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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
It could happen stealthily / Most of the book's contributors are pessimistic or cautious about the country's prospects of avoiding authoritarianism. If it happens here, it would probably happen slowly.
It would not be too assertive to say today that authoritarianism has persisted in the region in different forms since the Arab Uprisings, but the fragility of Arab republics like Tunisia and Egypt -as compared to the resilient character of monarchies like Jordan and Morocco- needs more theoretical scrutiny.
Perhaps you agree with me that we need a rebirth of true conservatism, one that fiercely opposes authoritarianism. One that just as fiercely defends freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom from any state-imposed religion.
So what do we do to stop the advance of authoritarianism? Many colleagues are utilising their scholarly skills as a way of addressing authoritarianism.
A democracy with social discipline can withstand the challenge of authoritarianism, but a democracy without social discipline is likely to be undone because it will view the measures necessary for prevailing in this struggle as too painful or too hateful to undertake.
Such 'competitive authoritarianism' captures the reality that 'most authoritarian regimes [in recent times] do not look very different from democracies'.
In the post-Stalin period, totalitarianism gave way to a "normal" sort of authoritarianism, featuring a relaxation of terror and attention to social welfare.
right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is utilized as a predictor of attitudes toward torture.
"However, at the heart of retrenched authoritarianism rests a long-term gamble," notes Alaoui, that "all else being equal, youth activists that comprise the vanguard of opposition movements can be permanently deactivated." Societies with a high proportion of youth cannot ignore that driving force of change.
The rising authoritarianism of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and its ongoing conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in southeastern Anatolia were two critical points underlined by almost every speaker.
Ecologically-motivated authoritarianism flourished initially during the 1970s but largely disappeared after the decline of socialism in the late-1980s.
William Zimmerman, Ruling Russia: Authoritarianism from the Revolution to Putin, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2014 ISBN: 978-0-691-16148-8 Hardcover, 329 pp., $29.95