Learn more about Dictatorship

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Approximate map of world dictatorships. Dark red represents current dictatorships; light red represents former dictatorships. Cuba and other countries are not globally considered to be dictatorships. This map represents the current list of (admittedly subjective) dictators listed on List of dictators.
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A dictatorship is an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator. It has two possible meanings:

  • Roman dictator was a political office of the Roman Republic. Roman dictators were allocated absolute power during times of emergency. Their power was neither arbitrary or unaccountable, however, being subject to law and requiring retrospective justification. There were no such dictatorships after the beginning of the 2nd century BC, and later dictators such as Sulla and the Roman Emperors exercised power much more personally and arbitrarily.
  • In contemporary usage, dictatorship refers to an autocratic form of absolute rule by leadership unrestricted by law, constitutions, or other social and political factors within the state.


[edit] Interwar era

In the twentieth century dictatorship has been an essential pillar of single-party states, military regimes, and other authoritarian regimes.

[edit] Postwar Era and the Cold War

In the postwar era, dictatorship became a frequent feature of military government, especially in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. In the case of many African or Asian former colonies, after achieving their independence in the postwar wave of decolonization, presidential regimes were gradually transformed into personal dictatorships. These regimes often proved unstable, with the personalization of power in the hands of the dictator and his associates, making the political system uncertain.

It's often alleged that the rise of these dictatorships were substantially influenced by the Cold War dynamics. Both the United States and the USSR managed to expand or maintain their influence zones by financing paramilitary and political groups and encouraging coups d'état, especially in Africa, what have led many countries to brutal civil wars and consequent manifestations of authoritarianism. In Latin America, dictatorships were a reliable way of overthrowing undesireable leftist governments and securing the fidelity of the region to Washington.

In fiction, dictatorship has sometimes been portrayed as the political system of choice for controlling dystopian societies, such as in George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four", Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We", Fritz Leiber's "Ill Met in Lankhmar", and Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451".

[edit] See also

[edit] Further reading

  • Friedrich, Carl J. and Zbigniew K. Brzezinski, Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy, Praeger, 2nd ed., 1965.

Forms of Government and Methods of Rule: Autocratic and Authoritarian

Autocratic: Despotism | Dictatorship | Tyranny | Absolute monarchy (Caliphate | Despotate | Emirate | Empire | Imamate | Khanate | Sultanate | Other monarchical titles) | Enlightened absolutism

Other Authoritarian: Military dictatorship (often a Junta) | Oligarchy | Single-party state (Communist state | Fascist(oid) state (e.g. Nazi Germany)) | de facto: Illiberal democracy


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