Initial note: this essay is published on a cat website ?. The welfare of cats and animal generally is impacted by dictatorships and therefore this essay is appropriate for this website! The essay is written in plain English to make it more understandable to kids. And the content is simplified as well for the same reason. These are my personal views straight out of my head. Some people will disagree with them. Please feel free to comment and amended the essay. I have characterized China as a dictatorship. Not everyone would agree with me including the Chinese government ?.
In general, the people of the world believe that a democratic government is better than a dictatorship because there are far more of the former compared to the latter. Some people disagree such as Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China. And sometimes dictatorships are more effective than democracies. Take two countries. The UK has one of the oldest democracies. China has a dictatorship.
Foggy and fuzzy
For the past several years, the UK has been bogged down with sloppy government. When decisions are made, they are often overturned in voting following laborious debates. Debating new policies and new laws is part of a democratic government. But sometimes nothing gets done. The government can be paralysed.
And if a decision is carried out it happens very slowly. Sometimes speed is needed to rectify problems in society. If bad situations are left for a long time, they create more bad things.
Democratic governments can be fuzzy and lack focus. They can be sluggish and inefficient and sometimes almost paralysed because of endless debates especially when the power of government is undermined because they have a very small majority.
Another problem and benefit with democracies is that in the UK, for example, there is a fresh election every four years. The politicians need to be re-elected. In order to achieve that they need to present policies to the electorate which are attractive. To make them attractive they’ve got to produce results quickly or try to.
This encourages politicians to think in the short term. Whenever decision is made in the short term you have a major problem because policies change. You ping from one policy to another and there is no consistency and building for the long term. Short-term thinking encourages bad thinking.
And the need to be re-elected is also seen in lobbying politicians by commercial enterprises. There is consistent pressure upon businesses to try and encourage politicians to make a decision which benefits the businesses.
Do as you please
In many ways China is the opposite. A very noticeable aspect of the Chinese dictatorship is that they think long term. Sometimes they think very long term such as building the New Silk Road from China to Europe to improve exports. The New Silk Road is called the Belt and Road Initiative. It is the kind of project only China could get involved in. It is on a global scale investing in more than 150 countries and organisations across the world.
And China has moved into Africa to mine their minerals and precious metals. This has taken years of cosying up to African leaders and governments. China lends money to Africans and uses the loan to force African leaders to do what they demand. China has projected forward by about 30 years. They recognised a problem which is a potential shortage of the basic materials they need to manufacture the world’s products.
And China does manufacture the world’s products cheaply. The rest of the world has become addicted to them. This gives China great power.
Whereas China can build a hospital in 10 days or a bridge in a week or a high-speed railway network in 5 years, the UK has been wrestling with one high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham for about 20 years and the construction has hardly begun. That’s what I mean, sluggish, very sluggish and messy. The UK is now debating stopping the project as costs have spiralled. But they’ve spent billions already for what? A hole in the ground and destroyed trees.
Dictatorships can ride roughshod over people’s rights. This means that they can get things done much more quickly. In democracies the rights of people and indeed wildlife, granted to wild animals by people, are protected. These create obstructions to achieving goals such as, as mentioned, building a high-speed rail network which will cut through people’s homes and properties.
Whereas China can simply bulldoze a whole housing estate, in the UK they have to go through endless years of argument, planning and court cases to perhaps achieve the same goal or perhaps not.
There are two main good point about dictatorships, therefore: speed of action and long-term thinking in the case of China.
But because dictatorships are very much concerned with human progress and capitalism, animal welfare can get left behind. Also, historically, dictators per se are generally disinterested in animal welfare. There are two egocentric. They are not particularly interested in others unless it’s what they can get out of them.
President Xi supports Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for instance. This is a medicine which is based upon superstition and which almost single-handedly is destroying the Bengal tiger by driving it to extinction through poaching for body parts. Clearly the president has no concern for animal conservation. China does not have any real animal welfare laws. The UK has great animal welfare laws.
In China animal welfare has been neglected although things are changing as they become more westernised in this respect because of the Internet and Chinese citizens seeing how other countries deal with animal welfare.
But there is a philosophy about the relationship between humans and animals in a dictatorship such as China’s which means that animals are there to benefit people as their sole purpose. Animals need to work to benefit people or they should be eaten to feed people. That’s one reason why they eat domestic cats and dogs in the south of China. This is behavior which the citizens of UK’s democracy don’t understand and find very distasteful.
Two more negatives to dictatorships
Another obvious point about dictatorships is that the citizens of the country can’t protest because protest marches and so on are normally banned. In parallel, the citizens are kept in the dark through government-controlled media outlets which distort the truth to keep the masses silent and passive. Another way to prevent protests against the dictator’s government. A dictator does everything they can to remain in power at the expense of human and animal rights and liberties.
Lastly, although the dictatorship of China has found great success for their country commercially, the Chinese people can’t get rid of their dictator, President Xi Jinping. Because he can change the constitution, he can keep himself in power almost indefinitely just like Putin in Russia. A dictator has to be benevolent in their decision-making. If not there has to be a revolution by the people to get rid of them. That’s a big problem with dictatorships.
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