Dictatorships are a tantalising ideal. The idea that a country should be one nation under “god” is not a new one, and has existed in one form or another, from the early days of traditional monarchy to modern day autocracies. With supreme authority concentrated in the hands of a few, it would seem a leadership unfettered by bureaucratic niceties would be more efficacious. Yet the substantial risk of oversight and information failure in the context of the multi-faceted challenges faced by modern societies means that democracies are a better choice in terms of efficiency. I am of the opinion that the best way to govern a country is through democratic institutions fortified by strong, iron-clad principle of law and upright leadership with the “dictator-like” qualities of decisiveness.

Dictatorships are more efficient than democracies because dictators do not have to contend with other parties for power. Substantial resources are needed to contest in free and fair elections, where candidates have a very real chance of losing to equally viable competitors. Instead of channelling resources into activities that are in the public interest, democratic leadership diverts its attention to pandering to key voters, delivering populistic speeches or engaging in worthless brinksmanship with other political parties. Conversely in a dictatorship, with non-existent or limited political freedoms, the dictator perpetuo never needs to concern himself with transitions of power, and are thus freed to concentrate on fulfilling the public interest. Lee Kuan Yew is a case in point. To eliminate his political opponents, Lee invoked the Internal Security Act, a draconian measure to detain persons without trial. Lee arbitrarily leveraged his position as Prime Minister, incarcerating them without trial, transgressing against their freedom of expression. Thus, an authoritarian Lee consolidated power and successfully pushed for the merger with the Federation of Malaya, which he believed would bolster the Singapore economy, and raise many out of poverty. Lee subsequently served the nation as Prime Minister for decades which allowed him to carry out long term policies in areas such as education, defence and trade which required long gestation periods to succeed. By eliminating the possibility of getting ousted from power, Lee prevented the positive outcomes of his leadership from being jeopardised. Hence, dictatorships are more efficient as they do away with internal power struggles and allow the incumbent to muster the necessary legislative and executive might to administrate effectively.

Dictatorships are more efficient than democracies because decision-making is conducted at the highest level. This top down approach puts all available resources at the disposal of the dictator. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s state ideology Juche exemplifies efficient resource allocation in achieving its goals. Juche dictates that the state should be militarily self-reliant, and consequently its command economy directs the majority of its resources into developing a weaponised nuclear program. By concentrating heavily on its nuclear program, North Korea has made outstanding progress in the past year, acquiring (no doubt through illicit means) Soviet rocket engines from Ukraine to develop ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles), as well as a working hydrogen bomb that could launch on an ICBM, drastically augmenting its first-strike capabilities. In the light of the multitudinous sanctions restricting its trade and thus ability to import resources, it has achieved stellar success. In contrast, policy making in India is often at the state level, leading to a fragmented approach to administration. For example, even though India ought to have a comparative advantage in low-skilled, labour-intensive manufacturing, India has faced much trouble in growing its low-cost manufacturing sector. With over 140 overlapping labour laws, 44 at the federal level and about 100 at the state level, India has difficulty tapping on its abundant pool of labour. States with overly restrictive laws have experienced weaker industrial growth and benefited less from investment delicensing. The political economy of reform in both areas is difficult, given the regulatory overlap with different levels of government. Hence, dictatorship is better at coordinating policy action, enabling greater efficiency in governance.