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|Basic forms of
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic or authoritarian form of government in which a government is ruled by either an individual: a dictator, or an authoritarian party, as in an oligarchy. It has three possible meanings:
- 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 consent of those being governed (similar to authoritarianism), while totalitarianism describes a state that regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior of the 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 life) 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 argue that such 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
- 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)."
The classic case of a corrupt, exploitive dictator often given is the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled the Zaire from 1965 to 1997. Another classic case is 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
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.
|Look up dictatorship in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Constitutional dictatorship
- Dictatorship of the majority
- Elective dictatorship
- List of titles used by dictators (Maximum Leader)
- Military dictatorship
- Negative selection (politics)
- People's democratic dictatorship
- The Dictator
- Hayek's views on Augusto Pinochet
- Friedrich, Carl J.; Brzezinski, Zbigniew K. (1965). Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy (2nd ed. ed.). Praeger.
- Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce; Alastair Smith, Randolph M. Siverson and James D. Morrow (2003). The Logic of Political Survival. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-63315-9.
- "Democracy Index 2011" (PDF). Economist Intelligence Unit.
- Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity. PublicAffairs, 2009. ISBN 1-58648-769-8 p. 53: "...the Chinese communists' murdering of a mind-boggling number of people, perhaps more than 70 million Chinese, included an additional 1.2 million Tibetans."
- , 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.
- Del Testa, David W; Lemoine, Florence; Strickland, John (2003). Government Leaders, Military Rulers, and Political Activists. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-57356-153-2.
- Encyclopædia Britannica
- WordNet Search - 3.0
- 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)
- Ezrow and Frantz (2011:6)
- "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.