When one hears the word dictator, they generally think of a ruthless leader who rules with an iron fist and oppresses the people he leads. Some famous dictators in history are Adolph Hitler, a German politician and leader of the Nazi party; Joseph Stalin, a Soviet Union dictator; and Pol Pot, a Cambodian revolutionary and politician. So with people such as these who have been responsible for mass genocide in the country they ruled, it’s hard to imagine there are many pros to living under a dictatorship. What are the pros and cons of dictatorship?
People who are for dictatorship say it provides for a more stable government, helps abolish corruption, and is more efficient in emergencies. Those against dictatorship say personal rights are severely restricted, the system is generally based on force and violence, and it demands complete obedience. There’s no room for opposition or disagreement. Let’s delve further into the pros and cons of dictatorship.
What Are the Pros of Dictatorship?
In a dictatorship, the power is centralized, usually with a single person or single group of people. The people have no vote in how things are run in their country, and they have to obey directives no matter what. Yet there are still pros to living under a dictatorship.
Stability of Government
When governments have just one person who leads and makes all the decisions, there is no room for delays or need for agreements. One person is responsible for making all the decisions and cannot be countered. Also, there will not be a change in leadership, as there is with a democratic government, because there is no transfer of power. There have been over a dozen world leaders who have been in charge of their government for more than 25 years.
Crime Levels Generally Decrease
Dictatorship governments are usually police states. They have strict laws and swift, harsh punishments that, once known, typically deter an abundance of criminal activity.
Government Resources Are Immediately Directed Where Needed
Because there is only one person ruling, it is much easier for the government to respond to situations that need allocated resources, such as natural disasters or an incident of terrorism. Even if there are other governmental branches in the system, the final authority is in the hands of the dictator in charge.
Faster and More Successful Development
With a dictatorial government, they aren’t concerned about pleasing people and keeping them happy. They have one focus, and that’s the development of their nation, and with one person in charge of making decisions, there are no other obstacles that would slow down progress.
What Are the Cons of Dictatorship?
Too much power for just one person or group of people
One person with total control generally leads to abuse of power. A dictator’s decisions impact many people, and the citizens under the dictator’s rule have no say.
A benefit of having a democratic government is accountability. Different branches of government monitor the other. In a dictatorship, there are no checks and balances.
The People Have No Personal Rights
The people generally have no freedom of speech, religion, or the ability to choose one way of thought over the other. The people are oppressed as a way to keep the dictator in power.
Dictators Tend to Rule With Fear
Unfortunately, dictators don’t have a history of having the people’s best interests at heart. Therefore, rules can be harsh if the people try to oppose their actions. Dictators focus more on their political ambitions and global power. As a result, millions and millions of people are mass-murdered under dictatorships, such as what happened with Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.
Isolation From Other Leaders
A dictatorship form of government tends to isolate the country from other leaders. Usually, the rest of the democratic world does not tolerate dictatorship, so their only allies tend to be other countries governed by a dictatorship.
There Is a Lack of Opposition
If any opposing party rises to the surface, they are generally extinguished right away, swiftly and harshly. And in many dictatorship countries, any form of opposition is criminally outlawed.
There Is Usually No Say in a Change in Power
For the most part, a current leader can remain in power indefinitely. And in some countries where there are elections, they are usually rigged.
Dictatorships Are Usually Run by Military Juntas
Military juntas are governments led by a committee of military leaders. When a military leader takes power, he will remain in power until he wishes to leave, retire, or die. Then the next leader in line will take over, ruling the nation in the same brutal way that the first dictator did. The citizens are left to either submit to this type of rule or pay the price of imprisonment or death.
Laws Are Ever-Changing Based on the Whims of the Dictator
Though laws in a democracy are usually for the good of the people, a dictator will usually change laws to punish political opponents. And they can make the new laws retroactive, which would mean that they can apply the new law to incidents that occurred in the past.
Four Dictators in History Known for Doing Good
Surprisingly there have been some dictators who have turned out to be nice.
