Authoritarianism

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Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is opposed to individualism and democracy. In politics, an authoritarian government is one in which political power is concentrated in a leader or leaders, typically unelected by the people, who possess exclusive, unaccountable, and arbitrary power.[1][2]

Contents

Characteristics

Theodore M. Vestal of Oklahoma State University–Stillwater has written that authoritarianism is characterized by:

  • "Highly concentrated and centralized power structures" in which political power is 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";[3]
  • The following principles:[3]
    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 bureaucracy operated 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"[citation needed]
  • No guarantee of civil liberties or tolerance for meaningful opposition;[3]
  • Weakening of 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";[3]
  • Political stability maintained by "control over and support of the military to 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 allegiance through various means of socialization."

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