Most people say that democracy is the best of all wrong ways. And some people say that the best way is enlightened dictator. Hard to say, who is more right. But it is not matter of this question.

But what attributes should such dictator have to be really enlightened and still be dictator (that would be accepted by most people, not only few people he/she will not closely work for him/her)?

  • $\begingroup$ I recommend you look at this video explaining some mechanics about coming to power and staying there. It also touches on the utopian dictator and how even if he has the right characteristic, it doesn't work very well. youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs $\endgroup$
    – Hyfnae
    Jul 21, 2017 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ You've already got some answers, but I notice that the question lacks a few criteria I think would be important. Yes, you are asking for the differences between one type of dictator and another, but how can that accurately be answered unless you provide the other side of the function: what are the differences in your expected government, church, business, or organization which you expect your “enlightened” dictator to produce? No dissidents? No secret police? No control of information? No spying on citizens? No concentration camps? $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2017 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ This question should not be on hold, simply because it is interesting. $\endgroup$
    – user9981
    Jul 24, 2017 at 8:41

3 Answers 3


A government with a good absolute dictator would be very efficient, reactive, consistent and stable.

Attributes of a good dictator

  • Honest (indicating not only truth-telling but being reliable, and immune to bribery or blackmail)
  • Selfless
  • intelligent (not only raw intellect but possessing a great understanding of human behavior and sociology)
  • Discernment (being able to intuit the agendas, motivations, and worth of advisors prevents the leader from falling into sway of an evil advisor)
  • Fair (being consistent, which means not picking out favorites, winners or losers. Making sure that the law applies to all equally)
  • strong-willed (good men who are not strong willed are quicked cowed by evil men with strong wills)
  • virtuous (most vices pander to selfishness, which is the exact opposite of what a good leader must be)
  • Just (evil must be punished consistently)
  • Merciful (humans make mistakes)

Only a god or a computer could have all of these traits.

Notes about dictators

The problem with the job of absolute dictator is that humans get the job. We are selfish, stupid, unjust, unmerciful, inconsistent, full of immorality and vice, weak-willed, and dishonest. Even if a wise and tolerant leader arose, he or she would eventually die. As Solomon laments in Ecclesiastes 2:21, the wise leaves his work as an inheritance to the fool. A great many wise and noble leader left their kingdoms to fools who tore them up, such as Alexander the Great

Looking at the tutorial of history, most monarchs were either barely adequate or horrible rulers. Caligula, Nero, Stalin or Mao would serve as examples. Democracy was created as a buffer against the evils and ambitions of humanity. It pitting our leaders' ambition against itself, making them accountable to the people they rule, and diluting their evil, making it more difficult to be a tyrant.

  • $\begingroup$ Even a god or a computer could fail, like everything else. Though, I suppose, whether something can remain immutable or inviolate in those traits and yet interact with objects that are fallible or what–have–you would be a metaphysical axiom of the storyteller or worldbuilder. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2017 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." federalist paper #51 $\endgroup$
    – user25818
    Jul 21, 2017 at 22:23

Generally, enlightened dictator should seek benefit for the whole country, not just himself, and be progressive, not reactionary.

Other factors, like education, are of secondary importance. Dictator himself might lack any education, but he should realize the importance of technology and science, and put educated people to the right positions.

Let's take Napoleon as an example. He was seizing power with ruthless efficiency and marching his armies through Europe to expand this power. At the same time, he conducted a number of progressive reforms in law, taxation and education, which benefiting democratic nations to this day.

  • $\begingroup$ I.e. the person values knowledge and learning, but they are a generalist, and not a specialist. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2017 at 22:01

I'd say the most enlightened of dictators would be among those who realize how little power they possess over an entire population of free-thinking individuals, and who know how to use the cards they are dealt. The more 'dictatory' a dictator appears, the worse they will be received by people who want to maximize their own personal freedoms.

I'd say the characteristics of a good leader are, of course, impartiality, nobility in their cause and motivations, eloquence and variation of speech, consistency, and presence of mind.

I think a widely accepted dictator would also have to be cold calculative, physically attractive, non-emotional, asexual, and rigorously scientific.

Nobility is one of the big ones, though. The dictator needs to bring to the table a philosophy that a majority of the populace can rally behind, no matter from what religious, political, or social caste they might come.

Basically the Antichrist.

  • $\begingroup$ Haha. Also, that's actually the complete inversion of ‘nobility’. Nobility means someone who is somehow more pure that the commoners, or who is untainted by meaner concerns. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2017 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ Well frankly, noble has more than that 1 specific definition. I also had someone call me out some time ago, when I used the word 'chivalry,' which again has a formal, archaic definition, but also carries with it a higher meaning, or way of living, which is similarly juxtaposed by it's other, more modern definition. $\endgroup$
    – Bango
    Jul 21, 2017 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough, and that ambiguity of vocabulary is probably at the crux of the matter: The title “Antichrist” means two diametrically different things, depending on who uses the word. There is rather a large rift between the first paragraph and the sursequent ones, though. If you could bridge the gap a little, and maybe explain why those qualities would help a person to satisfy the conditions of the first paragraph … $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2017 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ The way I structured the paragraphs, they're all about different things. Enlightened dictator; good leader; popular dictator; practical philosophy; end on a joke. Maybe it should be the Dalai Lama, not the Antichrist. But I reckon neither exactly fit the description of enlightened dictator... $\endgroup$
    – Bango
    Jul 21, 2017 at 23:41

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