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|Basic forms of
- A Roman dictator was the incumbent of a political office of legislate of the Roman Republic. Roman dictators were allocated absolute power during times of emergency. Their power was originally neither arbitrary nor unaccountable, being subject to law and requiring retrospective justification. There were no such dictatorships after the beginning of the 2nd century BC, and later dictators such as Sulla and the Roman Emperors exercised power much more personally and arbitrarily.
- A government controlled by one person, or a small group of people. In this form of government the power rests entirely on the person or group of people, and can be obtained by force or by inheritance. The dictator(s) may also take away much of its peoples' freedom.
- In contemporary usage, dictatorship refers to an autocratic form of absolute rule by leadership unrestricted by law, constitutions, or other social and political factors within the state.
For some scholars, a dictatorship is a form of government that has the power to govern without the consent of those being governed (similar to authoritarianism), while totalitarianism describes a state that regulates nearly every aspect of the public and private behavior of its people. In other words, dictatorship concerns the source of the governing power and totalitarianism concerns the scope of the governing power.
In this sense, dictatorship (government without people's consent) is a contrast to democracy (government whose power comes from people) and totalitarianism (government controls every aspect of people's lives) opposes pluralism (government allows multiple lifestyles and opinions).
Other scholars stress the omnipotence of the State (with its consequent suspension of rights) as the key element of a dictatorship and they argue that such a concentration of power can be legitimate or not depending on the circumstances, objectives and methods employed.
The most general term is despotism, a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy. Despotism can mean tyranny (dominance through threat of punishment and violence), or absolutism; or dictatorship (a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator, not restricted by a constitution, laws or opposition, etc.). Dictatorship may take the form of authoritarianism or totalitarianism.
Dictatorship is defined by Merriam-Webster as 'a form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique' or 'a government organisation or group in which absolute power is so concentrated', whereas democracy, with which the concept of dictatorship is often compared, is defined by most people as a form of government where those who govern are selected through contested elections. Authoritarian dictatorships are those where there is little political mobilization and "a small group exercises power within formally ill-defined limits but actually quite predictable ones". Totalitarian dictatorships involve a "single party led by a single powerful individual with a powerful secret police and a highly developed ideology." Here, the government has "total control of mass communications and social and economic organizations". Hannah Arendt labelled totalitarianism a new and extreme form of dictatorship involving "atomized, isolated individuals" in which ideology plays a leading role in defining how the entire society should be organised. Juan Linz argues that the distinction between an authoritarian regime and a totalitarian one is that while an authoritarian one seeks to suffocate politics and political mobilization (depoliticization), a totalitarian one seeks to control politics and political mobilization.
Dictatorships may be classified in a number of ways, such as:
- Military dictatorship
- "arbitrator" and "ruler" types may be distinguished; arbitrator regimes are professional, civilian-oriented, willing to give up power once problems have been resolved, and support the existing social order; "ruler" types view civilians as incompetent and have no intention of returning power to them, are politically organised, and have a coherent ideology
- Communism pursues the improvement of the living conditions of the lower classes, proposes the abolition of private property, the redistribution of wealth, the creation of an economic system planned in the interests of the people, the provision to every citizen of the resources needed for the satisfaction of his needs, and to this end promotes the forced overthrow of the state order, the insurrection, the armed struggle, provided that it is in the name of the egalitarian theory. Operation of the communist structure needs to be specially delegated to a management class coordinators, acting in the name and on behalf of the sovereign people. In practice, precisely this mechanism has proved the main obstacle to the realization of the communist design, leading to the creation, wherever tried, of a nomenklatura, i.e., a new class of exploiters, who, without having to account for their actions, due to their high moral endowment, led to the creation of authoritarian, militarized and economically inefficient systems.
- Single-party state
- "weak" and "strong" versions may be distinguished; in weak single-party states, "at least one other actor eclipses the role of the party (like a single individual, the military, or the president)." Joseph Stalin era in Soviet Union  and Mao Zedong era in China, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and İsmet İnönü era in Turkey can be given as example.
- Some combination of the types above.
The classic and often cited case of a corrupt, exploitative dictator is the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire from 1965 to 1997. Another classic case is the Philippines under the rule of Ferdinand Marcos. He is reputed to have stolen some US$5–10 billion.
Origins of power
Dictators may attain power in a number of ways.
- Family dictatorship - inheriting power through family ties
- Military dictatorship - through military force or coup d'etat. In Latin America, military dictatorships were often ruled by committees known as military juntas.
- Constitutional dictatorship - dictatorial powers provided for by constitutional means (often as a proviso in case of emergency)
- Self-coup - by suspending existing democratic mechanisms after attaining office by constitutional means.
A stable dictatorship is a dictatorship that is able to remain in power for long periods. The stable dictatorship theory concerning the Soviet Union held that after the succession crisis following Joseph Stalin's death, the victorious leader assumed the status of a Stalinist dictator without Stalin's terror apparatus. Chile and Paraguay were considered to be stable dictatorships in the 1970s. It has been argued that stable dictatorships behave differently than unstable dictatorships. For instance, Maria Brouwer opines that "expansionary policies can fail and undermine the authority of the leader. Stable dictators, would therefore, be inclined to refrain from military aggression. This applies to imperial China, Byzantium and Japan, which refrained from expanding their empire at some point in time. Emerging dictators, by contrast, want to win the people’s support by promising them riches from appropriating domestic or foreign wealth. They have not much to lose from failure, whereas success could elevate them to positions of wealth and power."
Impact on culture
The wave of military dictatorships in Latin America in the second half of the twentieth century left a particular mark on Latin American culture. In Latin American literature, the dictator novel challenging dictatorship and caudillismo, is a significant genre. There are also many films depicting Latin American military dictatorships.
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|Look up dictatorship in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Benevolent dictatorship
- Constitutional dictatorship
- Dictatorship of the majority
- Elective dictatorship
- Far-right politics
- Hayek's views on Pinochet's Chile
- List of titles used by dictators (Maximum Leader)
- Military dictatorship
- Negative selection (politics)
- People's democratic dictatorship
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- , Plinio Correa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution,(York, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), pp. 20-23.
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- Encyclopædia Britannica
- WordNet Search - 3.0
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- Juan Linz, quoted in Natasha M. Ezrow, Erica Frantz (2011), Dictators and Dictatorships: Understanding Authoritarian Regimes and Their Leaders, Continuum International Publishing Group. p2
- Ezrow and Frantz (2011:2-3)
- Ezrow and Frantz (2011:3)
- Ezrow and Frantz (2011:4)
- Ezrow and Frantz (2011:6-7)
- Encyclopaedia Britannica, items: COMMUNISM, MARXISM, RUSSIA
- Ezrow and Frantz (2011:6)
- On the People's Democratic Dictatorship
- "Top 15 Toppled Dictators". Time. October 20, 2011.
- "Plundering politicians and bribing multinationals undermine economic development, says TI" (PDF). Transparency International. 2004. Retrieved October 16, 2006.
- "A Failure of Democracy in Nigeria". Time. April 23, 2007.
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- AG Cuzán (1986), Fiscal Policy, the Military, and Political Stability in Iberoamerica, Behavioral Science
- M Brouwer (2006), Democracy and Dictatorship: The Politics of Innovation