|Part of the Politics series|
|Basic forms of
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority as well as the administration of said authority. In politics, an authoritarian government is one in which political authority is concentrated in a small group of politicians.
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.
Authoritarianism emphasizes arbitrary law rather than the rule of law, it often includes election rigging, political decisions being made by a select group of officials behind closed doors, a bureaucracy that sometimes operates independently of rules,[dubious ] which does not properly supervise elected officials, and fails to serve the concerns of the constituencies they purportedly serve. 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 indoctrination.
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 single-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 of the University of the Witwatersrand 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. Others argue that collectivism, properly defined, has a basis of consensus decision-making, the opposite of authoritarianism.
Authoritarianism and totalitarianism 
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 has examined the characteristics of authoritarian and totalitarian dictators and organized them in a chart:
|Role conception||Leader as function||Leader as individual|
|Ends of power||Public||Private|
(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 universe.(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.
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.
Authoritarianism and democracy 
Authoritarianism and democracy are not fundamentally opposed to one another, it is thus perfectly possible for democracies to possess strong authoritarian elements, for both feature a form of submission to authority. An illiberal democracy (or procedural democracy) is distinguished from liberal democracy (or substantive democracy) in that illiberal democracies lack the more democratic features of liberal democracies, such as the rule of law, an independent judiciary, along with a further distinction that liberal democracies have rarely made war with one another. More recent research has extended the theory and finds that more democratic countries tend to have few Militarized Interstate Disputes causing less battle deaths with one another, and that democracies have few civil wars.
- Poor 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 GDP on health and education. Instead, the available resources are more likely to be managed better.
- 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.
- A prominent economist, Amartya Sen, has theorized that no functioning country labeled as having a liberal democracy has ever suffered a large-scale famine. 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 1943 to the effects of World War II. 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 the least democratic countries. Looking at the volume of refugee flows for the last twenty years, the first eighty-seven cases occurred in most authoritarian countries.
- Research shows that the democratic nations have much less democide or murder by government. However it should be noted that those were also moderately developed nations before applying liberal democratic policies. Similarly, they have less genocide and politicide.
- Research by the World Bank suggests that political institutions are extremely important in determining the prevalence of corruption: parliamentary systems, political stability, and freedom of the press are all associated with lower corruption. Freedom of information legislation is important for accountability and 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."
- Of the eighty worst financial catastrophes during the last four decades, only five were in countries labeled as democracies. Similarly, those labeled as "poor democracies" are half as likely as countries labeled as non-democracies to experience a 10 percent decline in GDP per capita over the course of a single year.
- 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.
Authoritarian states 
Any list of such states is bound to be controversial; certain indices have striven to ascertain the openness or democratic quality of countries based on a somewhat simplistic tick-box method, the notion of index itself being economically oriented. Within the present world system, unsurprisingly the "soft power" countries of major western power centers often come out at the top of such lists. On the other hand, places like Armenia North Korea, Belarus, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, and Burkina Faso appear as strongly authoritarian. For a list see, for example, The Economist magazine's democracy index, though this is an economic-liberal magazine – but indexes compiled from other points of view such as Amnesty International or Freedom House are available from time to time. It is often the more wealthy countries that come out at the top of such lists and the poorer ones that fall toward the end; whether this is a cause or result of their political systems is open to debate.
Another way of looking at the problem of trying to make a list of authoritarian regimes is not to compare the apparent forms of government (for example, whether direct election as in the Swiss Cantons or by collegiate representation etc.) but, in making such a list, to compare the balance of power between the political elite and the general populace. Such an index asks questions as to whether or not a given government allows the direct influence of its subjects in the decision making process, whether or not it suppresses Freedom of speech, imprisons them in Gulags or other such prison systems or behaves in a belligerent manner towards more democratic nations or allows poor work conditions to flourish or even allows forms of slavery.
