Dictators often rise to power out of conflict or a coup d’etat. However, there have been dictators who got into power democratically or legally. Adolf Hitler, for example, was appointed chancellor, or head of government, by President Paul von Hindenburg in 1933. After Hindenburg DIED, Hitler made himself “Führer” (a combination of president and chancellor).
So how can you tell if your President is a dictator?
1. Dictators foster cults of personality, a form of hero worship in which the masses are fed propaganda declaring their leader to be flawless and divine.
2. Under a dictatorship, protestors of bad governance are punished harshly
3. Political power is concentrated in the hands of few people or just one person.
4. Media freedom is systematically obliterated, leaving newspapers, radio and television as tools for indoctrination.
5. Intimidation, murder, imprisonment, state-sponsored violence and other human rights abuses are used to control the population.
6. The right to private property is easily abolished.
7. They weaken institutions of governance, and compromise law enforcement agencies to protect individuals in the ruler’s inner circle.
8. Dictators usually have a larger number of security personnel, which is disproportionate to the country’s status.
9. Citizens are not allowed to check the ruler’s power; people’s complaints are condemned and regarded as sponsored sentiments of regime change.
10. Dictators use secret intelligence services to spy on the citizens and monitor private communication.
11. Civilian or not, military is usually a top focus for dictators and they often prioritise defence spending over social services.
12. Dictators never appoint ambitious subordinates as second in command, they prefer figurehead deputies.
13. They accumulate unexplained wealth and invest heavily on their hold to power.
14. Sometimes, dictators do allow elections but they remain in control of the outcome by allowing people to participate in a controlled manner.
15. Dictatorships sometimes come to an end just as chaotically as they began. What happened to Adolf Hitler, Fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and many other autocratic rulers is public knowledge.