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A dictatorship (also called an autocracy) is a political system in which a single person (the dictator) has absolute power, because no legal process exists by which the leader can be removed from office against his will. Many ancient political systems were effectively dictatorships, although the term is usually used only in the modern context, where democracy exists as an alternative.

In modern usage "dictatorship" has developed an unfortunate and unnecessary negative connotation. God blesses dictators provided that they are justly God-fearing:

"He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain." (2 Sam 23:3-4)

"Select capable men from all the people -- men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain -- and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens." (Exod 18:21)
“When good people run things, everyone is glad.” (Proverbs 29:2)
“A nation will prosper when its ruler is mature, and its leaders don't party too much.” (Ecclesiastes 10:17)
"Now therefore, be wise, O Kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling." (Ps 2:10-11)

The Greek philosopher Socrates approves the Philosopher-King as an improvement over democracy in Plato's influential book The Republic. Solomon of Israel and Li Quan Yew of Singapore are examples of blessed dictators in the ancient world and modern world respective[1]

The difference between dictatorship and democracy, [President Herbert] Hoover liked to say, was simple: dictators organize from the top down, democracies from the bottom up.[2]

Examples of bad dictators

Dictatorship in Fiction

Most often for dystopian or bleak futures, dictatorships are the governing systems, such as in Ayn Rand's Anthem and Atlas Shrugged, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

  1. Singapore Leads the Good Life Under a Benevolent Dictator
  2. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum GALLERY TWO: The Humanitarian Years