- Indian Emporer Ashoka. He ruled the Mauryan Kingdom from 286 to 232 BCE. At first, he was said to be very cruel, even building a torture chamber. But after the Kalinga War in 260 BCE, he underwent a transformation. He is said to be the first ruler who abolished slavery, the death penalty, and cruelty to animals.
- Kemal Pasha. President of Turkey from 1922 to 1938, Pasha was almost single-handedly responsible for modernizing and secularizing Turkey. He gave women equal rights –– giving them universal voting rights –– abolished polygamy, and gave them equal inheritance rights. He also banned Sharia Law, separating religion from governance.
- Josep Broz Tito. He unified Yugoslavia by merging six different countries, which he ruled from 1945 until he died in 1980. He is most known for fighting the Nazi occupation. His success lies in making Yugoslavia a liberal communist country by breaking off from the USSR. He allowed all countries to have equal representation of government and the right to use their own language.
- Paul Kagame. He has been head of Rwanda since 1994, when, as commander of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, he stopped the genocide. Kagame cultivated ethnic equality by removing the mention of ethnicity in people’s identity cards and included an article in the constitution preventing discrimination of any kind. In 2008 he mandated health insurance for everyone, and as of 2010, more than 90% of the people were insured. He also encouraged gender equality and literacy.
Four Dictators Known for Being Ruthless
- Mao Zedong. Commander of the Chinese State, Chairman Mao was leader from 1943 to 1976. His policies led to the worst famine in history, resulting in the deaths of between 20 million and 40 million people. He was also responsible for an additional 20 million deaths through prison labor and mass executions.
- Adolf Hitler. Dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945, Hitler initiated World War II by invading Poland. He was responsible for killing more than six million Jews during the Holocaust in Europe. His Nazi regime was responsible for killing an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war.
- Pol Pot. Leader of the Khmer Rouge from 1963 to 1979, Pol Pot took control of Cambodia in 1975. He desired to create an agrarian socialist society by forcibly relocating urban populations to rural collective farms and killing enemies of the regime. Mass executions and malnutrition led to the deaths of around two million people.
- Saddam Hussein. President of Iraq from 1979 to 2003, Hussein is known to have deported 8,000 men from the Kurdish Barzani tribe and depopulated Kurdish regions through starvation, killing 182,000 people. He also used chemical weapons on the Kurdish village, killing 5,000. More than 200 mass graves were discovered in Iraq, suggesting that Hussein’s regime killed tens of thousands of people.
What Countries are Presently Dictatorship Countries?
As of 2022 these countries are dictatorship countries.
|Afghanistan||Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai|
|Bahrain||King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa|
|Central African Republic||Faustin Archange Touadera|
|Djibouti||Ismail Omar Guelleh|
|DR Congo||Joseph Kabila|
|Egypt||Abdel Fattah al-Sisi|
|Equatorial Guinea||Obiang Nguema Mbasogo|
|Nicaragua||Daniel Ortega Saavedra|
|North Korea||Kim Jong-un|
|Oman||Qaboos bin Said Al-Said|
|Qatar||Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani|
|Republic of the Congo||Denis Sassou Nguesso|
|Saudi Arabia||Fahd bin Abdul Aziz|
|Somalia||Hassan Sheikh Mohamud|
|South Sudan||Salva Kiir Mayardit|
|Sudan||Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan|
|Turkey||Recep Tayyip Erdoğan|
|Uganda||Yoweri Kaguta Museveni|
|United Arab Emirates||Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan|
|Vietnam||Nguyen Phú Trong|
|Western Sahara||Brahim Ghali|
|Yemen||Ali Abdallah Salih|
- What Are the Pros and Cons of a Unitary Government?
- The Pros and Cons of Federalism Explored
- The 2 Main Types of Monarchies
- The 3 Types of Martial Law
Alexandra Christensen is a freelance writer and editor. When she is not working on an assignment, she can be found hanging around with other writers on Medium.com/@alexandra_creates where she writes mostly about raising foster and adopted kids and those with invisible disabilities.