An autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of a coup d'état or mass insurrection). Absolute monarchies (such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Brunei and Swaziland) and dictatorships (such as Turkmenistan and North Korea) are the main modern-day forms of autocracy.
In earlier times, the term "autocrat" was coined as a favorable feature of the ruler, having some connection to the concept of "lack of conflicts of interests" as well as an indication of grandeur and power. The Russian Tsar for example was styled, "Autocrat of all the Russians", as late as the early 20th century.
Autocracy comes from the Ancient Greek autós (self) and krátos (power, strength) from Kratos, the Greek personification of authority. In the Medieval Greek language, the term Autocrates was used for anyone holding the title emperor, regardless of the actual power of the monarch. Some historical Slavic monarchs, such as Russian tsars and emperors, included the title Autocrat as part of their official styles, distinguishing them from the constitutional monarchs elsewhere in Europe.
Both totalitarianism and military dictatorship are often identified with, but need not be, an autocracy. Totalitarianism is a system where the state strives to control every aspect of life and civil society. It can be headed by a supreme leader, making it autocratic, but it can also have a collective leadership such as a commune, junta, or single political party.
In an analysis of militarized disputes between two states, if one of the states involved was an autocracy the chance of violence occurring doubled.
Examples from early modern Europe suggests early statehood was favorable for democracy. But, according to Jacob Hariri, outside Europe, history shows that early statehood has led to autocracy. The reasons he gives are: continuation of the original autocratic rule and absence of "institutional transplantation" or European settlement. This may be because of the country's capacity to fight colonization or the presence of state infrastructure that Europeans did not need to build new institutions to rule. In all the cases, representative institutions were unable to get introduced in these countries and they sustained their autocratic rule. European colonization was varied and conditional on many factors. Countries which were rich in natural resources had an extractive and indirect rule, whereas other colonies saw European settlement. Because of this settlement, these countries possibly experienced setting up of new institutions. Colonization also depended on factor endowments and settler mortality.
Mancur Olson theorizes the development of autocracies as the first transition from anarchy to state. Anarchy for Olson is characterized by a number of "roving bandits" who travel around many different geographic areas extorting wealth from local populations leaving little incentive for populations to invest, and produce. As local populations lose the incentive to produce, there is little wealth for either the bandits to steal or the people to use. Olson theorizes autocrats as "stationary bandits" who solve this dilemma by establishing control over a small fiefdom and monopolize the extortion of wealth in the fiefdom in the form of taxes. Once an autocracy is developed, Olson theorizes that both the autocrat and the local population will be better off as the autocrat will have an "encompassing interest" in the maintenance and growth of wealth in the fiefdom. Because violence threatens the creation of rents, the "stationary bandit" has incentives to monopolize violence and to create a peaceful order.
Douglass North, John Joseph Wallis and Barry R. Weingast describe autocracies as limited access orders that arise from this need to monopolize violence. In contrast to Olson, these scholars understand the early state not as a single ruler, but as an organization formed by many actors. They describe the process of autocratic state formation as a bargaining process among individuals with access to violence. For them, these individuals form a dominant coalition that grants each other privileges such as the access to resources. As violence reduces the rents, members of the dominant coalition have incentives to cooperate and to avoid fighting. A limited access to privileges is necessary to avoid competition among the members of the dominant coalition, who then will credibly commit to cooperate and will form the state.
Because autocrats need a power structure to rule, it can be difficult to draw a clear line between historical autocracies and oligarchies. Most historical autocrats depended on their nobles, the military, the priesthood, or other elite groups. Some autocracies are rationalized by assertion of divine right.
According to Douglass North, John Joseph Wallis and Barry R. Weingast, in limited access orders the state is ruled by a dominant coalition formed by a small elite group that relates to each other by personal relationships. In order to remain in power, this elite hinders people outside the dominant coalition to access organizations and resources. Autocracy, then, is maintained as long as the personal relationships of the elite continue to forge the dominant coalition. These scholars further suggest that once the dominant coalition starts to become broader and allow for impersonal relationships, limited access orders can give place to open access orders.
For Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James Robinson, the allocation of political power explains the maintenance of autocracies, which they usually refer to as "extractive states". For them, the de jure political power comes from political institutions, whereas the de facto political power is determined by the distribution of resources. Those holding the political power in the present will design the political and economic institutions in the future according to their interests. In autocracies, both de jure and de facto political powers are concentrated in one person or a small elite that will promote institutions for keeping the de jure political power as concentrated as the de facto political power, thereby maintaining autocratic regimes with extractive institutions.
It has been argued that authoritarian regimes, such as China and Russia, have attempted to export their system of government to other countries through "autocracy promotion". A number of scholars are skeptical that China and Russia have successfully exported authoritarianism abroad.
Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from and is legally bounded or restricted by a constitution or legislature.Some monarchies have weak or symbolic legislatures and other governmental bodies the monarch can alter or dissolve at will. Countries where monarchs still maintain absolute power are: Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Eswatini, Vatican City and the individual emirates composing the United Arab Emirates, which itself is a federation of such monarchies – a federal monarchy.Bloody Sunday (1905)
Bloody Sunday or Red Sunday (Russian: Крова́вое воскресе́нье, tr. Krovávoye voskresén'e, IPA: [krɐˈvavəɪ vəskrʲɪˈsʲenʲjɪ]) is the name given to the events of Sunday, 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1905 in St Petersburg, Russia, when unarmed demonstrators led by Father Georgy Gapon were fired upon by soldiers of the Imperial Guard as they marched towards the Winter Palace to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
Bloody Sunday caused grave consequences for the Tsarist autocracy governing Imperial Russia: the events in St. Petersburg provoked public outrage and a series of massive strikes that spread quickly to the industrial centres of the Russian Empire. The massacre on Bloody Sunday is considered to be the start of the active phase of the Revolution of 1905. In addition to beginning the 1905 Revolution, historians such as Lionel Kochan in his book Russia in Revolution 1890–1918 view the events of Bloody Sunday to be one of the key events which led to the Russian Revolution of 1917.Byzantinism
Byzantinism, or Byzantism, is the political system and culture of the Byzantine Empire, and its spiritual successors, in particular, the Orthodox Christian Balkan countries (Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia) and Orthodox countries in Eastern Europe (Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia). The term byzantinism itself was coined in the 19th century. The term has primarily negative associations, implying complexity and autocracy.
This negative reputation stressed the confusing complexities of the Empire's ministries and the elaborateness of its court ceremonies. Likewise, the "Byzantine system" also suggests a penchant for intrigue, plots and assassinations and an overall unstable political state of affairs. The term has been criticized by modern scholars for being a generalization that is not very representative of the reality of the Byzantine aristocracy and bureaucracy.Chris Metzen
Christopher Vincent Metzen (born November 22, 1973) is an American game designer, artist, voice actor, and author known for his work creating the fictional universes and scripts for Blizzard Entertainment's three major award-winning media franchises: Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft. On occasion, Metzen has published his art under the alias "Thundergod." Metzen was hired by Blizzard Entertainment as an animator and an artist; his first work for the company was with the video game Justice League Task Force.Metzen was the Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development at Blizzard Entertainment and assisted the company's projects by providing voice talent for a number of characters, as well as contributing to artistic character design. Outside Blizzard Entertainment, Metzen authored a graphic novel series based on a futuristic second American civil war. Metzen retired in September 2016 to spend more time with his family.
