The autocracy is a model of centralized government that grants all the power of the State to a single person . The decisions that this individual makes may not be questioned or contravened, nor will they be subject to controls of any kind. The person who presides over this kind of government system is called an autocrat. In this article we will provide you the Characteristics of Autocracy.
Etymologically, the word autocracy derives from a term that comes from two words in Greek: ” auto “, which means “by itself” and ” kratos “, which conveys the idea of government or power. It is clearly a non-democratic regime , where absolute power is essential and there are no mechanisms to regulate or control the president.
The forms of autocracy that have developed throughout history were absolutist monarchies, such as those experienced in Eastern Europe before the French Revolution occurred. The modern dictatorship can also be mentioned as a form of autocracy.
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Main Characteristics of autocracy
To better understand how an autocracy works, let’s look at some of its most important Characteristics of autocracy:
- Autonomy or political independence is not recognized , neither personal nor of any other type of entity or organization.
- Lack of guarantees of political, social and civil rights.
- There is no freedom of expression , or of information, or of the press. The right that people have to association is eliminated.
- The autocrat acts without feeling responsibility towards society, without any kind of regulations. Nor are they subject to the control of the citizenry. Above the autocratic leader there is no law.
- Independent institutions in charge of channeling the claims and demands of individuals are eliminated and prohibited .
- They use repression and violence to eliminate any attempt to organize.
- Economically it is identified by eliminating and reducing the private sector and there is no market power. As a consequence, there is a low level of competition, because almost all the companies are state-owned.
- Another basic aspect of autocracy is the personalization of autocracy power , where power is concentrated in the leader. The involvement of the judiciary is minimized to such an extent that it is relegated only to minor disputes that are not related to the government. The same thing happens with the parliament or legislative power , which will have only minor powers subject to the sole leader.
- There are no free elections , and political rights are not enjoyed.
- They are supported by a new oligarchy , created by the same regime. It can be military, religious, economic groups or unions. Neither of these can compete for power.
Causes of Autocracy How does it originate?
The autocracy arises when a single figure decides to concentrate the powers in himself and is in charge of governing all the affairs of a nation. Autocracies only exist with the presence of an autocrat and the autocrat arises out of the ambition to obtain absolute power .
This centralized government system can be established through different mechanisms, including a popular election. It only suffices that the elected ruler subsequently begins to make a series of changes that little by little lead in this direction. You can use “legal” tricks and the same republican powers.
Consequences of Autocracy
The autocracy in all cases brings negative consequences for the majority of the population, with the exception of those who make up the elitist leadership and the new oligarchy that support the government.
Some of the consequences of an autocratic government:
- There is repression and persecution against dissent and they are denied political participation. On many occasions those who think differently or those who oppose the autocratic regime are deprived of human rights.
- The allies of the autocratic regime often enjoy almost absolute impunity for which they enrich themselves illegally, commit crimes and accumulate assets, without being tried.
- Another of the dreaded consequences of an autocracy is that they are usually times of violence and a lot of terror . There is torture, persecution and murder of the enemies of the regime or even those who do not cooperate with it.
- As a result, violent resistance can occur on the part of those who are governed. Protests, guerrillas, revolutions and civil wars arise. The governed are generally willing to sacrifice everything for freedom.
- The autocracy always ends up benefiting the autocrat, the followers and a social sector that remains loyal. In general, this sector has sufficient assets to become an oligarchy or a social sector with a lot of power that accumulates economic, social and political advantages for itself.
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Best-known autocratic regimes in history
To better understand the definition of autocracy, let’s look at the best-known autocratic governments in human history.
Tsarist Russia | 1547 – 1917
The political system that began in Russia in 1547 until the October Revolution of 1917 , was governed by a Tsar, an emperor who belonged to the Russian nobility. The tsarist regime was very similar to absolutism because it did not offer the basic conditions for establishing industries. The tsars proclaimed themselves autocrats, in short, owners of economic and political power.
Translation French | XVII century
Louis XIV was an absolutist monarch French of the seventeenth century . This king was not subject to any of the institutional regulations. The period of the absolutist monarchy came to an end in 1789 during the French Revolution ; with the rise of the working class , unprotected and exploited.
Nazism of Adolf Hitler | 1933 – 1945
It is the clear example of the twentieth century to identify an autocratic regime. Hitler came to power in a legitimate way but little by little he developed a government with which he dominated the people using military power and the manipulation of ideas. He was in power until he commits suicide, shortly before the end of World War II .
Franco’s Spain | 1939 – 1975
The conservative military man Francisco Franco ended the Spanish Civil War in the 20th century through an atrocious dictatorship where thousands of opponents disappeared . As an autocrat does, political powers were centralized in a single individual, using the figure of Caudillo.
Communism of Mao Tse Tung | 1949 – 1976
This leader became the most important representative of the Chinese Communist Party from 1949. He repressed all attempts at different ideologies with a strong cult of his personality. He managed to maintain the low status of the general population through extreme repression.
Communism of Fidel Castro | 1976 – 2008
He was a guerrilla who believed in the principles of social equality. It starts a revolution in Cuba , but over time it was transformed into an autocratic government that maintained power almost for life. It eliminated civil rights, press and expression, political rights, to demonstrate and religious rights, among others.
Relationship of Autocracy with other models of government
Autocracy is the opposite of democracy . The term is often used as a synonym for tyranny and dictatorship , but they are not necessarily synonymous. Although, at times, dictatorships and totalitarian governments can have traits of an autocracy.
The main attribute of the autocracy is that it concentrates power in a single figure , that is, only one person dominates all the affairs of the people and the State in general. In this sense, it can be differentiated from other types of totalitarianism or dictatorships, where power is exercised by a sector or social group, it can be a political party, an ethnic minority or a military junta.
Since all power rests with a single person , they are worshiped and revered as if they were a saint or a deity. This feeling is strengthened from the structure of the State and the cult of the personality of the caudillo or leader is encouraged. To achieve this, manipulative messages are used that place him as a kind of redeemer, savior or, in the worst case scenario, as a necessary evil.