Essay on Dictatorship: Meaning and Causes of Dictatorship !

Meaning of Dictatorship:

According to Ford, “Dictatorship is the assumption of extra-legal authority by the Head of the State.” Alfred says, “Dictatorship is the government of one man who has not obtained his position by inheritance but either by force or by consent, and normally by a combination of both. He must possess absolute sovereignty. All political powers must ultimately emanate from his will and it must be unlimited in scope. It must be exercised more or less frequently in an arbitrary manner by decree rather than by law. Finally, it must not be incompatible with absolute rule”.

From Alfred Cobbon’s analysis it is revealed that main features of dictatorship are:

(1) This is one man’s rule;


(2) This is based on force or consent or a mixture of both;

(3) The dictator is not responsible to any other authority;

(4) His powers are unlimited;

(5) The Dictator runs the administration authoritatively and not according to law; and


(6) His tenure is not fixed.

Cobbon Alfred’s explanation was applicable to dictators like Napoleon or Kamal Ata Turk. It is also applicable to modern military dictators. But in the countries where dictatorship is based on party, this is not applicable.

For instance, there is dictatorship of the Communist Party in Russia, China, Czechoslovakia,’ Poland, Hungary, Rumania, etc. The First Secretary of the Communist Party is all powerful in these countries but his powers also depend on the party support.


Modem Dictatorships. Between 1919 and 1939 there was a great reaction against democracy and dictatorship was established in many countries of the world. In Turkey, Kamal Pasha, established his dictatorship in 1921 and he remained in power till his death in 1938. Mussolini abolished democracy in Italy in 1922 and became a dictator.


In Spain Primo de Rivera became dictator from 1923 to 1939. In Portugal, General Carmona remained a dictator from 1926 to 1933. In Yugoslavia, Emperor Alexander established his dictatorship in 1929 and he ran the administration without a Parliament. In 1933, Hitler established his dictatorship in Germany and he remained in power till 1944.

Lenin established the dictatorship of Communist Party in Russia after the revolution of 1917. After the Second World War, China, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Finland and Lithuania (Eastern Europe) also established the dictatorship of the Communist party but now most of the countries have opted for democracy.

Some years ago, Military Dictatorship was established in some countries, e.g., Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Sudan, Nigeria, Burma, Ghana, Indonesia and in some countries of South America, Chile, Panama, Argentina and Brazil. Now civilian rule has been restored in Argentina and Brazil, the largest countries of Latin America. Military revolutions took place in these countries and the administration was run by Military Dictators.

Causes of the Rise of Dictatorship:

(1) Outbreak of the First World War:


The First World War broke out in 1914. In order to conduct the war successfully even in democratic countries, the executive captured all the powers of the government and Parliaments were pushed aside. There was no regard for the freedom and rights of the people. As such, democracy received a severe set-back.

(2) The Treaty of Versailles of 1919 was based upon injustice:

The Treaty of Versailles (Paris Pact) was based on injustice. According to this treaty, Germany was bifurcated into two parts and they were handed over to. France, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Poland and League of Nations. Besides, a sum of £ 6,600 million was imposed as War-Indemnity on Germany. This compelled the people of Germany to think that only a strong government could bring about unification of the county and payment of reparation could be avoided. Thus, Hitler assumed power in 1933.

Though, according to the secret Treaty of London, Italy was to be given a new territory, yet after winning World War I, the governments of England and France did not fulfill that obligation. Italy suffered a heavy loss in World War I and she was very much disappointed. Pe’6ple believed that only a strong and powerful government could be effective at that stage. Thus Mussolini rose to power in 1922.


(3) Incompetence of democratic governments:

After World War I democratic government were established in Germany and Italy. They had to face many crises from the very beginning. There was the problem of the unification t the motherland and Economic Depression in Germany.

In Germany, the Jews were traitors and they advanced money at a high rate of interest to France during the war. Communists were encouraging civil war on all sides and they were resorting to strikes. This hit the economy very badly. The democratic government of Germany could not do anything between 1920 and 1933.

At last Hitler’s Nazi Party came to power, and it was determined to root out all these evils. In Italy too democratic government was established after World War I, but this could not solve the political and economic problem? Thus Mussolini ended the democratic government with the help of his Fascist Party and solved the political and economic problems by dint of his own ability and strength.


(4) Lack of Democratic Traditions:

There was a lack of democratic traditions in Italy, Germany, Russia, Portugal and Spain. The people became restive and they transferred all their rights to dictators.

(5) Inability to secure economic liberty:

In Russia, before 1917 revolution, Czar, Nicholas II was the ruler. He failed to take effective steps for the economic prosperity of the people. At the time of October revolution the Communists promised to remove economic disparities and guaranteed livelihood to all, with the result that the Communist revolution took place in Russia and the Communist Party established its dictatorship.

After World War II, Communist revolutions took place in China, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Rumania and Czechoslovakia, because the governments of these countries failed to bring prosperity to their people. At present there is dictatorship of Communist Party in these countries.