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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
This may sound like an academic discussion, especially to young readers who know or care little about what came before them, but the question of how writers respond to the challenges (and opportunities) of authoritarian regimes is actually a very timely and practical one.
Overall, this review is not for claiming that the one author's argument is more or less relevant than other in assessing the competitive authoritarian regime trajectories.
This study examines the relationship between media exposure and regime support in competitive authoritarian regimes where mass media is not continuously or entirely controlled but where the regime maintains the capability of exercising control.
In the medium and long term, they will be seen as accomplices who propped up this authoritarian regime which oppressed its own people in a way that was not seen even during the past military-era regimes.
The Second obstacle faced in exiting from a long-entrenched authoritarian regime is concerned with the nature of the pre-political change activities of the opposition groups, much of which may be clandestine.
Dollfuss installed an authoritarian regime in Austria after coming to power in 1932 but also staunchly opposed its annexation to Nazi Germany under Hitler.
Egypt was ruled by authoritarian regime, under the military and a dominant government established party, for more than sixty years.
Azerbaijan is ruled by an authoritarian regime under young Ilham Aliyev, who was elected president on Oct.
Encountering painted rock carvings, the legacy of Genghis Khan, buried Tibetan manuscripts and the ruins of a once flourishing intellectual center of learning, this lecture looks at the devastating consequences of an authoritarian regime's policy of cultural heritage decimation in the 1930s and the determination of 21st-century Mongolia to protect its past.
Not only did Chile have to reinvent itself politically in 1988 in order to create stability for the future, but also at the same time faced the obstacle of having to deal with the violations of human rights and civil liberties committed under General Pinochet's authoritarian regime. Elizabeth Lira's article Human Rights in Chile: The Long Road to Truth, Justice and Reparations gives a detailed account of the long and tedious political and legal process of awarding reparations to victims of the regime and the trials held to restore justice.
We may have a relatively benign Government in place at the moment but just imagine what an authoritarian regime could do with all this information.
John Rees, Respect party secretary, said: "It's a shaky authoritarian regime. I don't think they wanted an MP that supports the democracy movement."