Wednesday, November 24, 2010



: of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authorityauthoritarian parents>
: of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people authoritarian regime>
— authoritarian noun
— au·thor·i·tar·i·an·ism noun

1. the habit of conduct, thought, and speech expressing total submission to rigid principles and rules.
2. the principles and views of the rule maker. — authoritarian, n., adj.

Theodore M. Vestal of Oklahoma State University–Stillwater has written that authoritarianism is characterized by:
  • "Highly concentrated and centralized power structures" in which political power is generated and maintained by a "repressive system that excludes potential challengers" and uses political parties and mass organizations to "mobilize people around the goals of the government";[3]
  • The following principles:[3]
    1. rule of men, not rule of law
    2. rigged elections
    3. all important political decisions made by unelected officials behind closed doors
    4. bureaucracy operated quite independently of rules, the supervision of elected officials, or concerns of the constituencies they purportedly serve
    5. the informal and unregulated exercise of political power
  • Leadership that is "self-appointed and even if elected cannot be displaced by citizens' free choice among competitors"[citation needed]
  • No guarantee of civil liberties or tolerance for meaningful opposition;[3]
  • Weakening of civil society: "No freedom to create a broad range of groups, organizations, and political parties to compete for power or question the decisions of rulers", with instead an "attempt to impose controls on virtually all elements of society";[3]
  • Political stability maintained by "control over and support of the military to provide security to the system and control of society; 2) a pervasive bureaucracy staffed by the regime; 3) control of internal opposition and dissent; 4) creation ofallegiance through various means of socialization."
Authoritarian political systems may be weakened through "inadequate performance to demands of the people."[3] Vestal writes that the tendency to respond to challenges to authoritarianism through tighter control instead of adaptation is a significant weakness, and that this overly rigid approach fails to "adapt to changes or to accommodate growing demands on the part of the populace or even groups within the system."[3] Because the legitimacy of the state is dependent on performance, authoritarian states that fail to adapt may collapse.[3]
Authoritarianism is marked by "indefinite political tenure" of the ruler or ruling party (often in a single-party state) or other authority.[3] The transition from an authoritarian system to a democratic one is referred to as democratization.[3]
John Duckitt of the University of the Witwatersrand suggests a link between authoritarianism and collectivism, asserting that both stand in opposition to individualism.[4] Duckitt writes that both authoritarianism and collectivism submerge individual rights and goals to group goals, expectations and conformities.[5] Others argue that collectivism, properly defined, has a basis of consensus decision-making, the opposite of authoritarianism.

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