So you want to take over the world? Jolly good for you. You're demonstrating the kind of spunk that's all too rare in this great land of opportunity. In a world gone soft from me-too conformity and smothering congeniality, you're showing us all what can be done with a little bit of grit and gumption.

But first things first: If you're going to take over the world, you've got to have a good, solid plan—that's what separates the would-bes and the also-rans from the real Merciless Cruel Overlords. I'm sure you've seen those movies where James Bond foils the villainous master criminal (boo!) and saves the world. But wait. How is it possible that the villainous master criminals, who have private armies, secret underground strongholds, stolen A-bombs, and space-based death lasers, are unfailingly bested by a self-described "Scottish peasant" with a drinking problem. Hey, what the heck is going on here—and more importantly, what's to be learned from this sad, grotesque spectacle?

The problem with many of the Bond film fiends is that they're not really serious about world domination. Oh, they talk a good game and act all monomaniacal and keep pet sharks, but in truth they're paper tigers—only tacky little money-grubbers, no better than some toupee-wearing junk-bond trader. They steal NATO warheads only to sell them back at a profit. (How about this: free nerve gas if we forget to give you a receipt.) They call it high-stakes blackmail. I call it selling out. These bald little weenies act all top-lofty, but their schemes are no more menacing than a churchyard rummage sale. Instead of Mao-style tunics, they should be wearing green eyeshades and sleeve protectors. Wake up and smell the cyanide, my friends: if you want to control the world, you're going to have to break a few eggs.

Oh, I'm not saying you have to go to the other extreme and release a killer virus to eradicate mankind or provoke a civilization-ending nuclear exchange. (You may aspire to absolute dominion over a lifeless, radioactive void, but that's just not me—and, hey, some of us have to live here.) No, to me, it's people that are important. Any world domination scheme that doesn't involve the degradation and subjugation of billions of human beings is just not something I'd want to be involved in. It's all about people—or sniveling, pitiful zombie slaves, as I prefer to think of them. It's silly to waste a perfectly good planet when you could have 6 billion vassals at your beck and call.

On that score, the lazy, overpaid screenwriters responsible for the Bond movies fail miserably. Oh, I'll grant you, breaking into Fort Knox and hijacking spacecraft are good for a couple of giggles, but why not the wholesale enslavement of mankind? On this, they are preposterously mute, and that's why the 007 adventures are in a creative rut. It's just the same old recycled plots, over and over. We need some new ideas for the aspiring global tyrant. (Are you listening, MGM/UA?)

You may think that in this high-techno, cyberspace-age wired Web world in which we live, there are plenty of ways to use the Internet to achieve global rule. Sorry, my friend, I don't think so. If you were some sort of superhacker who could simultaneously seize control of every military command system in the world (cf. Colossus: The Forbin Project), that might earn you some serious leverage with the rest of humanity, as in: "One more word about [insert witty, timely reference here] and I launch the missiles." If you are such a superhacker, or know someone who is, please get in touch with me immediately: my laptop is totally zonked from a botched install of Windows 95.

In preparing this piece, I investigated a wide range of potential technologies for world domination [see chart]: mind-bending psycho-pharmacological compounds, devastating computer viruses, manipulative psychic phenomena, microscopic self-replicated nanobots, and ruinous "gray goo." But the unfortunate fact is that nothing available within the foreseeable future offers a sufficient mix of effectiveness, practicality, and utter ruthlessness. I call them disco-ball technologies—glittery on the outside, hollow on the inside: the kind of stuff that will be in Sharper Image catalogs in ten years. Oh, they might be fine if you just want to usher in a new Dark Ages of ignorance and suffering, but as far as I'm concerned, they're not real tools for power.

I was somewhat hopeful about the possibilities for nano-technology. Imagine: microscopic little mechanisms that could enter victims' brains, throw the right neural switches and—presto change-o—perfect, fully functioning slaves! I love it, but the technology is decades away, and a megalomaniac is nothing if not impatient.

At first, psychopharmacology also seemed promising. Altering minds with drugs? That doesn't seem so far-fetched. Although I'd heard that the Soviets had a drug that could turn ordinary soldiers into single-minded fighting machines unable to resist even the most suicidal orders, a psychiatrist friend told me there's no drug that will make a person do something they would never consider doing in an undrugged state, like throw one's self in front of a train or listen to the Cure.

My investigation led me to the conclusion that the best way to conquer the world is the old-fashioned way—with a giant army. Alexander, Napoleon, Queen Victoria, Hitler, Stalin, Mao—now those were folks who made the dream come alive. Maybe not for keeps, and not the whole world, but as Chicago Cubs fans say: Wait till next year.

But don't give up hope yet, Little Blofeld. There is one method they may yet pave the way to total global dominance. That same psychiatrist friend says there is a relatively simple way to control minds on a massive scale: He calls it television.   </end>

James Bond will return in his next thrilling adventure, "Arbitron!"

Andrew Cohen lives in a hollowed-out volcano in Hoboken, New Jersey.


Stalin © Archive Photos, Picture Network, Ltd., Napoleon painted by Ernest Crofts R.A. © Christie's Images, Picture Network, Ltd., Sean Connery as James Bond © MacGregor, Picture Network, Ltd., Roger Moore as James Bond © Fotos International, Picture Network, Ltd.