Benevolent dictator

From Academic Kids

The benevolent dictator is a more modern version of the classical "enlightened despot", being an undemocratic or authoritarian leader who exercises his or her political power for the benefit of the people rather than exclusively for his or her own self-interest or benefit, or for the benefit of only a small portion of the people.

Like many political classifications, this term suffers from its inherent subjectivity. Such leaders as Cromwell, Napoleon Bonaparte, Franco, Lenin, Tito, Pinochet, Anwar Sadat, Fidel Castro and Adolf Hitler have been characterized by their supporters as benevolent dictators. In all these cases it depends largely on one's point of view as to just how "benevolent" they were or are. Most dictators' regimes unfailingly portray themselves as benevolent, and often tend to regard democratic regimes as messy, inefficient, and corrupt. Additionally, many dictators use this portrayal in an attempt to create a Personality cult.

In the Spanish language, the word dictablanda is sometimes used for a dictatorship conserving some of the liberties and mechanisms of democracy. (The pun is that, in Spanish, dictadura is "dictatorship", dura is "hard" and blanda is "soft").

Open-source "benevolent dictators"

In the context of open-source projects, a "benevolent dictator" (or Benevolent Dictator for Life) is the person that effectively holds dictator-like powers over that project, yet is trusted by other users/developers not to abuse this power. The term is used humorously, because the "subjects" of the project leader contribute voluntarily, and the end-product may be used by everyone. A dictator in this context has power only over the process, and that only for as long as he or she is trusted. Examples include Linus Torvalds, Guido van Rossum, Larry Wall, and Jimmy Wales.

See also

he:דיקטטור_נאור

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