Dictators of the World

In one of our History Club sessions , we picked a theme that revolved around dictators of the world. There was great fact sharing that happened on many dictators , but the most interesting aspect was related to following two questions :

  • What is the difference between Monarchy and Dictatorship?
  • Are all dictators bad?

Dictatorship vs Monarchy

Dictatorship and monarchy are different terms of governance but are almost the same in the sense that both have usurped the power of the people.

A dictatorship is an office that has been gotten through force, and a monarchy or crown is reign that is passed from one generation to another.

A dictatorship is termed as a government ruled by one person or commander who is known as the dictator. For example, Saddam Hussein was the dictator of Iraq till the U.S. forces killed him. Benito Mussolini was also a dictator who ruled Italy from 1925 to 1943.

In a dictatorship, it is the dictator who dictates the law of the country. Dictatorships are very similar to an absolute monarchy. The rule of the dictator can happen through military takeovers, through rebellions, or if an elected person refuses to step down from his office.

Monarchy is the rule of the king or queen or an emperor. A monarchy can be divided into a limited monarchy, Constitutional monarchy, and absolute monarchy. In a limited monarchy, the monarch has only ceremonial powers. Queen Elizabeth of England is an example of a limited monarchy. Though she is the queen, she does not have any word in law making. In a Constitutional monarchy, the monarch has certain powers as per the Constitution. The Swedish monarch is an example of this type of monarchy. In an absolute monarchy, the monarch is supreme and has absolute authority. Saudi Arabia is an example of an absolute monarchy. Here the monarch can enforce any law he wishes.

In both a dictatorship and a monarchy, the dictators and monarchs oppress people for their own existence and gains. “Monarch” is the Anglicized version of the Greek word meaning “alone.” A dictator was an office in Rome which was only a temporary position allowing a single person to have absolute authority in times of crisis.

Summary

Dictatorship is an office that has been gotten through force, and a monarchy or crown is reign that is passed from one generation to another.

  • A dictatorship is termed as a government ruled by one person or commander who is known as the dictator.
  • Monarchy is the rule of the king or queen or an emperor.
  • A rule of the dictator can happen through military takeovers, through rebellions, or if an elected person refuses to step down from his office. Monarchy is a family affair.
  • A monarchy can be divided into limited monarchy, Constitutional monarchy, and absolute monarchy.

In both a dictatorship and a monarchy, the dictators and monarchs oppress people for their own existence and gains.

Five Types of Government Systems

Democracy

A democracy can be defined as a government system with supreme power placed in the hands of the people. It can be traced back to as early as the fifth century B.C. In fact, the word democracy is Greek for “people power”. While most use the United States as an example of a democratic government system, the United States actually has what is called a representative democracy. The difference lies in the method of civilian participation. In a direct democracy, every citizen is given an equal say in the government. In a representative democracy, citizens elect representatives who make the law. The difference is significant when put into action. Other examples of democratic states include Aruba, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

Republic

In a republic government system, the power also rests with the people, as they oversee electing or choosing the country’s leader, instead of the leader being appointed or inheriting power. Broadly defined, a republic is a government system without a monarch. A republic may be governed by a group of nobles, as long as there is not a single monarch. Some examples of countries with a republic government system include Argentina, Bolivia, Czech Republic and France.

Monarchy

In a monarchy, state power is held by a single family that inherits rule from one generation to the next. In a monarchy, an individual from the royal family holds the position of power until they die. Today, the majority of monarchy governments have transitioned to constitutional monarchies, where the monarch is head of state but only performs ceremonial roles and does not have state power. Only a few countries still have systems where the monarch retains control; these include Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Swaziland.

Communism

A communist government system is usually based on a particular ideology of communism taught by Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin. A single party or group of people usually runs communist states. In some cases, citizens of a communist state are given certain jobs or life duties in an effort to obtain collective citizenship for the state. Examples of communist states include China, Cuba and Vietnam.

Dictatorship

In a dictatorship, a single person, a dictator, has absolute power over the state. It is not necessarily ruled by a theology or belief. It is an authoritarian form of government where one person is in charge of enforcing and enacting the law. Aspects often include military organizational backing, unfair elections (if any) and various human rights violations. A dictator does not usually inherit their power like a monarch does; they either seize control of the state by force or through (usually unfair) elections. Dictators are not held accountable for their actions and thus are free to do as they please, including limiting citizens’ rights. Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and North Korea are contemporary examples of countries run by a dictator.

Good Dictators

Few examples are enough to prove it is possible but then they are very few to justify!
Ashoka
Ashoka was an Indian emperor, belonging to the Mauryan dynasty between c 268 to 232 BCE. He ruled over almost the entire subcontinent of India stretching from present-day Bengal to Afghanistan. He turned out to be a benevolent ruler after the Kalinga War and is one of the first rulers to give consideration to humans and animals in his empire.
Kemal Pasha
Kemal Pasha was the President of Turkey from 1922 until the time he died in 1938. He was a nationalist revolutionary who raised an army against the Ottoman Empire’s European occupants. In 1935, he was given the surname “Ataturk,” which means “Father of the Turks.” He modernized Turkey far beyond any recognition of its former state.
Josip Tito
Josip Broz Tito was essentially a dictator but became the official leader of Yugoslavia in 1945 to 1980 by overthrowing the ruling king. He, however, was instrumental in bringing a more relaxed form of communism to the country, called “Titoism.”
Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew was a Cambridge-educated lawyer who freed Singapore from British rule in 1959. Yew ruled the country with iron-clad rules from 1959 to 1990 as the prime minister and for 21 years after that as an advisor. He took Singapore, an impoverished agricultural economy, and raised it to become one of Asia’s richest countries.
Paul Kagame
Paul Kagame, the 60-year-old President of Rwanda, has been in power since 1994 when his rebel army ended the genocide which had killed 800,000 people. He was the defense minister and vice-president until 2000 after which he assumed the presidential office. Despite his ruthlessness, he has managed to take the country forward by bringing about a number of reforms.
Frances Albert Rene
Frances Albert Rene overthrew the president of Seychelles in a coup d’état in 1977 and took his place. He is also known as “The Boss” among party members and government officials. During his regime, Seychelles became the most developed country in Africa.
Peisistratus
Peisistratus is known as the “tyrant of ancient Athens” and ruled between 561 and 527 BCE. He may have been a dictator, but his administration and policies helped Athens become one of the most prosperous and beautiful cities in ancient times.
Frederick II
Frederick II, or Frederick the Great, was the self-proclaimed king of Prussia from 1740 to 1786. He unified the kingdom and modernized it by making reforms to the judicial and economic system and encouraging religious tolerance.
Simon Bolivar
Simon Bolivar was the President of Grand Columbia from 1819 until he stepped down in 1830. He was officially named the dictator of Peru in 1824. He was a great military leader and speaker who was instrumental in releasing Venezuela, Peru, Columbia, Bolivia, Panama, and Ecuador from Spanish dominion.
Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great became the Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796 by unseating her husband, Peter III, with help from her lover. Although she held absolute power, she ushered in the Golden Age of the Russian Empire, or the Russian Enlightenment, by introducing a number of changes in administration
and reforms.