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Insights & Media

ANALYSIS | Dictatorship is the best form of governance.

March 3

THBT dictatorship is the best form of governance. 

Written by Chian Lim Won, edited by Margeaux Lavoie

Hey all!

Students at LearningLeaders have recently been debating on whether dictatorship is the best form of government. In this blog post, the coaches want to share a little bit more about the motion and the possible arguments to run for both the PRO and CON teams.

CON Arguments

The common arguments run by most con teams were about dictators not being able to guarantee freedom of individual citizens and that freedom is important for individuals. Some teams went further by explaining why dictators are unable to represent the society’s complex and sometimes conflicting interests, resulting in widespread unhappiness and dissatisfaction of the governed populace.

To improve the con cases further, teams should research more deeply to explain why dictators cannot guarantee freedom of individual. One possible way to explain this could be that because dictators have all the power to do whatever they desire and what they want may come in direct conflict with the desires of the people. In this case, the individual will have to sacrifice personal happiness in order to comply with the rules of the dictator. For example, during his reign, Adolf Hitler had mandatory laws for men to serve in the military in the build up to World War II. If an individual attempted to resist, they would be punished or even executed.

One aspect that the con teams need to work on, which most teams conveniently ignored, is the framework of the debate: what must the con team prove in order to win the debate? As long as the CON team can prove that there is one form of governance better than dictatorship, they should win the debate. The real challenge, however, is to define and defend the question: “What makes a better form of governance?”. Instead of explaining the criteria for good governance, most teams rely on stacking examples of experiences they do not want as bad governance, such as not having freedom, having to live in constant fear etc. This should be discouraged because even with the examples, the benchmark for a good governances has yet to be explained or defined. Debaters should first seek to explain in theory what the criteria is and then provide examples to clarify plausible confusion in wording.

PRO Arguments

Most of us might feel that this debate was inherently biased against the pro team. How is it possible to argue that regimes like Saddam Hussain’s, Muammar Gaddafi’s, or Adolf Hitler’s were the best form of governance, especially when many of the regimes collapsed in chaos, causing millions of deaths and displacing many of its people far away from home?

One way to circumvent this problem is to restrict the debate to discussing benign dictators or benevolent dictators. The benevolent dictator is a political concept describing political rulers with wide and expansive range of powers, ruling in accordance with the desires of its people. Some academics have suggested Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk of Turkey, and Josip Broz Tito of the former Republic of Yugoslavia as examples of benevolent dictators. They argue that underdeveloped countries are more likely to see positive social and economic change via a dictatorial government regime than through the guise of traditional democracy. This is because the authoritative government tend to dismiss opposition, focus resources on building the economy, and prioritize addressing material needs of the society rather than promoting values such as freedom and human rights.

The challenge for the PRO team in this debate would then be to explain why is a society of economic prosperity better than one with less prosperity and  increased participation of the public? The examples of how democracy may not result in the best options that debaters could consider to study further are the recent Brexit polls and the election of Donald Trump as the President of United States.

In conclusion, the main takeaways for debaters in this cycle are that there is a need to explain concepts with layers of reasoning instead of just stacking examples, hoping that the judge can glean some sort of value from these examples. Debaters need to work on framing the debate so that a productive and balanced discussion can take place for both teams!

Recently, the coaches have discovered a video explaining the inner workings of dictatorships and democracies, and how they are similar. We strongly recommend you take some time to view and take notes from the video for future debate use! Happy debating, and looking forward to some great arguments in class. Stay tuned for more motion analyses in the future!

Credits for the video: CPG Grey 

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