How a Dictatorship Can be a Good Form of Government

Sana Haidary

Hearing the word dictatorship instantly makes us think of oppression, active suppression of criticism and dissent, corruption, violence, and living in fear. Yes, previous historical figures like Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Hideki Tojo, and Kim II Sung have negatively shaped our perspectives on dictatorship. Humans are flawed. It is the inevitable truth. There is a reason why we choose a hierarchy over a dictatorship. Checks and balances. Too much concentration of power is harmful because of the inherent flaws in human nature. Humans are fallible and, given the power, may amplify their inherent tendency to make bad decisions. However, there is always a second side we can consider— a more tolerant side. A perspective on why a dictatorship form of government, when done correctly, can have positive effects.

This may only work, however, if it is a benevolent dictatorship. Many consider a benign dictator to be the best form of a leader because of their concern for their people. A dictatorship can be a much more effective way of running a government as it establishes peace and has less room for corruption. It can provide economic stability to a country.

Moreover, dictatorship is much more flexible than democracy— the best example of a successful dictatorship is in Singapore under Lee Kew's leadership. Singapore began as a country with severe problems such as mass unemployment, housing shortages, and lack of land and natural resources. During Lee Kuan Yew's term as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, his administration curbed unemployment and raised living standards. Lee developed the country’s economic infrastructure, and he created an independent national defense system. Singapore evolved from a dying nation to first-world status towards the end of the 20th century. Many countries lag behind others in development due to decision paralysis and bureaucratic obstacles; however, with a dictatorship in place, there can be immediate action without roadblocks if the government decides to build an infrastructure project. A dictatorship can be the quickest, most efficient form of government. A dictator can change any policy on a whim. Democracy is like a giant, slow-moving leviathan. Another example is the rapid change in the economy in the 1960s in Korea under General Park Chung-hee. Between the early 1960s and 1990s, they underwent rapid industrialization and maintained exceptionally high growth rates of more than 7 percent a year. Their economic success has served as a model for many developing countries. The result of such decisions is an overall benefit for the public and thus is welcomed wholeheartedly by its citizens.

Of course, choosing a benevolent leader who would put the needs of a country above their own personal greed is a whole different matter in itself. However, if one such leader is found there is nothing stopping the country from developing and reaching its full potential, whether economically, structurally, or in a matter of efficiency. Over the course of history, because of the inherent flaws in human nature, benevolent leaders have not been common. We cannot call Stalin or Hitler benevolent leaders; we cannot say that they wanted the best for their countries. We can, however, say that the demographic changes brought about by their “rule of terror” are tremendous. Russia was transformed from a peasant society into an industrial and military superpower. Hitler rebuilt the German Economy after utter destruction in WWI. And while the world tends to fixate on their negative actions rather than their achievements (for good reason), it is important to take into consideration the idea that under a single ruler, a single source of power, a country can progress in the most efficient manner.