In his most recent work, Metzen co-authored graphic novels, Transformers: Autocracy and Transformers Monstrosity with author Flint Dille and artist Livio Ramondelli.Comparison of Nazism and Stalinism
A number of authors have carried out comparisons of Nazism and Stalinism, in which they have considered the similarities and differences of the two ideologies and political systems, what relationship existed between the two regimes, and why both of them came to prominence at the same time. During the 20th century, the comparison of Stalinism and Nazism was made on the topics of totalitarianism, ideology, and personality cult. Both regimes were seen in contrast to the liberal West, with an emphasis on the similarities between the two. The political scientists Zbigniew Brzezinski, Hannah Arendt and Carl Friedrich and historian Robert Conquest were prominent advocates of applying the "totalitarian" concept to compare Nazism and Stalinism.Despotism
Despotism (Greek: Δεσποτισμός, despotismós) is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. Normally, that entity is an individual, the despot, as in an autocracy, but societies which limit respect and power to specific groups have also been called despotic.Colloquially, the word despot applies pejoratively to those who abuse their power and authority to oppress their populace, subjects, or subordinates. More specifically, the term often applies to a head of state or government. In this sense, it is similar to the pejorative connotations that are associated with the terms tyrant and dictator.Enlightened absolutism
Enlightened absolutism (also called enlightened despotism or benevolent despotism) refers to the conduct and policies of European absolute monarchs during the 18th and 19th centuries who were influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, espousing them to enhance their power. The concept originated during the Enlightenment period in the 18th and into the early 19th centuries.
An enlightened despot is a non-democratic or authoritarian leader who exercises their political power for the benefit of the people, rather than exclusively for themselves or elites.
Enlightened despots distinguished themselves from ordinary despots by claiming to rule for their subjects' well-being. They may focus government priorities on healthcare, education, nonviolent population control, or physical infrastructure. The leader may profess a commitment to peaceful relations and/or allow some democratic decision-making, such as public referenda, but would not propose reforms that undermined their sovereignty or disrupted the social order. Some people say that despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement.Enlightened despots' beliefs about royal power were typically similar to those of regular despots, both believing that they were destined to rule. Enlightened rulers may have played a part in the abolition of serfdom in Europe.The enlightened despot Emperor Joseph II of Austria summarized, "Everything for the people, nothing by the people".Government
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government is a means by which organizational policies are enforced, as well as a mechanism for determining policy. Each government has a kind of constitution, a statement of its governing principles and philosophy. Typically the philosophy chosen is some balance between the principle of individual freedom and the idea of absolute state authority (tyranny).
While all types of organizations have governance, the word government is often used more specifically to refer to the approximately 200 independent national governments on Earth, as well as subsidiary organizations.Historically prevalent forms of government include monarchy, aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, theocracy and tyranny. The main aspect of any philosophy of government is how political power is obtained, with the two main forms being electoral contest and hereditary succession.Guided democracy
Guided democracy, also called managed democracy, is a formally democratic government that functions as a de facto autocracy. Such governments are legitimized by elections that are free and fair, but do not change the state's policies, motives, and goals.In other words, the government controls elections so that the people can exercise all their rights without truly changing public policy. While they follow basic democratic principles, there can be major deviations towards authoritarianism. Under managed democracy, the state's continuous use of propaganda techniques prevents the electorate from having a significant impact on policy.The concept of a "guided democracy" was developed in the 20th century by Walter Lippmann in his seminal work Public Opinion (1922) and by Edward Bernays in his work Crystallizing Public Opinion.
After World War II, the term was used in Indonesia for the approach to government under the Sukarno administration from 1957 to 1966. It is today widely employed in Russia, where it was introduced into common practice by Kremlin theorists, in particular Gleb Pavlovsky. Princeton University professor Sheldon Wolin describes this process as inverted totalitarianism.
An important distinction is the one between governments that have elections which are judged not free or fair by observers and governments which have elections considered both free and fair. The Russian Federation under Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev has also been described as an illiberal democracy. Elections take place regularly, but many foreign observers (e.g. from the OSCE) do not consider them free or fair. Thirteen Russian journalists were assassinated between 2000 and 2003. Furthermore, most major television networks and newspapers are owned or controlled by the government and only openly support current government and state approved parties and candidates during elections.Hyderabad State
Hyderabad State (pronunciation ), also known as Hyderabad Deccan, was an Indian princely state located in the south-central region of India with its capital at the city of Hyderabad. It is now divided into Telangana state, Hyderabad-Karnataka region of Karnataka and Marathwada region of Maharashtra.
The state was ruled from 1724 to 1857 by the Nizam who was initially a viceroy of the Great Mogul in the Deccan.
