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Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Russia is seen as an example of ethnic, collectivist, and authoritarian nationalism. These terms are briefly discussed in the introductory chapter.
The rise of right-wing authoritarian nationalism, fascism combined with the growth of antiminority hatred is becoming entrenched in liberal democracies across the EU.
These include the north-south divide over debt and the euro; the east-west divide over migration and the rise of "authoritarian nationalism" in Poland and Hungary; the eurozone crisis weakening the legitimacy of the integration process and undermining the political representation of citizens in the member states; the recurrent speculation about a Grexit (Greece exit); the expected failure of austerity to lead to growth in the eurozone; and the possibility of Brexit (British exit) and its ultimate consequences, the menace of the free movement of people from reactions to the refugee crisis.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The demons of Fascism, a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe, have returned to the Old Continent.
Six central issues animate the proceedings: how people define the characteristics that are constitutive of a nation, the conditions and factors that lead to democratic or authoritarian nationalisms, the relationship between state or civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism, the conditions and factors that lead to violent or peaceful resolutions of nationality conflicts, the connections between mode of conflict resolution and the organizational form and political program of national movements, and the social groups that are the social carriers of national movements and provide their intellectual and political leaders.