Jon Lee Anderson, assigned by the New Yorker to write up Qadaffi's final days, begins with a review of the ignominious ends of a number of modern despots, giving us at the same time a generic overview of how these things usually finish -- badly.
How does it end? The dictator dies, shrivelled and demented, in his bed; he flees the rebels in a private plane; he is caught hiding in a mountain outpost, a drainage pipe, a spider hole. He is tried. He is not tried. He is dragged, bloody and dazed, through the streets, then executed. The humbling comes in myriad forms, but what is revealed is always the same: the technologies of paranoia, the stories of slaughter and fear, the vaults, the national economies employed as personal property, the crazy pets, the prostitutes, the golden fixtures.
The situation is a little different in the US than it was in Libya or Iraq under Saddam. The tyranny here is wielded by an oligarchy who have seized control of the finance "industry" rather than a single strongman, and there are no mass graves full of nameless victims, although millions of anonymous lives have been permanently wrecked by our own home-grown despots.
Now that a clear majority of US citizens has awakened to the true state of affairs, the eventual fall of the banksters is assured. And when they've fallen, what will be their fate? At the very least their palaces and mansions will be opened to public scrutiny and the vain treasures inside exposed to view -- in Jon Lee Anderson's words, "the national economies employed as personal property, the crazy pets, the prostitutes, the golden fixtures."
As for the oligarchs themselves, who cares what happens to them?