Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong
central power and limited political freedoms.
Individual freedoms are
subordinate to the state and there is no constitutional accountability
under an authoritarian regime. Juan Linz's influential 1964
description of authoritarianism characterized authoritarian
political systems by four qualities:
Limited political pluralism, that is such regimes place constraints on
political institutions and groups like legislatures, political parties
and interest groups;
A basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification
of the regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognizable
societal problems" such as underdevelopment or insurgency;
Minimal social mobilization most often caused by constraints on the
public such as suppression of political opponents and anti-regime
Informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting
Authoritarian government and states
Authoritarianism and totalitarianism
Authoritarianism and democracy
1.3 Examples of states considered to be authoritarian
1.4 Examples of states which were historically authoritarian
2 Systemic weakness and resilience
4 Gender and authoritarianism
5 See also
7 Works cited
8 External links
Authoritarian government and states
Linz distinguished new forms of authoritarianism from personalistic
dictatorships and totalitarian states, taking
Francoist Spain as an
example. Unlike personalistic dictatorships, new forms of
authoritarianism have institutionalized representation of a variety of
actors (in Spain's case, including the military, the Catholic Church,
Falange, monarchists, technocrats and others). Unlike totalitarian
states, the regime relies on passive mass acceptance rather than
Several subtypes of authoritarian regimes have been identified by Linz
and others. Linz identified the two most basic subtypes as
traditional authoritarian regimes and bureaucratic-military
Traditional authoritarian regimes are those "in which the ruling
authority (generally a single person)" is maintained in power "through
a combination of appeals to traditional legitimacy, patron-client ties
and repression, which is carried out by an apparatus bound to the
ruling authority through personal loyalties". An example is Ethiopia
under Haile Selassie I.
Bureaucratic-military authoritarian regimes are those "governed by a
coalition of military officers and technocrats who act pragmatically
(rather than ideologically) within the limits of their bureaucratic
Mark J. Gasiorowski suggests that it is best to
distinguish "simple military authoritarian regimes" from "bureaucratic
authoritarian regimes" in which "a powerful group of technocrats uses
the state apparatus to try to rationalize and develop the economy"
South Korea under Park Chung-hee.
Linz also has identified three other subtypes of authoritarian regime:
corporatist or organic-statistic, racial and ethnic "democracy" and
Corporatist authoritarian regimes "are those in which corporatism
institutions are used extensively by the state to coopt and demobilize
powerful interest groups". This type has been studied most extensively
in Latin America.
Racial and ethnic "democracies" are those in which "certain racial or
ethnic groups enjoy full democratic rights while others are largely or
entirely denied those rights", such as in
South Africa under
Post-totalitarian authoritarian regimes are those in which
totalitarian institutions (such as the party, secret police and
state-controlled mass media) remain, but where "ideological orthodoxy
has declined in favor of routinization, repression has declined, the
state's top leadership is less personalized and more secure, and the
level of mass mobilization has declined substantially". Examples
include the Russian
Federation and Soviet
Eastern bloc states in the
Authoritarian regimes are also sometimes subcategorized by whether
they are personalistic or populist. Personalistic authoritarian
regimes are characterized by arbitrary rule and authority exercised
"mainly through patronage networks and coercion rather than through
institutions and formal rules". Personalistic authoritarian regimes
have been seen in post-colonial Africa. By contrast, populist
authoritarian regimes "are mobilizational regimes in which a strong,
charismatic, manipulative leader rules through a coalition involving
key lower-class groups". Examples include
Egypt under Nasser and
Venezuela under Chávez and
Authoritarianism is characterized by highly concentrated and
centralized power maintained by political repression and the exclusion
of potential challengers. It uses political parties and mass
organizations to mobilize people around the goals of the regime.
Adam Przeworski has theorized that "authoritarian equilibrium rests
mainly on lies, fear and economic prosperity".
Authoritarianism also tends to embrace the informal and unregulated
exercise of political power, a leadership that is "self-appointed and
even if elected cannot be displaced by citizens' free choice among
competitors", the arbitrary deprivation of civil liberties and little
tolerance for meaningful opposition.
A range of social controls also attempt to stifle civil society,
while political stability is maintained by control over and support of
the armed forces, a bureaucracy staffed by the regime and creation of
allegiance through various means of socialization and
Authoritarian political systems may be weakened through "inadequate
performance to demands of the people". Vestal writes that the
tendency to respond to challenges to authoritarianism through tighter
control instead of adaptation is a significant weakness and that this
overly rigid approach fails to "adapt to changes or to accommodate
growing demands on the part of the populace or even groups within the
system". Because the legitimacy of the state is dependent on
performance, authoritarian states that fail to adapt may collapse.