Hyderabad gradually became the first princely state to come under British paramountcy signing a subsidiary alliance agreement.Later, under the leadership of Asaf Jah V it changed its traditional heraldic flag. The dynasty declared itself an independent monarchy during the final years of the British Raj.
After the Partition of India, Hyderabad tried to be a part of Pakistan but signed a standstill agreement with the new dominion of India, continuing all previous arrangements except for the stationing of Indian troops in the state. Hyderabad's location in the middle of the Indian union, as well as its diverse cultural heritage, was a driving force behind India's invasion and annexation of the state in 1948. Subsequently, Mir Osman Ali Khan, the 7th Nizam, signed an instrument of accession, joining India.Law enforcement in Nepal
The Nepalese Police Force is the national police of Nepal. It is independent of the Nepalese Army. Although once brought under the Army in the name of "Unified Command", it is taken as a force separate from the Army.
In the days of its establishment, Nepal Police personnel were mainly drawn from the armed forces of the Nepali Congress Party which fought against feudal Rana autocracy in Nepal.Liberal autocracy
A liberal autocracy is a non-democratic government that follows the principles of liberalism. Until the 20th century, most countries in Western Europe were "liberal autocracies, or at best, semi-democracies". One example of a "classic liberal autocracy" was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. According to Fareed Zakaria, a more recent example is Hong Kong until 1 July 1997, which was ruled by the British Crown. He says that until 1991 "it had never held a meaningful election, but its government epitomized constitutional liberalism, protecting its citizens' basic rights and administering a fair court system and bureaucracy". Friedrich Hayek contended that the regime of Augusto Pinochet in Chile was also a liberal autocracy, claiming that he had "not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet than it had been under Allende". However, the historical record and many accounts by other observers indicate otherwise, citing the human rights abuses and suppression of civil society that occurred during Pinochet's rule.
The existence of real liberties in many of these autocracies is very questionable. For instance, 19th century autocracies often abolished feudal institutions like serfdom, guilds, privileges for the nobility and inequality before the law, but freedom of speech and freedom of association were at best limited. As such, liberal autocracy often preceded various forms of electoral democracy in the evolution of these nations, being much more open than feudal monarchies, but less free than modern liberal democracies. Hong Kong is arguably a special case, where during the latter stages of British colonial rule there was considerable freedom of speech and freedom of association, but also the common knowledge that China would not allow an independent state with free elections. It was also suggested that since 2005 Egypt has been leaning towards liberal autocracyOrthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality
Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality (Russian: Правосла́вие, самодержа́вие, наро́дность, Pravoslávie, samoderzhávie, naródnost'), also known as Official Nationality, was the dominant ideological doctrine of Russian emperor Nicholas I. It was "the Russian version of a general European ideology of restoration and reaction" that followed the Napoleonic Wars."The Triad" of Official Nationality was originally proposed by Minister of Education Sergey Uvarov in his April 2, 1833 circular letter to subordinate educators. It was soon embraced by Nicholas and his establishment and gained wide public recognition, vocally supported by intellectuals like Mikhail Pogodin, Fyodor Tyutchev and Nikolai Gogol.Critics of the policy saw this principle as a call for Russification. Yet the very fact of its existence, being Russia's first statewide political ideology since the 16th century, indicated the nation's brewing transition to modernity.Polity data series
The Polity data series is a widely used data series in political science research. The latest version, Polity IV, contains coded annual information on the level of democracy for most independent states with greater than 500,000 total population and covers the years 1800–2018. Polity's conclusions about a state's level of democracy are based on an evaluation of that state's elections for competitiveness and openness, the nature of political participation in general, and the extent of checks on executive authority. For each year and country, a "Polity Score" is determined which ranges from -10 to +10, with -10 to -6 corresponding to autocracies, -5 to 5 corresponding to anocracies, and 6 to 10 to democracies.
