authoritarianism

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authoritarianism

see AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY.

Authoritarianism

 

antidemocratic system of political rule characteristic of the most reactionary political systems of capitalist states, such as the fascist regimes in Germany, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere.

Authoritarianism is a totalitarian form of government or political regime under which procedures of democratic decision-making are either absent altogether or else are fictitious, existing merely for show. The power is not constituted or controlled by the people, who have no guarantees in the face of an absolute, uncontrolled authoritarian regime. Real power is concentrated in the hands of the ruling elite, which is selected by special procedures. Authoritarianism is characterized by excessive centralization, the monopolization of power by an elite who are organized in a strict hierarchy, outright reliance on the military-punitive apparatus, and the extensive use of terrorist reprisals against the opposition. Supreme power in an authoritarian state is usually concentrated in the hands of a so-called leader (Führer, duce, caudillo, etc.).

Characteristics of authoritarian ideology are demagoguery, the use of racial, nationalistic, religious, and other myths, and appeal to the indisputable authority of the so-called leader. The authoritarian regime constantly cultivates fanaticism and encourages fear among the masses.

The general crisis of capitalism is characterized by the curtailment of bourgeois democracy and the tendency toward autocratic and fascist methods of government. Despite the military collapse of Fascism in World War II (1939–45), authoritarian tendencies continue to exist. This is evidenced, in particular, by military-police coups in a number of countries, neo-Nazism and neo-Fascism, the striving of financial oligarchies to establish regimes of personal power, the tendency toward the use of emergency laws, and the prohibition in a number of countries of communist and workers’ parties and other progressive democratic organizations.

V. S. NERSESIANTS