Authoritarianism is marked by "indefinite political tenure" of the
ruler or ruling party (often in a one-party state) or other
authority. The transition from an authoritarian system to a more
democratic form of government is referred to as democratization.
John Duckitt suggests a link between authoritarianism and
collectivism, asserting that both stand in opposition to
individualism. Duckitt writes that both authoritarianism and
collectivism submerge individual rights and goals to group goals,
expectations and conformities.
Authoritarianism and totalitarianism
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Revolutions of 1820
Revolutions of 1830
Revolutions of 1848
Revolution of 1848
Persian Constitutional Revolution
Young Turk Revolution
Revolutions of 1917–23
Revolution of 1918–19
Revolution of 1936
Chinese Communist Revolution
Revolution of 1956
People Power Revolution
Revolutions of 1989
Revolution of 2010
Totalitarianism is an extreme version of authoritarianism.
Authoritarianism primarily differs from totalitarianism in that social
and economic institutions exist that are not under governmental
control. Building on the work of Yale political scientist Juan Linz,
Paul C. Sondrol of the
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has
examined the characteristics of authoritarian and totalitarian
dictators and organized them in a chart:
Leader as function
Leader as individual
Ends of power
Sondrol argues that while both authoritarianism and totalitarianism
are forms of autocracy, as they differ in "key dichotomies":
(1) Unlike their bland and generally unpopular authoritarian brethren,
totalitarian dictators develop a charismatic "mystique" and a
mass-based, pseudo-democratic interdependence with their followers via
the conscious manipulation of a prophetic image.
(2) Concomitant role conceptions differentiate totalitarians from
authoritarians. Authoritarians view themselves as individual beings
largely content to control and often maintain the status quo.
Totalitarian self-conceptions are largely teleological. The tyrant is
less a person than an indispensable function to guide and reshape the
(3) Consequently, the utilisation of power for personal aggrandizement
is more evident among authoritarians than totalitarians. Lacking the
binding appeal of ideology, authoritarians support their rule by a
mixture of instilling fear and granting rewards to loyal
collaborators, engendering a kleptocracy.
Compared to totalitarianism, "the authoritarian state still maintains
a certain distinction between state and society. It is only concerned
with political power and as long as that is not contested it gives
society a certain degree of liberty. Totalitarianism, on the other
hand, invades private life and asphyxiates it". Another
distinction is that "authoritarianism is not animated by utopian
ideals in the way totalitarianism is. It does not attempt to change
the world and human nature".
Carl Joachim Friedrich writes that "a
totalist ideology, a party reinforced by a secret police, and monopoly
control of ... industrial mass society" are the three features of
totalitarian regimes that distinguish them from other autocracies.
Authoritarianism and democracy
Part of a series on
Topics and concepts
Do it yourself
Diogenes of Sinope
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Miguel Giménez Igualada
Hipparchia of Maroneia
H. L. Mencken
John Stuart Mill
Ludwig von Mises
Michel de Montaigne
Horst Matthai Quelle
Marquis de Sade
Henry David Thoreau
James L. Walker
Left-wing market anarchism
Tyranny of the majority
Authoritarianism and democracy are not fundamentally opposed to one
another, as it is possible for democracies to possess authoritarian
elements. An illiberal democracy (or procedural democracy) is
distinguished from liberal democracy (or substantive democracy) in
that illiberal democracies lack features such as the rule of law,
protections for minority groups and an independent judiciary.
A further distinction that liberal democracies have rarely made war
with one another; research has extended the theory and finds that more
democratic countries tend to have few wars (sometimes called
militarized interstate disputes) causing fewer battle deaths with one
another and that democracies have far fewer civil wars.
Some commentators, such as Seymour Martin Lipset, believed that
low-income authoritarian regimes have certain technocratic
"efficiency-enhancing advantages" over low-income democracies, helping
authoritarian regimes generate development. Morton H. Halperin,
Joseph T. Siegle and Michael M. Weinstein (2005) counter this belief,
arguing that the evidence has showed that there is no "authoritarian
advantage" and that there is a "democratic advantage" instead.
Halperin et al. argue that democracies "realize superior development
performance" over authoritarianism. They point out that poor
democracies are more likely to have steadier economic growth and less
likely to experience economic and humanitarian catastrophes than
authoritarian regimes; that civil liberties act as a curb on
corruption and misuse of resources; and that democracies are more
adaptable. Halperin point out that the vast majority of refugee
crises and financial catastrophes occur in authoritarian regimes.
