Authoritarianism describes a
form of governmentcharacterized by an emphasis on the authorityof the statein a republic or union.
Theodore M. Vestal of
Oklahoma State Universityhas written that authoritarianism is characterized by:
*"Highly concentrated and centralized power structures," in which
political poweris generated and maintained by a "repressive system that excludes potential challengers" and uses political parties and mass organizations to "mobilize people around the goals of the government";"Vestal, Theodore M. " [http://books.google.com/books?id=XWXtXOl56KkC&c Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War African State] ". Greenwood, 1999, p. 17.]
principles: "1) rule of men, not rule of law; 2) rigged elections; 3) all important political decisions made by unelected officials behind closed doors; 4) a bureaucracyoperated quite independently of rules, the supervision of elected officials, or concerns of the constituencies they purportedly serve; 5) the informal and unregulated exercise of political power";
*Leadership that is "self-appointed and even if elected cannot be displaced by citizens' free choice among competitors" 6). Modern Democracy
*No guarantee of
civil libertiesor tolerance for meaningful opposition;
civil society: "No freedom to create a broad range of groups, organizations, and political parties to compete for power or question the decisions of rulers," with instead an "attempt to impose controls on virtually all elements of society"; and
*Political stability maintained by "control over and support of the
militaryto provide security to the system and control of society; 2) a pervasive bureaucracy staffed by the regime; 3) control of internal opposition and dissent; 4) creation of allegiancethrough various means of socialization."
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
adaptationis 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 single-party state) or other authority. The transition from an authoritarian system to a democratic one is referred to as democratization.
John Duckitt of the
University of the Witwatersrandhas suggests a link between authoritarianism and collectivism, asseritng that both are in opposition to individualism. [cite journal|author=John Duckitt|title=Authoritarianism and group identification: A new view of an old construct|year=1989|journal=Political Psychology|volume=10|issue=9|pages=63–84|doi=10.2307/3791588] Duckitt writes that both authoritarianism and collectivism submerge individual rightsand goals to group goals, expectations and conformities. [cite journal|author=Markus Kemmelmeier et al.|title=Individualism, Collectivism, and Authoritarianism in Seven Societies|year=2003|journal=Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology|volume=34|issue=3|pages=304–322|doi=10.1177/0022022103034003005] Others argue that collectivism, properly defined, is based on consensus decision-making, the opposite of authoritarianism.
Authoritarianism and totalitarianism
Totalitarianismis generally considered to be an extreme version of authoritarianism. Paul C. Sondrol of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springshas examined the characteristics of authoritarian and totalitarian dictators and organized them in a chart:"Sondrol, Paul C. "Totalitarian and Authoritarian Dictators: A Comparison of Fidel Castro and Alfredo Stroessner." " Journal of Latin American Studies" 23(3): October 1991, pp. 449-620.]
Sodrol argues that the while both authoritarians and totalitarianism are forms of
autocracy, they differ in "key dichotomies":
Thus, compared to totalitarian systems, authoritarian systems may also leave a larger sphere for private life, lack a guiding ideology, tolerate some pluralism in social organization, lack the power to mobilize the whole population in pursuit of national goals, and exercise their power within relatively predictable limits.
Regimes commonly labeled totalitarian include Nazi Germany; the Soviet Union under Stalin; fascist Italyby Benito Mussolini; the People's Republic of China under Mao; Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, the leadership of Nicolae Ceauşescu(1968-1989) in Communist Romania; the ledadership of Enver Hoxha(1946-1985) in Albania; Iraqunder Saddam Hussein(1979-2003); The Gaddafiregime in Libya; and North Koreacontinuing onto this day.
