Of all forms of governance in the contemporary world, dictatorship is one that is the least understood. Associated with doom and injustice, the term has lost its real meaning over the years.
Dictatorship can be defined as a form of government under which a group of countries (or a Country) is ruled by a single person or political party. Most of the times, the dictator assumes the role of a ruler exercises power through force in order to ensure that their authority remains dominant. However, there are some exceptions to this. Some countries might choose a dictatorship and the dictator might be able to garner the consent of the public. Currently, there are 50 dictatorships in the world ? 21 in Africa, 19 in Asia, 8 in the Middle East, 1 in Europe and 1 in the Caribbean.
Dictatorship ? a relatively foreign concept in the modern world ? has seen periods of rise and fall throughout history. The main cause for the rise of dictatorship was perhaps the discomfort at the thought of a sudden shift from a monarchy to a democracy, or a desperate attempt at redeeming one?s country from the disappointments of the status quo. For instance, if the citizens of a country are unfamiliar with the concept of democracy, a change from monarchy to democracy would seem a rather radical one; Dictatorship might end up winning the popular consent. The inability of a democracy to function ideally also plays a major role in swaying the public opinion in favour of a change. Another reason for the rise of dictatorship was the world wars where, in order for a country to go to war without the consent of its citizens, executives took over the government as the parliaments were pushed back from their decision-making duties.
As noted earlier, dictatorship in the modern world is limited to few countries. It has acquired mostly negative connotations wherever it does exist. One dictator that serves as a manifestation of these connotations is Kim Jong Un.
Kim Jong Un is the Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly referred to as North Korea. Kim is the third and youngest son of Kim Jong-il. He is the most unsought dictator in the current decade. His practices include indulging in extreme gluttony, as he keeps a tight rein on the rations and brains of the citizens of North Korea. The citizens are continually deceived through a series of lies and unapologetic propaganda which is reminiscent of USSR and Joseph Stalin’s rule in 1929. The infrastructure in North Korea is believed to be deplorable ? An estimate of only 724 kilometres of the 25,554-kilometres road network is paved, and there is a lack of water and electricity. Poverty is the state of things.
Throughout history, dictatorship has been associated with extreme violation of human rights, the spread of xenophobia and mass genocide. Joseph Stalin caused the greatest manmade famine in the world, Adolf Hitler killed 11 Million people, Saddam Hussein tortured his own countrymen. George Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm tells us power corrupts all but is this the reason for detestation of dictatorship? No.
If one looks deeper like Katherine A. DeCelles ? a professor of management at the University of Toronto who did a study on individuals with power ? one will find that it’s not power that corrupts a person but a person’s intentions. In her research that was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Katherine demonstrates how the moral identity of a person influences his or her actions when bestowed upon with power. It concludes that a person who is corrupted by power can as well be corrupted by anything else. One can, after reading the results of the study, conclude that it is not power that corrupts and it is not power that makes a dictator bad.
Unfortunately, dictatorship over the years has been clubbed with being disadvantageous to people due to its negative effects. The world hasn’t given us many examples of dictatorship done right, as having a clean moral identity is no small feat for a human. However, there exist some who have turned the tables and have proven to work for the betterment of the public. One such dictator was António de Oliveira Salazar who has since been credited with redeeming the reputation of dictatorships.
Salazar has been known to be one of the most humblest dictators in the history of mankind. Salazar served thirty-six years as Portugal’s Prime Minister after World War I. Salazar also prevented the inclusion of Portugal in World War II. During Salazar’s rule, Portugal prospered. He was able to raise gold prices in Portugal so as to keep them at par with Switzerland. One major differentiating factor between Salazar and other dictators is that he neither lived a life in affluence nor did he ever resort to violence of any kind.
Dictatorship, like any other form of government, is neither inherently good nor presumably bad. The onus thus lies upon the dictator to work in favour of the people and their country in order for the nation to prosper.
-Contributed by Akanksha
Picture Credits: reference.com