Studies suggest that several health indicators (life expectancy and
infant and maternal mortality) have a stronger and more significant
association with democracy than they have with GDP per capita, size of
the public sector or income inequality. Prominent economist
Amartya Sen has theorized that no functioning liberal democracy has
ever suffered a large-scale famine.
Research shows that the democratic nations have much less democide or
murder by government. Those were also moderately developed nations
before applying liberal democratic policies. Research by the World
Bank suggests that political institutions are extremely important in
determining the prevalence of corruption and that parliamentary
systems, political stability and freedom of the press are all
associated with lower corruption. One study has concluded that
terrorism is most common in nations with intermediate political
freedom. The nations with the least amount of terrorism are the most
and least democratic nations.
Examples of states considered to be authoritarian
There is no precise definition of authoritarianism, but several annual
measurements are attempted, including Freedom House’s annual Freedom
in the World report.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of states which are
currently (or frequently) characterized as authoritarian:
Ilham Aliyev (2003–)
Bahrain under the
House of Khalifa
House of Khalifa (1746–)
Alexander Lukashenko (1994–) on account
of Lukashenko's self-described authoritarian style of
Cambodia under the
Khmer Rouge and
Hun Sen (1985–)
Paul Biya (1982–)
China under the Communist Party of China
(1949–) “Some scholars have deemed the Chinese system a
'fragmented authoritarianism' (Lieberthal), a 'negotiated state' or a
'consultative authoritarian regime'"
Cuba under Fidel and
Raúl Castro (1959–)
Hosni Mubarak (1981–2011) and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Ruhollah Khomeini and
Ali Khamenei (1981–) Linz
wrote in 2000 that "it is difficult to fit the Iranian regime into the
existing typology, as it combines the ideological bent of
totalitarianism with the limited pluralism of authoritarianism and
holds regular elections in which candidates advocating differing
policies and incumbents are often defeated"
Jordan under Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein
Kazakhstan under Nursultan Nazarbayev
Laos under the
Lao People's Revolutionary Party
Lao People's Revolutionary Party (1975–)
Morocco under Mohammed VI
North Korea under the rule of the Kim dynasty and the Korean
Workers' Party (1947–)
Qatar under the House of Thani.
Vladimir Putin (1999–) (see Putinism
for more) has tendencies towards authoritarianism, described as
"really a mixture of authoritarianism and managed
Singapore is considered authoritarian, especially under the Lee
Kuan Yew until 2015.
Saudi Arabia under the
House of Saud
House of Saud (1744–)
Omar al-Bashir (1989–)
Syria under Hafez and
Bashar al-Assad (1970–)
Thailand under General
Prayut Chan-o-cha who overthrew the
democratically elected government of
Yingluck Shinawatra in a military
coup and installed a military junta to oversee the governance of
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2003–) described as a
“competitive authoritarian regime”
Turkmenistan under Saparmurat Nyazow (1991–2006) and
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow (2006–)
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates under the six royal families of the United
Arab Emirates (10 February 1972–)
Uzbekistan under Islam Karimov (1989–2016) and Shavkat
Hugo Chávez and
Nicolás Maduro (1999–)
Vietnam under the
Vietnamese Communist Party
Vietnamese Communist Party (1976–)
Examples of states which were historically authoritarian
Ruling group or person
Revolution period of military rule
Justicialista rule of Juan Perón
Ideology is populist authoritarianism
Free trade and deregulatory rule of Jorge Rafael Videla
National Reorganization Process
National Reorganization Process period of military rule
Estado Novo period
Military government and Socialist Programme Party
Gamal Abdel Nasser,
Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak
António de Oliveira Salazar
António de Oliveira Salazar and Marcelo Caetano
Under Estado Novo regime
Regime ended with the end of apartheid
Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan
Republican People's Party
Systemic weakness and resilience
Andrew J. Nathan
Andrew J. Nathan notes that "regime theory holds that authoritarian
systems are inherently fragile because of weak legitimacy,
overreliance on coercion, overcentralization of decision making, and
the predominance of personal power over institutional norms....Few
authoritarian regimes—be they communist, fascist, corporatist, or
personalist—have managed to conduct orderly, peaceful, timely, and
stable successions". One exception to this general trend is the
endurance of the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party,
which has been unusually resilient among authoritarian regimes. Nathan
posits that this can be attributed to four factors: (1) "the
increasingly norm-bound nature of its succession politics"; (2) "the
increase in meritocratic as opposed to factional considerations in the
promotion of political elites"; (3) "the differentiation and
functional specialization of institutions within the regime"; and (4)
"the establishment of institutions for political participation and
appeal that strengthen the CCP's legitimacy among the public at
Main article: Anti-authoritarianism
World War II
World War II there was a strong sense of anti-authoritarianism
based on anti-fascism in Europe. This was attributed to the active
resistance from occupation and to fears arising from the development
Anti-authoritarianism also became associated with
countercultural and bohemian movements such as the
Beat Generation in
the 1950s, the hippies in the 1960s and punks in the
Gender and authoritarianism
According to a study by Brandt and Henry, there is a direct
correlation between the rates of gender inequality and the levels of
authoritarian ideas in the male and female populations. It was found
that in countries with less gender equality where individualism was
encouraged and men occupied the dominant societal roles, women were
more likely to support traits such as obedience which would allow them
to survive in an authoritarian environment and less likely to
encourage ideas such as independence and imagination. In countries
with higher levels of gender equality, men held less authoritarian
views. It is theorized that this occurs due to the stigma attached to
individuals who question the cultural norms set by the dominant
individuals and establishments in an authoritarian society as a way to
prevent the psychological stress caused by the active ostracizing of
the stigmatized individuals.