Regimes often labeled authoritarian include
Spain under Franco; Argentinaunder Juan Peron; Yugoslavia under Tito; the Soviet Unionpost-Stalin; the post-Mao People's Republic of China; Imperial Japanunder Hideki Tojoand his militarist regime during WWII; Cubaunder Fulgencio Batistaand Fidel Castro; Indonesia under Suharto; various countries during White Terrorstages, including Taiwanunder Chiang Kai-shek; South Korea pre-1987; The Augusto Pinochetmilitarist regime in Chile(1973-1990); East Germanyunder Erich Honecker(1971-1989); Greek military junta of 1967–1974; Serbiaunder Slobodan Milosevic(1989-2000); Malaysia; and Singapore.
Authoritarianism and democracy
Democracies may be considered authoritarian. An
illiberal democracy(or procedural democracy) is distinguished from liberal democracy(or substantive democracy) in that illiberal democracies lack some democratic features, such as the rule of law, an independent judiciary, separation of powers, civilian control of the military, freedom of expressionand assembly, and freedom from censorship. The central characteristic of an illiberal democracy is that institutional political processes are skewed in favor of the incumbent regime. Opposition may be dealt with by means of onerous regulations on political organizations in civil society, unfair electoral processes (such as barriers to ballot accessor extensive gerrymandering), manipulation of the media (either by ignoring or distorting opposition, or by biased coverage of opposition, often in state-owned press or oligarchical MSM). Illiberal democracy has also been termed " electoralism" or "soft authoritarianism."
There are many theories criticizing authoritarianism, most of which at the same time support democracy:
*Numerous studies using many different kinds of data, definitions, and statistical analyses have found support for the democratic peace theory. The original finding was that liberal democracies have never made war with one another. More recent research has extended the theory and finds that democracies have few
Militarized Interstate Disputescausing less than 1000 battle deaths with one another, that those MIDs that have occurred between democracies have caused few deaths, and that democracies have few civil wars. [cite journal |author=Hegre, Håvard, Tanja Ellington, Scott Gates, and Nils Petter Gleditsch |title=Towards A Democratic Civil Peace? Opportunity, Grievance, and Civil War 1816-1992 |journal=American Political Science Review |year=2001 |volume=95 |pages=33–48|url=http://www.worldbank.org/research/conflict/papers/peace.htm cite book |author=Ray, James Lee |title= [http://sitemason.vanderbilt.edu/files/g/gDf5Ty/6%20ray%20demo%20peace%20FIRST%20PROOFS.pdf A Lakatosian View of the Democratic Peace Research Program] From Progress in International Relations Theory, edited by Colin and Miriam Fendius Elman |publisher=MIT Press |year=2003 |id= ]
*Poor liberal democracies tend to have better education, longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, access to drinking water, and better health care than poor dictatorships. This is not due to higher levels of foreign assistance or spending a larger percentage of
GDPon health and education. Instead, the available resources are more likely to be managed better. cite web |title=The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace |work=Carnegie Council |url=http://carnegiecouncil.org/viewMedia.php/prmTemplateID/9/prmID/5129]
*Studies suggest that everal health indicators (life expectancy and infant and maternal mortality) has a stronger and more significant association with liberal democracy than they have with
GDPper capita, size of the public sector, or income inequality. [ cite journal |author=Franco, Álvaro, Carlos Álvarez-Dardet and Maria Teresa Ruiz |title=Effect of democracy on health: ecological study (required) |journal=BMJ (British Medical Journal) |year=2004 |volume=329 |issue=7480 |pages=1421 –1423 |url=http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=535957
doi=10.1136/bmj.329.7480.1421 | pmid=15604165 ]
*In the post-Communist nations, after an initial decline, those most democratic have achieved the greatest gains in life expectancy.Although it must be noted that must were also the most developed states from the ex URSS before its end. [cite journal |author=McKee, Marin and Ellen Nolte |title=Lessons from health during the transition from communism |journal=BMJ (British Medical Journal) |year=2004 |volume=329 |issue=7480 |pages=1428 –1429 |url=http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=535963
doi=10.1136/bmj.329.7480.1428 | pmid= 15604170 ]
*A prominent economist,
Amartya Sen, has theorized that no functioning democracy has ever suffered a large scale famine. [ Amartya Sen, (1999). [http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/jod/10.3sen.html "Democracy as a Universal Value"] . "Journal of Democracy", 10.3, 3-17. Johns Hopkins University Press.] This includes democracies that have not been very prosperous historically, like India, which had its last great famine in 1943 and many other large scale famines before that in the late nineteenth century, all under British rule. However, some others ascribe the Bengal famine of 1943to the effects of World War IIFact|date=February 2007. The government of India had been becoming progressively more democratic for years. Provincial government had been entirely so since the Government of India Act of 1935.
