Democracy vs dictatorship
Both democracy and dictatorship are forms of government. Democracy may be preferable because it edges towards a government of the people and by the people. Those under a democracy are free to elect their leaders but unfortunately, they may be limited to the choice of having to choose between two bad leaders. On the other hand, the people who are under a dictatorial regime are easy to control though they have no rights and the government has its power vested in one person or entity that controls almost all aspects of the citizens' lives. The leaders, in this case, force everybody to toe the line. This essay examines the novella, ‘Our Twisted Hero', by Yi Munyol, a Korean author, who applies the analogy the juvenile tribulations of school life to explore the aspects of democracy and dictatorship. The idea that carries the day, in the book, is that a dictatorship is lethal. While there are benefits to both a democracy and a dictatorship, a dictatorship ends up being destructive.
Why dictatorship is bad
First, dictatorship leads to abuse of power. The one on whom power is vested becomes so powerful that they do not differentiate between using it and abusing it. They become corrupted by this massive power. Interestingly, the subjects do not even seem to have a problem because they are so subjugated that they do not realize they are being denied their rights. Anyone who seems to threaten these leaders' positions has to be silenced. In the novel, ‘Our Twisted Hero', one of the main characters, Om Sokdae, the class monitor, wields a lot of power. He forces his will upon his classmates and manipulates them as he wishes. Since he is bigger and older than the rest, he dominates the class, and no one dares defy him. As soon as Han Pyongt'ae lands in this class on transfer from a city school, and tries to prove that he is better than the rest, Om views him as an antagonist and has to contain him. The narrator explains that “Sodkae misused his legitimate authority to punish me unfairly” (59). Om goes ahead and influences all his classmates to ignore the new boy, Han. Han does not understand why a single student should command so much following from the rest. No one even seems to question the logic behind ignoring Han. This is symbolic of dictatorial regimes. Unlike in a democracy, the citizens are ordered and manipulated by their leaders to behave in a certain way. Nobody dares raise their voice for fear of reprisal. Consequently, these leaders wield their immense power with impunity and end up subduing the citizens. This destroys the healthy relationship that should exist between a leader and their subjects for the sake of development.
Secondly, dictatorship leads to psychological turmoil. The citizens either have to toe the line or suffer in silence forever. The productivity of a psychologically disturbed citizen goes down. They have no peace of mind. As Han Pyongt'ae joins this village school, he has a track record of excellent academic performance and is very confident that he is going to excel in his new school; both in academics and leadership. However, he states that “before four months had passed, these hopes and beliefs had collapsed” (85). He is shocked when he learns that Om, the class tyrant, will not let him exploit his talents. The ostracism that he suffers negatively affects his psychological health. This leads to deterioration in his academic performance. He gets in trouble with his parents and teachers. Although Om is not the typical bully one may find at school, he still manages to cause a lot of grief to Han; and he is happy about it. Dictators derive pleasure from making others suffer. Most of them do it so abstrusely that the victim may have no proof that the dictator is behind it. As a result, the victim is unable to meet expectations due to low productivity. This demonstrates the destructive nature of dictatorship.
Also, dictatorship demoralizes the citizens. It intimidates them and ensures that they lose the fighting spirit unlike in a democracy. As soon as they realize that they have no choice but to accept that there is nothing they can do about the dictator, they give up and behave like robots. Things turn from bad to worse under their noses. Han's arrival at the village school is expected to bring Om's dictatorial regime to an end. When Om orders that he presents himself before him, he puts up a spirited fight. According to the orientation from his former school in Seoul city, the job of a class never had anything to do with physical strength. He declares war against Om Sokdae. However, the rest of his classmates side with Om. Han gives up. He says “I had been watching carefully, hoping he’d make a decisive mistake, but I flinched now beneath his sudden gaze” (32). Han finally learns the bitter truth: that it is almost impossible to beat Om in this game. He, therefore, swallows his pride and bows to Om like the rest of his classmates. Although this makes his life easier as he is now accepted by the rest, he is dissatisfied hence is happy when the tables are finally turned and Om is overthrown. The overthrowing of Om demonstrates that a tyrant cannot rule forever. However, the destruction caused may be irreversible.
In conclusion, whereas a democracy benefits the majority, only a few people - the leaders - benefit from dictatorship. Democracy benefits the common citizens as they participate in the governance process. However, dictatorships subjugate the common citizens who have absolutely no say in the government operations. They are also subjected to psychological turmoil and demoralization. This demonstrates that dictatorship is destructive and inhuman; thus, must be vehemently fought against and overcome.
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