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Why is dictatorship better than democracy?

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Quick Answer

Although it may sound foreign to many living in the Western world, not all people have historically believed that democracy is the best form of government. Advocates for dictatorship or similar systems often argue that democracy is unreliable, particularly because the will of the people is at best an abstract idea and popular opinion cannot be trusted to make rational, informed policy choices.

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Philosophical criticism of democracy goes at least as far back as Plato, who had a deep dislike for it. According to Frostburg's Faculty, Plato saw democracy as giving power over to "incompetent politicians, ignorant voters, over-ambitious generals and other people unsuited to run a state." For Plato, allowing the common people to guide the state was similar to having untested seamen steer a ship. Instead, society needed the figure of the strong captain to provide direction, an individual with the proper character and training. For such critics of democracy, the will of the people is a dangerous thing. There are too many different interests spread among too many groups. Consequently, these interests often find themselves at odds with others. Therefore, allowing the people to decide policy ultimately leads to conflicts among the people themselves, and this leads to public disorder, violent struggle and perhaps even anarchy.

Advocates for dictatorship argue that only a strong, experienced leader can curb the worst effects of this disorder and bring society and the political sphere back into proper harmony. Indeed, for such thinkers, the single charismatic figure of the dictator is the adhesive that prevents a nation from being torn apart.

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