AUTOCRACY is a system of government in which absolute power over a state is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of coup d’état or other forms of rebellion).
In earlier times, the term autocrat was coined as a favorable description of a ruler, having some connection to the concept of “lack of conflicts of interests” as well as an indication of grandeur and power. This use of the term continued into modern times, as the Russian Emperor was styled “Autocrat of all the Russias” as late as the early 20th century. In the 19th century, Eastern and Central Europe were under autocratic monarchies within the territories of which lived diverse peoples.
Autocracy comes from the Ancient Greek autos (Greek: αὐτός; “self”) and kratos (Greek: κράτος; “power”, “strength”) from Kratos, the Greek personification of authority. In Medieval Greek, the term Autocrates was used for anyone holding the title emperor, regardless of the actual power of the monarch. The term was used in Ancient Greece and Rome with varying meanings. In the Middle Ages, the Byzantine Emperor was styled Autocrat of the Romans. Some historical Slavic monarchs such as Russian tsars and emperors, due to byzantine influence, included the title Autocrat as part of their official styles, distinguishing them from the constitutional monarchs elsewhere in Europe.
COMPARISON WITH OTHER FORMS OF GOVERNMENT:
Both totalitarian and military dictatorship are often identified with, but need not be, an autocracy. Totalitarianism is a system where the state strives to control every aspect of life and civil society. It can be headed by a supreme leader, making it autocratic, but it can also have a collective leadership such as a commune, military junta, or a single political party as in the case of a one-party state.
FROM WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY:
Synonyms for autocracy
Synonyms: absolutism, autarchy, authoritarianism, Caesarism, czarism (also tsarism or tzarism), despotism, dictatorship, totalism, totalitarianism, tyranny.
au·toc·ra·cy | \ ȯ-ˈtä-krə-sē \
Definition of autocracy
1: the authority or rule of an autocrat
2: government in which one person possesses unlimited power
3: a community or state governed by autocracy
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