Last modified on January 17, 2021, at 19:05


A dictatorship is a political system of government in which a single person (the dictator) or collective committee (politburo) has absolute power, because no legal process exists by which the leadership can be removed from office against their will.

Many ancient non-monarchial systems were effectively dictatorships, often under wartime conditions where a leader could fight an enemy with unchallenged power. The term is usually heard in its modern context, where democracy and checks on power (a Council of Elders, such as the Senate, House of Lords, or judicial processes) exist as an alternative to absolute power by an Executive.

Extreme Leftism, which opposes democracy and advocates single party control, fosters dictatorship. A core principle of Marxism is dictatorship, which Socialists claim is a transitory stage; however no socialist victory was ever won without the dictatorship becoming a permanent institutional feature and leading the nation state it possesses to democidal warfare and economic ruin.

An historical context

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 sometimes cited as examples of "enlightened despots" 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]

Modern dictatorships

Historical dictatorships

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.


  • Ronald Reagan famously said, "The ten most dangerous words in the English language are "Hi, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."
  • Among conservatives, libertarians and anarchists, "The State" referred to in "Statism" is big government that derives its power through coercion via the threat of violence. According to conservative libertarian pundit Stefan Molyneux, "The idea that The State is capable of solving social problems is now viewed with great skepticism - which foretells a coming change. As soon as skepticism is applied to the State, the State falls, since it fails at everything except increasing its power, and so can only survive on propaganda, which relies on unquestioning faith."[3]

See also


  1. Singapore Leads the Good Life Under a Benevolent Dictator
  2. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum GALLERY TWO: The Humanitarian Years
  3. Quotes from Stefan on Accessed January 25, 2016