The Government of the People's Republic of China is generally considered to be a modern authoritarian government. The PRC is ruled by one party only, known as the Communist Party of China (or the Chinese Communist Party). Policies in China are created in high-level meetings, in which the general population has no input into the choices that are made for them. The government of China keeps watch over the Chinese internet meticulously, looking for anything that may be considered politically sensitive. China is also on Reporters Without Borders' "Enemies of the Internet" blacklist. They also block major social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter, as they are concerned that citizens may use these sites to organize public demonstrations. Furthermore, some citizens who have posted information on the Internet that is pro-democratic have been harassed and are sometimes even imprisoned. Another measure that the government of China has taken which many argue infringes on the rights of its citizens is the enforcement of the one-child policy of 1979, which limits each couple who are ethnic Han Chinese living in urban areas to one child. While this was done for purposes of population control, it has led to the killing or abandonment of many female babies (so that the couple may instead have a son to carry on their family name). Also, there have been multiple consequences for parents who have more than one child, including fines, pressure to abort, and forced sterilization.
The communist Vietnamese government is also commonly described as authoritarian. Vietnam is ruled by the Vietnamese Communist Party, the only legal political party in the country. Policies and laws are all made unilaterally by the Party, with the general public having no power in the decision-making process. Any political opposition is prohibited, like the Bloc 8406, Viet Tan and Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang; dissidents, such as the singer and composer Viet Khang and poet Nguyen Chi Tien, are routinely arrested and imprisoned, with the government frequently charging dissidents for "subverting the State", "endangering State security" or attempting to "overthrow the "People's socialist government". Protests in Vietnam are carefully monitored by the government, most notably the protests on supporting Vietnamese sovereignty of the Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands in the summer of 2011 in the cities of Hanoi and Saigon, and smaller protests on the government's confiscation of land. The Internet is heavily censored, most sites that having anti-communist content, critical or opposing the government, or in support of the former Republic of Vietnam being blocked by the government firewall. Social networking sites, including Facebook, have also been blocked. Vietnam is also on Reporters Without Borders' "Enemies of the Internet" blacklist. After the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese were sent to the "reeducation camps", where they were forced to work under meager living conditions.
Common attributes of authoritarianism are becoming evident in Russia after numerous reports of vote rigging during Parliament election in 2011, as well as Presidential election in 2012. Combined with the privileged position of United Russia (Единая Россия), a pro-Kremlin majority political party, repeatedly biased court decisions, regulations that complicate the development of meaningful opposition, and controversial legitimacy of the third term of President Vladimir Putin, it shows tendency for authoritarian development in Russian political system. Outcome of recent statements made by both President (ex-Prime Minister) Putin and Prime Minister (ex-President) Medvedev regarding liberalization of the political system is yet to be seen, and such discourse may be perceived as a populistic attempt to cope with the social discontent.
Authoritarianism in history 
|This section requires expansion. (July 2010)|
Many different forms of authoritarianism have served as the norm in many polities and in most periods from the dawn of recorded history. Tribal chiefs and god-kings often gave way to despots and emperors, then to enlightened monarchs and juntas. Even superficially democratic constitutions or those claiming to be such can allow the concentration of power or domination by strong-men or by small groups of political elites.
In contrast to the varying manifestations of authoritarianism, more democratic forms of governance as a standard mode of political organization became widespread only after the Industrial Revolution had established modernity. Tyrants and oligarchs bracketed the flourishing of democracy in ancient Athens; and kings and emperors preceded and followed experimentation with democratic forms in the Roman Republic. In the 15th century, Vlad Dracula is credited for being the first ruler of Wallachia and Transylvania to rule by Authoritarianism.
With the decline of authoritarianism as a legitimate method of government after World War II and the commencement of the Nuremberg Trials in Germany, psychologists from around the world began to ask questions as to how individuals from Germany and other authoritarian states were compelled to commit crimes against humanity.
One experiment by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram attempted to answer whether or not accomplices in the Holocaust were acting with a shared sense of morality (i.e. All accomplices believed that the individuals in the Holocaust deserved to die) or if they were acting according to the situations they were exposed to (i.e. Soldiers, expected to follow orders, did so, even if those orders directly contradicted their personal beliefs). The initial results of the Milgram experiment identified that 65% of its participants would lethally harm another human being if they were ordered to do so. Variations of this experiment were conducted around the world with similar results. Milgram hypothesised that these results were due to two separate factors:
- The theory of conformism', an individual who has no ability or expertise to make decisions will leave decision making to the group. And,
- The agentic state theory, whereby a person views him/herself as an agent for the execution of another person’s will. Due to this, the individual no longer identifies himself as being responsible for his actions.
