Dynasty, democracy and dictatorship

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Moses Tshimukeni Mahlangu

CHARACTERISTICS of a democracy manifest themselves in legal equality, personal freedoms and rule of law, while on the other hand dictatorship is an authoritarian type or a feudal system.

Dynasties may have features of a feudal or monarchical form of governance.

Milton Friedman criticised democracy on the premise that voters were irrational, meaning that voters are highly uninformed regarding political issues, especially relating to economics. Such voters have a strong bias about the few issues on which they are knowledgeable.

This assertion cuts across the notion that no one was born knowledgeable. Knowledge is acquired. In addition, which is better to be controlled by the critical mass than one despotic individual?

Socrates in his book, The Republic views democracy as a charming form of governance, full of variety and disorder, which dispenses some sort of equality to equals and unequalled alike. This sounds like an elitist view.

On the other hand Aristotle in his book Politics argues that democracy is the form of government in which the free are rulers and oligarchy. He goes on to argue that accidentally the free may be many and the rich few.

Democracy is pillared on the legislature, executive and judiciary. The said three pillars are underpinned by civilian control of the army, accountability and transparency.

Military leadership must fully subscribe to a democratic system, if instability caused by military coups and dictatorships are to be avoided.

A responsible government system must be accountable to the electorate. In addition, every transaction should be undertaken above board.

In our previous encounter, dictatorship was defined as a form of government in which absolute power resides in the dictator or a small clique.

Dictatorships may emerge from a military dictatorship, single-party State, hybrid or a personalist. The military dictator may be an arbitrator, which connotes professionalism, civilian oriented and willingness to have power once the teething problems are resolved, thereby supportive of the social order.

On the other hand, a ruler looks down upon civilians as incompetent.

Such a ruler is opposed to allowing civilian rule.

In addition, the ruler is politically organised and has a coherent ideology.

A single-party State may be weak or strong. A weak single-party State develops where at least one actor eclipses the role of the party.

Good examples are Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Mustafa Kermial Ataturk, Ismet Inon’u and (make your own guess).

The personalist and hybrid may be a combination of the types mentioned earlier on. Stable dictatorships remain in power for longer periods.

In our previous engagement, a dynasty was defined as a line of rulers from one family.

A question was asked as to how dynasties could be prevented.

It would appear, the answer lies in the establishment of strong political parties, with adequate quality to stop the dynasty from usurping power. The mass is, therefore, critical. Genuine critical mass that is objective and principled.

Dynasties are known for breaking own laws and inciting upheavals in dealing with their opponents.

Of all the three forms of governance interrogated so far, each one of them has its strengths and short comings. In other words, one has to choose the better devil between the three forms of governance.

The strength of democracy lies in its ability to take aboard the masses. However, the system can be manipulated to lace masses with chocolate they never eat.

On the one hand, dictatorships that are formed by the arbitrator dictators who take over power only to hand back to civilians seems to be a well intentioned.

The type of dictatorship that is bent on increasing its territory and wealth is self-serving.

A dynasty becomes even more repelling, if members of the dynasty are a ruthless and a self-serving lot.

In management studies, there is what is called situational management, meaning each situation needs to be tackled differently.

A leader can exercise democracy, dictatorship and may be dynasty, depending on the prevailing circumstances.

Ask any leader worth his salt, he or she will agree that a leader moves on the three pendulums for him or her to survive.

There is no single form of governance that can claim to be a stand alone pillar.

Feedback: E-mail: mosietshimu@gmail.com