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A polycracy is a state ruled by more than one person, as opposed to monocracy. The word is derived from Greek -- poly which means "many" and kratos which means "rule" or "strength". It is also known as polyarchy.[1] Many seemingly autocratic states are merely a facade of polycratic societies. Even if one individual acts as a figurehead, they will usually have some sort of support network by which they will rule their nations.

Examples of polycracy[edit]

While it has been argued that the Nazi regime was totalitarian, it is also apt to place it as a polycratic state.[citation needed] Adolf Hitler delegated many responsibilities, and his inferiors (such as Albert Speer), would often fight for power. Speer states that Hermann Göring raced to Hitler's headquarters on hearing of Fritz Todt's death, hoping to claim Todt's powers. Hitler instead presented Göring with the fait accompli of Speer's appointment, causing Göring to leave without even attending Todt's funeral.

In a discussion of contemporary British foreign policy, Mark Curtis stated that "Polyarchy is generally what British leaders mean when they speak of promoting 'democracy' abroad. This is a system in which a small group actually rules and mass participation is confined to choosing leaders in elections managed by competing elites."


  1. ^ Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (G & C. Merriam Co., 1913, edited by Noah Porter).
(Original German edition: Speer, Albert (1969), Erinnerungen [Reminiscences], Berlin and Frankfurt am Main: Propyläen/Ullstein, OCLC 639475 )