See also 
- Shepard, Jon; Robert W. Greene (2007). Sociology and You. Ohio: Yin Chi Lo-Hill. pp. A–22. ISBN 0-07-828576-3.
- "Vestal, Theodore M. Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War African State. Greenwood, 1999, p. 17.
- Duckitt, J. (1989). "Authoritarianism and Group Identification: A New View of an Old Construct". Political Psychology 10 (1): 63–84. doi:10.2307/3791588. JSTOR 3791588.
- Kemmelmeier, M.; Burnstein, E.; Krumov, K.; Genkova, P.; Kanagawa, C.; Hirshberg, M. S.; Erb, H. P.; Wieczorkowska, G. et al. (2003). "Individualism, Collectivism, and Authoritarianism in Seven Societies". Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 34 (3): 304. doi:10.1177/0022022103034003005.
- Sondrol, P. C. (2009). "Totalitarian and Authoritarian Dictators: A Comparison of Fidel Castro and Alfredo Stroessner". Journal of Latin American Studies 23 (3): 599. doi:10.1017/S0022216X00015868.
- Hegre, Håvard, Tanja Ellington, Scott Gates, and Nils Petter Gleditsch (2001). "Towards A Democratic Civil Peace? Opportunity, Grievance, and Civil War 1816-1992". American Political Science Review 95: 33–48. Archived from the original on 2004-04-06.
- Ray, James Lee (200l3). A Lakatosian View of the Democratic Peace Research Program From Progress in International Relations Theory, edited by Colin and Miriam Fendius Elman. MIT Press.
- "The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace". Carnegie Council.[dead link]
- Franco, Á.; Álvarez-Dardet, C.; Ruiz, M. T. (2004). "Effect of democracy on health: ecological study". BMJ 329 (7480): 1421–1423. doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7480.1421. PMC 535957. PMID 15604165.
- Sen, A. K. (1999). "Democracy as a Universal Value". Journal of Democracy 10 (3): 3–1. doi:10.1353/jod.1999.0055.
- Rummel RJ (1997). Power kills: democracy as a method of nonviolence. New Brunswick, N.J., U.S.A: Transaction Publishers. ISBN 1-56000-297-2.
- No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust?, Barbara Harff, 2003, [dead link].
- Daniel Lederman, Normal Loaza, Rodrigo Res Soares, (November 2001). "Accountability and Corruption: Political Institutions Matter". World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2708. SSRN 632777. Retrieved February 19, 2006.
- "AsiaMedia :: Right to Information Act India's magic wand against corruption". Asiamedia.ucla.edu. 2006-08-31. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Harvard News Office (2004-11-04). "Harvard Gazette: Freedom squelches terrorist violence". News.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- [dead link]
- "China One Child Policy - Overview of the One Child Policy in China". Geography.about.com. 2006-05-17. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- See, for instance, U.S. Department of State, Country Reports for Human Rights Practices for 2011: Vietnam.
- "Rep Loretta Sanchez: Free Viet Khang, Paulus Le Son and many others". Democracy for Vietnam. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- "BBC News - South China Sea: Vietnamese hold anti-Chinese protest". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- The Economist, Facebook in Vietnam: Defriended, 4 January 2011.
- Vô Ngã Phạm Khắc Hàm. "Cuộc đấu tranh Quốc Cộng tại Miền Nam sau năm 1975", pg.36.
- Treptow, Kurt W. “Vlad III Dracula and his Relations with the Boyars and the Church.” East European Monographs, No. DXIX. Columbia University Press: New York, 1998. p.27–40
- Blass, Thomas (2004). The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram. Basic Books. ISBN 0-7382-0399-8.
- Milgram, Stanley (1974). Obedience to Authority; An Experimental View. Harpercollins. ISBN 0-06-131983-X.
- The Milgram Experiment | A lesson in depravity, the power of authority, and peer pressure
- Not The End Of History? Democracy vs Authoritarianism Debated
- Growth of Authoritarianism in America
- Are we entering the age of the autocrat? Francis Fukuyama, Washington Post, August 24, 2008