The dictators of the 20th century — Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong — were all products of a personality cult designed to depict them as the leader and savior of their countries. Hitler took the title of "Der Fuehrer" and Mussolini "Il Duce" — both mean "leader." Despite the horrific legacies of these ruthless and criminal despots, the personality cult with its emphasis on leadership shows no sign of declining in the 21st century.

President Xi Jinping of China has not yet achieved the pre-eminence in China that Mao enjoyed, but seems determined to ensure unchallenged dominance of the Chinese Communist Party, and through the party of China in its aspiration to superpower status.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia harasses and tries to destroy all who oppose his corrupt and chauvinist regime. He surrounds himself with sycophants and cronies who encourage him to pursue policies in Eastern Europe and in Syria that are designed to boost Russian influence and distract the Russian people from their economic problems.