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Washington Post, August 24, 2008
Fascism and ideology
Blue Shirts Society
Northern / Northwestern Europe
Ailtirí na hAiséirghe
Black Front (Netherlands)
Breton Social-National Workers' Movement
British People's Party (1939)
British Union of Fascists
Clerical People's Party
Flemish National Union
French Popular Party
General Dutch Fascist League
Imperial Fascist League
National Corporate Party
National Corporate Party (Greenshirts)
Nationalist Party (Iceland)
National Socialist Bloc
National Socialist Dutch Workers Party
National Socialist League
National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands
National Socialist Movement of Norway
National Socialist Workers' Party (Sweden)
New Party (UK)
Patriotic People's Movement (Finland)
Arrow Cross Party
Austrian National Socialism
Fatherland Front (Austria)
Hungarian National Socialist Party
National Front (Switzerland)
Sudeten German Party
Albanian Fascist Party
Democratic Fascist Party
Greek National Socialist Party
Italian Social Republic
National Fascist Party
National Union (Portugal)
Republican Fascist Party
Sammarinese Fascist Party
Eastern and Southeastern Europe
Bulgarian National Socialist Workers Party
Crusade of Romanianism
National Fascist Community
National Fascist Movement
National Italo-Romanian Cultural and Economic Movement
National Social Movement (Bulgaria)
National Radical Camp Falanga
National Romanian Fascio
National Renaissance Front
Russian Fascist Party
Russian Women's Fascist Movement
Slovak People's Party
Union of Bulgarian National Legions
Fascism in Canada
Canadian Union of Fascists
Parti national social chrétien
German American Bund
Silver Legion of America
Falangism in Latin America
Bolivian Socialist Falange
National Socialist Movement of Chile
Nimio de Anquín
Alphonse de Châteaubriant
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Richard Walther Darré
Pierre Drieu La Rochelle
Hans F. K. Günther
Gearóid Ó Cuinneagáin
William Dudley Pelley
José Antonio Primo de Rivera
Rafael Sánchez Mazas
Gonzalo Torrente Ballester
The Doctrine of Fascism
Manifesto of the Fascist Intellectuals
The Myth of the Twentieth Century
Zaveshchanie russkogo fashista
La Conquista del Estado
Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung
Deutsche Zeitung in Norwegen
Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlanden
Je suis partout
La France au travail
Das Schwarze Korps
Il Popolo d'Italia
Der Sieg des Glaubens
Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht
Triumph of the Will
Art of the Third Reich
Nazism and cinema
Chamber of Fasci and Corporations
Grand Council of Fascism
Imperial Way Faction
Italian Nationalist Association
Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen
Fascist Union of Youth
German American Bund
National Youth Organisation (Greece)
Russian Fascist Organization
Union of Fascist Little Ones
Union of Young Fascists – Vanguard (boys)
Union of Young Fascists – Vanguard (girls)
Iron Wolf (organization)
Silver Legion of America
March on Rome
Beer Hall Putsch
Italian economic battles
March of the Iron Will
German federal election, November 1932
German federal election, March 1933
6 February 1934 crisis
1934 Montreux Fascist conference
Spanish Civil War
4th of August Regime
End in Italy
Books about Hitler
British fascist parties
Fascist movements by country (A-F
Speeches by Hitler
Glossary of Nazi Germany
Italianization of South Tyrol
Ku Klux Klan
Unite Against Fascism
Women in Nazi Germany
Authoritarian and totalitarian forms of government
Tyranny of the majority
Forms of government
Progressivism (Progressive conservatism)
Social and political philosophy
Feminist political theory
Mandate of Heaven
Philosophy and economics
Philosophy of education
Philosophy of history
Philosophy of love
Philosophy of sex
Philosophy of social science