest men in Rome, who actually purchased the Imperiate when the Praetorian Guard auctioned it after the assassination of Pertinax in AD 193. He lasted all of 9 weeks!

I don’t think they were staff officers loyal to Bhutto at all, except in the fantasies of Bhutto family die hard supporters. Their loyalty was always to the institution. Zia himself was supposed to be Bhutto’s man; he has been promoted out of turn, over the heads of 6 senior officers. Did not help him much.

The coup was not unexpected either, the preceding months had seen the opposition openly calling for it.

Fidel Castro was the bastard son of a very wealthy sugarcane plantation owner in Cuba. Not sure if that counts or not…

Well, for these purposes I think “loyal to Bhutto” and “loyal to the civilian government” are essentially synonymous. Wikipedia says this about Bhutto/civilian government supporters, which is consistent with what I’ve read elsewhere (certainly as to Khan):

Well wiki is pretty dead wrong here it seems.:dubious:
Tajammul had been arrested because he had tried to mutiny several months earlier and he was an early Islamist, not someone who would support a socialist like Bhutto. General Babur had retired three years earlier, before Zia’s appointment, he was no, Admiral Ahsan had retired in 1971 and Air Marshal Khan remained Commander of the PAF (as that was then called) for more than a year after Zia took over, retiring at the end of his tenure.

I cant really see this as a valid cite.

Huh. Apparently so - you should fix that article!