I hate dictatorship!

Dott. Raffaele Battista, Librarian and Teacher at Facoltà Avventista di Teologia

Of course everyone does, but If so, a question still remains: why in our postmodern world are dictators still in place, while people try to get rid of them at the cost of their own blood?
The Arab Spring surprised and amazed the world because of its unexpected onset. Entire populations have shown bravery, vitality and endurance.
But, all this has cost a heavy price in blood, especially if we consider the situation in Syria.
This fact leads us to reflect on the value of freedom in relation to the severity of the political situation against which we fight.
As a matter of fact, attitudes toward dictatorship may vary widely. Contrary to what I stated at the beginning of this article, in the course of history, the attitude of the people against the dictatorship was ambiguous and fluctuating. The issue of consent given by the masses towards people like Mussolini and Hitler is so vast and complex and would require specific essays.
You can not, however, fail to mention how in those emblematic cases, the phenomenon of consensus was so massive, putting a strain on our attempts to analyze and interpret the relationship between mass and power.
Dictatorship is an idea to which we recourse instinctively, through incidental, paradoxical, and irrational sentences when we feel that the order inherent to something vital is dangerously challenged. Sometimes in our everyday talk or arguments, we even leak out that we are referring to ourselves as decisive dictators!
More broadly we can say that people feel the need of strong men, only to throw them out with violence and infamy at the end of their natural and political cycle.
The attitude that we have described (and there is ample evidence of it in the history of Latin America, Europe, both Eastern and Western, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa- in short, the whole world), indicates that it is not easy to define the concept of dictatorship. Of course, it can be very easy to do using the abstract and possibly correct definitions of the dictionary, but in reality things are much more complex and changing.
In contemporary usage, dictatorship refers to an autocratic form of absolute rule by leadership unrestricted by law, constitutions, or other social and political factors within the state.[1] This criterion seems to be very easy to keep in mind, but in socio-political and economic dynamics it may be relatively simple to change the interpretation of a few articles of the constitution and implement a policy restricting collective individual freedom.
But even when the democratic constitution is formally observed, a wide margin of action still exists for the strong powers such as the rulers of some financial and banking institutions.
As never before, in the last two years people have the feeling that their work and creativity can be nullified at any time by speculation.
As in an ordinary movie of political science fiction, the new dictators overlooking the balcony rhetoric, simply but more effectively, put their hands on the nerve centers of power. And what is worse, they retain invisibility and respectability.
Although there is a kind of dictatorship, invisible in its generating causes (in an upcoming article we will discuss the problem of a possible ethical finance and bank), the universe of ambiguity does not stop at the conspiracy theory.
Even when we refer to systems of government clearly violent and authoritarian, a wide margin of interpretation, still confusing, baffles us as observers. We examine the case of the rather worrisome Syria. The UN report on the one hand extensive cases of torture, murder, oppression, and anti-democratic actions. On the other hand the president of that country, speaks of individual responsibility of a few police officers and army.
To complete the scenario, the long- running civil war, brought into the ranks of the insurgents also some sections of the Islamic fundamentalism. The story of this half-century shows how the western political system has been sensitive to the call of authoritarianism, when it played into the war against communism; no wonder then, that the Syrian president has pressed the fear in response to the words of condemnation spoken by US President:
"Up to this point we have not decided on a military engagement - remarked Barack Obama - but for us, the red line is to see chemical weapons moved from one place to another or used."[2]
It is not easy to decide when a government has crossed the line of the violation of fundamental freedoms. It is not easy to discern with absolute certainty even if a government openly authoritarian and criminal, will be replaced in the revolutionary process, by a truly democratic government.
Only a long democratic tradition, tolerant and respectful of human rights, is an effective paradigm to recognize the seeds of dictatorship and intolerance. It is clear that in a civil war that sees in the battle field an authoritarian government on the one hand and ferocious insurgents on the other, they are almost impossible to connect without any moral restraint and qualms of conscience.
The Christian churches, living out their mission faraway from the dynamics of power, can and will heal the wounds of all those who want to see a different path for society.
The path was clearly defined by the Judeo-Christian scriptures. It's global vision of man and of the world that can ensure a lasting peace with justice.

Back to list