The Polity study was initiated in the late 1960s by Ted Robert Gurr; it is now continued by Gurr's former student, Monty G. Marshall, and sponsored by the Political Instability Task Force (PITF). The PITF is funded by the Central Intelligence Agency.The 2002 paper "Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy" claimed several problems with commonly used democracy rankings, including Polity, opining that the criteria used to determine "democracy" were misleadingly narrow.Princeps
Princeps (plural: principes) is a Latin word meaning "first in time or order; the first, foremost, chief, the most eminent, distinguished, or noble; the first man, first person". As a title, "princeps" originated in the Roman Republic wherein the leading member of the Senate was designated princeps senatus. It is primarily associated with the Roman emperors as an unofficial title first adopted by Augustus in 23 BC. Its use in this context continued until the reign of Diocletian at the end of the third century. He preferred the title of dominus, meaning "lord" or "master". As a result, the Roman Empire from Augustus to Diocletian is termed the "principate" (principatus) and from Diocletian onwards as the "dominate" (dominatus). Other historians define the reign of Augustus to Severus Alexander as the Principate, and the period afterwards as the "Autocracy".The medieval title "Prince" is a derivative of princeps.Strongman (politics)
A strongman is a political leader who rules by force and runs an autocracy or authoritarian regime or totalitarian regime. The term is often used interchangeably with "dictator" in the western world, but differs from a "warlord" and commonly lacks the negative connotations especially in some Eastern European and Central Asian countries.
A strongman is not necessarily always a formal head of state or head of government; sometimes journalists use the term to describe a military or political figure who exercises far more influence over the government than a local constitution allows. General Manuel Noriega, for example, was often dubbed the "Strongman of Panama" for the enormous amount of political power he exercised over Panama, although he was not the formal president or prime minister of the state. In practice, his role was that of a dictator, or sometimes autocrat.The Autocracy of Mr. Parham
The Autocracy of Mr. Parham is a novel by H. G. Wells. It was originally published in both Britain and America with illustrations by the British cartoonist Low (David Low).
The U.S. edition carried the subtitle His Remarkable Adventures in This Changing World. It was one of the first twenty "dollar books" from Doubleday, Doran & Co., released together 20 June 1930. (It was listed first in a newspaper advertisement that day, and subsequently numbered '1' in advertisement of all the dollar books with a simple numerical order form.) The U.K. edition from Heinemann was available 21 July 1930.A German translation by Helene Maria Reiff was published by Paul Zsolnay of Berlin in 1931, Der Diktator oder Mr. Parham wird allmächtig (The Dictator).The Bulpington of Blup
The Bulpington of Blup, a 1932 novel by H. G. Wells, is a character study analyzing the psychological sources of resistance to Wellsian ideology, and was influenced by Wells's acquaintance with Carl Gustav Jung and his ideas.
The inner life of the protagonist, Theodore Bulpington, is dominated by a complex he calls "The Bulpington of Blup." This self-regarding, romantic, heroic personality comes over time to dominate his existence, falsifying his relations with the world. Theodore Bulpington develops into a pretentious fraud who finally affirms a modus vivendi of falsehood: "I am a lie. I accept it. I am a liar in a world of lies." The novel is also of interest for its extended analysis of psychological responses to World War I.The life of Ford Madox Ford inspired some aspects of the novel. The Bulpington of Blup is dedicated to Odette Keun, Wells's lover from 1924 to 1933.
Like Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island and The Autocracy of Mr. Parham, The Bulpington of Blup did not sell as well as Wells's earlier novels; these are now among his "least read books," according to biographer David Smith. Wells believed that the novel was as good as Kipps, but critics have not shared this view.Tsarist autocracy
Tsarist autocracy (Russian: царское самодержавие, transcr. tsarskoye samoderzhaviye) is a form of autocracy (later absolute monarchy) specific to the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which later became Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire. In it, all power and wealth is controlled (and distributed) by the Tsar. They had more power than constitutional monarchs, who are usually vested by law and counterbalanced by a legislative authority; they even had more authority on religious issues compared to Western monarchs. In Russia, it originated during the time of Ivan III (1440−1505), and was abolished after the Russian Revolution of 1917.