In Praise of Dictators: A Swiftian Perspective

14 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2022

See all articles by Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

INSEAD - Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise

Date Written: April 22, 2022


This article takes a 'Swiftian perspective' to the question of dictatorship. Using satire to expose people’s idiocy in supporting dictatorships, it celebrates the benefits of this form of governance. At the same time, it highlights some of the downsides of democracy. It makes the tongue-in-cheek argument that democracies are unwieldy castles in the sky. The subtext, however, draws attention to the dangers of autocratic rule. It highlights how dictators contribute to the destruction of civil society, instigating corruption, terror, war, and even genocide. Furthermore, the article points out how dictators cement their autocratic rule, using fear to keep their citizens compliant. It also highlights how they will suppress free speech by controlling the flow of information. At the same time, the article emphasizes the fragility of democracies and the need to support them through a well-informed citizenry, an independent judiciary, a free press, free speech, solid civic institutions, and the right to demonstrate. The article ends by iterating that all these things are sacrificed in maintaining a dictatorship and how easily it can happen.

Keywords: Dictatorship, Autocracy, Democracy, Free Press, Free Speech, Independent Judiciary, Right to Demonstrate, Corruption, Terror, War, Genocide

Suggested Citation

Kets de Vries, Manfred F.R., In Praise of Dictators: A Swiftian Perspective (April 22, 2022). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2022/22/EFE, 2022, Available at SSRN: or

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (Contact Author)

INSEAD - Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise ( email )

Fontainebleau Cedex, F-77305

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