Article on those rulers who bring destruction and suffering.
Sometimes a parent or a teacher will “lay down the law” to you. He or she will say that you must do a certain thing or else be punished. This is called dictating or giving orders that must be obeyed.
A ruler of a country who behaves this way is called a dictator. Dictators have complete power over the people of their countries. They usually make or unmake laws without consulting the people. They decide the policy of the government themselves. They have the power to put to death or imprison anyone who disobeys or criticizes them.
Most dictators have come to power in times of war or national emergency. A country may benefit from the strong control of a single ruler at such times. But a dictator must limit the freedom of the people in order to retain complete power. These measures can lead to great hardship if they are continued for any length of time.
Dictators, such as Julius Caesar, were sometimes appointed in times of emergency in ancient Rome. But they were usually allowed to stay in power for only a limited time.
Dictators have ruled in several countries in recent times. Some came to power by gaining the support of a group, such as the army, and seizing control of a country by force. This is how Francisco Franco became dictator of Spain. But in many cases, dictators came to power legally and then took over complete control. Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler of Germany, Francois Duvalier of Haiti, and Juan Peron of Argentina all became dictators by these methods.
Most of these dictators promised their people a better life. But once in power, they repressed all individual freedom. Newspapers were shut down, and radio and television controlled. They used secret police to enforce their laws. If dictators decide to use these methods to stay in power as long as possible, the only way their rules can be ended in their lifetimes is by revolution. And revolution is almost impossible since the dictator controls the army and the police.