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The 5 Most Shockingly Insane Modern Dictators

As part of our ongoing effort to educate the world about the mind-boggling insanity of the world's dictators, here are five leaders who treated their countries as playthings for their own deranged minds.

#5.
Ne Win -- Head of State of Burma

Ne Win was the head of state of Burma from 1962 to 1981, and we're going to get this out of the way right now: He reportedly bathed in dolphin blood. He believed it restored his youth and vitality.


They're like a floating Club Med.

In general, Ne Win was superstitious to the point of insanity. He would cross bridges backwards, because he believed it would ward off evil. He consulted soothsayers on almost every aspect of his decision making, and they were crazier than he was. For instance, concerned that his regime was leaning too far left (being communist and all), Ne Win asked his soothsayers what he should do. They told him to change the entire country's roadways from left-lane driving to right. You know, to counter the leftness.

So, the next day, Ne Win promptly proclaimed that everybody had been driving on the wrong side of the road. Never mind that all the vehicles and intersections in Burma were designed with left-side driving in mind. The soothsayers know best!


Something tells us this man has cloves of garlic hanging from his dong.

The soothsayers also told Ne Win that nine was his lucky number, so from then on, he'd make new policies on days that had something to do with nine. Then he announced that he was going to change the currency into denominations of 15, 30, 45 and 90, so that he could live to be over 90 years old.

That may seem like a minor inconvenience until you realize he also decreed that the older, "unlucky" denominations would cease to be legal tender. Considering the fact that most Burmese hid their cash in biscuit tins, the entire country lost their savings overnight.


But hey! Look how colorful their buildings are.

What happened to him?

The denomination-changing dick move happened to be Ne Win's last. Everybody was so pissed off that the entire country completely flipped out. To calm the raging hordes demanding his blood, Ne Win had no choice but to step down, handing the reins to a guy called San Yu.

In his farewell speech, Ne Win bitterly warned the protesters that they were seriously not cool. In 2002, Ne Win's son-in-law launched a failed coup that was supposedly orchestrated by Ne Win. As a result, Ne Win was placed under house arrest, where he would die later that year. He had the last laugh, however, as true to his soothsayers' word, he lived to be 91. Holy shit, that means the dolphin blood thing is also true!


We've got this friend who says their tears can cure erectile dysfunction. He'll sell you a half liter for $50.

#4.
Enver Hoxha -- Leader of Albania

Enver Hoxha became prime minister of Albania in 1944, but Hoxha wasn't satisfied with just that insignificant post. So he took all the Cabinet jobs for himself, calling himself "Comrade-Chairman-Prime Minister-Foreign-Minister-Minister of War-Commander-in-Chief of the People's Army Enver Hoxha."

Hoxha forbade the ownership of color televisions and typewriters all the way until the 1980s, because they were a distraction from the true Albanian way of life, which was, of course, communism. The color television part wasn't that bad -- they became prevalent only in the 60s -- but godammit, the typewriter was invented in 1870. Then, he banned beards. You know, because they're incompatible with communism.

Like a lot of dictators, Hoxha would use doubles, as he feared assassination. But far be it from him to simply ask for volunteers. Hoxha kidnapped a dentist in rural Albania who looked sort of like him, then forced plastic surgery on him to make the resemblance even more uncanny. The poor guy had no choice in the matter; he had to leave his life behind and live on pretending to be the prime minister in hopes he would get shot (after the collapse of Hoxha's regime, that man vanished -- there is a book about his story).

More than he was afraid of assassination, Hoxha feared a Soviet invasion. Lots of people feared that back in those days, but Hoxha dealt with the threat in his own uniquely crazy way: He built 750,000 random bunkers all over the country. On one hand, Albania was a country of only 3 million, so this seems like overkill. But then you realize each bunker was only big enough to hold one person.

Image by Marc Morell
We're pretty sure you could fit at least a dozen college students in there.

What happened to him?

Totally nothing. Hoxha stayed in power until the day he died. Toward the end, he faded from public view and wrote over 60 books on how he was awesome and everything he did was right. He left behind a shattered Albania that was the poorest country in Europe.


You'd think a totalitarian dictator could track down a barber with better comb-over skills.

Those bunkers that he built were also surprisingly indestructible and stand till this day, reminding everybody that though Hoxha is dead, the remnants of his dickishness will continue to live on.

#3.
Nicolae Ceausescu -- First Secretary of the Communist Party of Romania

Nicolae Ceausescu attained power in 1965 by becoming the first secretary of the Communist Party of Romania after the death of his predecessor. Given that he was the leader of a late-bloomer communist country, you wouldn't think he'd have huge delusions of grandeur. You'd be wrong.

Via Romainian Communism Online Photo Collection
He was voted "Most likely to become a narcissistic dictator" in high school.

He called himself "Geniul din Carpati" ("The Genius of the Carpathians"). He even made a scepter for himself, prompting Salvador Dali to personally send a telegram to him making fun of said scepter. Of course, the deluded Ceausescu had no concept of satire and had Dali's letter published on the front page of the newspaper.

In 1980, Genius Ceausescu wanted a palace to further cement his godlike status. He planned it smack in the middle of the most historical part of town, and it required the destruction of 19 churches, six synagogues and 30,000 homes. Lauded as the biggest building in the world after the Pentagon, the project was ambitious to the point of stupidity. It cost Romania $10 billion and required a team of 700 architects. Or, put it this way: After his death, the palace was used as Romania's Parliament house ... and the entire Parliament is still only able to make use of 30 percent of the space.


They're able to hold some wild games of wall ball, though.

The thing is, the West was friendly to Ceausescu because he was so crazy that even other communists hated him. The British even knighted him, and France granted him its Legion of Honor.

Via Romainian Communism Online Photo Collection
Here Ceausescu isn't the creepiest person in the picture.

Via Romainian Communism Online Photo Collection
And here he's ... tied.

This only fed his mad delusions (really not such a good idea to bestow knighthood on a dictator version of Charlie Sheen), so he demanded that his nearly illiterate wife, Elena, be made a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and the Royal Institute of Chemistry. Back home, she was crowned "Comrade-Academician-Doctor-Engineer," and top scientists had to include her name in their research. He also proclaimed Nicu, his alcoholic, womanizing son, to be a "scientist of international reputation" and alleged that he had published several volumes on nuclear physics, proving to Romania once and for all that studying hard will get you nowhere.

What happened to him?

Ceausescu's utter obliviousness to the world in general also led him to be oblivious to how much his people hated him. In 1989, the entire country flipped out in an uprising. Ceausescu tried to calm the crowds with one of his many stammering speeches, but it only made the them angrier. Halfway through the speech, people started shouting and throwing things.


"You'd better run."

Ceausescu was captured days later, and in a hasty show trial, Ceausescu and his wife were taken outside and shot. And just to add insult to injury, the queen revoked his knighthood.

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