Tsars? Look what happened to the last one...

Opinion by nikb

So we now have a "Twitter Tsar" apparently (news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8205081.stm). Quite why we need one is an open question, but what bothers me more...

So we now have a "Twitter Tsar" apparently (news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8205081.stm). Quite why we need one is an open question, but what bothers me more is the incessant trend of declaring "Tsars" (or "Czars" in some cases) for pretty much everything.

I'm not sure where it started, probably a drugs tsar or something like that; I suspect the security industry has been a late arrival to this particular bandwagon. But it's got to rank as one of the dumbest and most tasteless terminology trends.

Why, you might ask. Well, would you be happy with a Facebook Fuhrer? I suspect not, but a quick review of the history of the tsars shows them to be every bit as offensive as Hitler. Ivan the Terrible, for example, started off at 13 having an errant advisor ripped apart by hounds; he later graduated to destroying tens of thousands in towns that offended him and killing his son after a row. Even the relatively recent Nicholas II (no relation) was prone to massacring anyone who disagreed with him and promoted numerous pogroms against Russian Jews.

Now, with that sort of history, is it really a sensible title for a civil servant? Answers on a postcard...

On a more technically relevant note however, I worry about the idea that all we really need to do is stick someone in charge to sort out a particular problem. In fact in many cases it makes matters worse, as it can lead to dissenting views (often the best ideas) being suppressed to make way for the tsarist policy.

So please, no more tsars (no evangelists either please). If you must put someone in charge, call them an advocate, or something neutral with less historical baggage.

If you're still in any doubt, just check out what happened to the last Tsar...

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