*Refugee crises almost always occur in nondemocracies. Looking at the volume of refugee flows for the last twenty years, the first eighty-seven cases occurred in autocracies. [cite web |title=The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace |work=Carnegie Council |url=http://carnegiecouncil.org/viewMedia.php/prmTemplateID/9/prmID/5129]
*Research shows that the liberal democratic nations have much less
democideor murder by government.However it should be noted that those were also moderately developed nations before applying liberal policies. ["Power Kills". R. J. Rummel, 1997.] Similarly, they have less genocideand politicide. [ "No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust?", Barbara Harff, 2003, [http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/inscr/genocide/] .]
*Liberal democracies are more often associated with a higher average self-reported happiness in a nation. [cite paper |author=R Inglehart, HD Klingemann |title=Genes, Culture, Democracy, and Happiness |publisher=World Values Survey |date=1999 R.J. Rummel, (2006). [http://freedomspeace.blogspot.com/2006/02/happiness-this-utilitarian-argument.html Happinessndash This Utilitarian Argument For Freedom Is True] . Accessed
February 22, 2006. ]
*Research by the
World Banksuggests that political institutions are extremely important in determining the prevalence of corruption: democracy, parliamentary systems, political stability, and freedom of the press are all associated with lower corruption. [ Daniel Lederman, Normal Loaza, Rodrigo Res Soares, (November 2001). [http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=632777 "Accountability and Corruption: Political Institutions Matter"] . "World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2708". SSRN 632777. Accessed February 19, 2006.] Freedom of information legislationis important for accountabilityand transparency. The Indian Right to Information Act"has already engendered mass movements in the country that is bringing the lethargic, often corrupt bureaucracy to its knees and changing power equations completely." [ [http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=52046 AsiaMedia :: Right to Information Act India's magic wand against corruption ] ]
*In the last forty-five years,the African countries poor democracies have grown their economies more rapidly than nondemocracies of the same continent.
*Of the eighty worst financial catastrophes during the last four decades, only five were in democracies. Similarly, poor democracies are half likely as nondemocracies to experience a 10 percent decline in GDP per capita over the course of a single year.
*Several studies have concluded that terrorism is most common in nations with intermediate political freedom. The nations with the least terrorism are the most democratic nations [ [http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2004/11.04/05-terror.html Harvard Gazette: Freedom squelches terrorist violence ] ] .
* [http://www.willyhoops.com/democracy-authoritarianism.htm Not The End Of History? Democracy vs Authoritarianism Debated]
* [http://ajayshahblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/authoritarianism-20.html Authoritarianism 2.0]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/feb/12/autocracyonthemarch Autocracy on the march] "guardian.co.uk.", February 12, 2008
* [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4bd4868e-6806-11dd-8d3b-0000779fd18c.html The new age of authoritarianism]
Chrystia Freeland, "Financial Times", August 12, 2008
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/22/AR2008082202395_pf.html Are we entering the age of the autocrat?]
Francis Fukuyama, "Washington Post", August 24, 2008
* [http://www.acunu.org/millennium/sof2006.html UN University "Annual "State of the Future" Report": including discussion on how genuine democracy can emerge from former states of authoritarian regimes]
* [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/616526bc-3178-11dd-b77c-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1 Useful dos and don’ts for fast economic growth]
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