There are good dictators

Forms of rule: Are there any good dictatorships?

Plato was of the opinion that a national community was too seductive and dependent on moods to be able to rule a country - the philosopher was an opponent of democracy. For ancient Athens he saw a philosopher on the royal throne. Someone who embodies wisdom and justice at the top, for the good of the people, of course, but as sole ruler.

"Order and economic progress come before freedom," says the American journalist Robert D. Kaplan. His portrayal of imperialism as a stabilizing force is criticized by many. But Kaplan cites the Arab state of Oman as a successful example of dictatorship: Sultan Kabus ibn Said has ruled there - for 48 years, absolutist and dictatorial. Kaplan believes that Kabus ibn Said led the country into a new order after the Dhofar War (1965–1975) and that the economy flourished again because of him. "There is little repression in Oman," said Kaplan: The Omanis could openly speak their minds and criticize the government.

What he does not mention: In Oman, too, the protests in the 2011 Arab Spring were violently suppressed. Do public order and economic prosperity legitimize such repression of a dictatorship? Kaplan agrees. More recent election results in the western world also seem to support it. It is true that voters in the USA or Turkey did not vote for the introduction of a dictatorship. But they gave their vote to autocrats with Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Populists came to power in other countries as well: in Poland and Italy, and in Germany the AfD has continued to grow. The longing for simple solutions has not died out. "External determination, as exercised in a dictatorship, can never be good," says Martin Sabrow, "and never better than self-determination." Sabrow is a historian and director at the Center for Research on Contemporary History in Potsdam. He was chairman of the expert commission set up by the federal government, which in 2006 presented a concept for coming to terms with the SED dictatorship. He doesn't believe that there are good dictatorships.

Birgit Aschmann is also a historian. She teaches 19th century European history at the Humboldt University in Berlin. She had initially refused the interview: She found the question of a good dictatorship absurd. Aschmann later admitted, however, that there are people who can see positive aspects in the dictatorships in which they live, for example groups of people who benefit from a dictatorship. In a dictatorship, not only posts but also prestige would be distributed. Then people who had previously had no chance suddenly enjoyed power and respect. But the pride of one is paid for with the fear of the other. "Anyone who does not fit into the ideological worldview or is not prepared to behave in conformity with the system must live in constant fear that this could have far-reaching consequences for them," says Aschmann. Kaplan's argument that many dictators helped their countries achieve economic prosperity is problematic for the professor. "Economic progress should never come at the expense of freedom and self-determination. Besides, one can never know whether the economy would not have grown in a democracy."

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, said: "No man is good enough to rule another man without his consent."