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This article is talking about Authoritarianism itself. For categories, see: Authoritarian Unity, Authoritarian Left and Authoritarian Right

"A nation based on freedom is just another place to go shopping."

Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong (usually central) power that demands obedience to authority and limited political and civil freedoms. While a multitude of different typologies has been developed by political scientists to classify authoritarian states, qualities commonly associated with authoritarian regimes include the absence of free and competitive democratic elections and one-party state, as well as censorship, and minimal power restrictions. Though sometimes authoritarianism can reside in democratic countries with free and fair elections where there's a clampdown on liberties instead as well as more emphasis on authority.


Authoritarianism arose during the transition from Tribes to cities. The first authoritarians were Monarchs, who had gained power through dynasties. Later in Greece, Democracy arose, which quickly became authoritarian. This stayed relatively the same until Enlightenment Thought, which resulted in numerous rebellions against authority. These new positions quickly became authoritarian, thus continuing the cycle.

Leaders and whose regimes have commonly been regarded as being Authoritarian include Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Francisco Franco in Spain, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal, Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran, Fidel Castro in Cuba, Emperor Hirohito in Japan, Saudi Arabia, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Alexandr Lukashenko in Belarus, etc.

Other famous examples include Juan Peron in Argentina, Maximilien Robespierre in France, and more recently, Hamas and Fatah in Palestine.


Authoritarian State

An authoritarian state is a type of government that imprisons and persecutes opponents of the leader, or ruling council. Even this type of state existing for thousands and thousands of years (as in the case of the Roman Empire and other empires), the concept of authoritarian state became better known and with the most solid concept with Louis XIV of France and Thomas Hobbes.

Louis XIV of France, House of Bourbon, was known throughout the realm as "Sun King" and "the Great" and is now known for his most famous phrase "L'État, c'est moi" ("I am the state"), in which he defined the absolutist state at the time. He was responsible for wars and opposing feudalism, as well as being a clear example of Absolute Monarchy. Absolutism was almost the norm of governments at the time, with the concept of republic and democracy dead just like the Roman Empire. Absolutism preaches a government based on a single leader and without any rules restricting it, often using religious motives to justify authority.

Thomas Hobbes, on the other hand, believes in a definition of an authoritarian state more similar to today's, based on the biblical character Leviathan. A "Leviathan State" is a type of state that would be strong and unshakable to avoid chaos (which would be anarchy) and human nature that would be violent (Bellum omnium contra omnes). He also believes that the state is just by the social contract and that life without the state would be "lonely, poor, nasty, brutish and short".

Currently, even though the republican system is more prevalent than the monarchical one, absolutism still exists in some countries and has been adapted to other countries with a republican system, known as despotism (even sometimes not being a leader, but a party or an oligarchy). They often end up consecrated in a democracy, in which power is abused to persecute only opponents of great influence and sometimes making questionable elections and excessive propaganda.


One of, if not the main characteristic of authoritarianism is censorship against the opinion and manifestation of opponents or divergent cultural values. Even though censorship has existed since biblical times, it only gained some notoriety when Socrates was censored in 399 BC.

There are several types of censorship, one of which is opposition censorship:

  • Opposition censorship is when a government restricts freedom of opinion and expression by persecuting opponents, either through financial pressure, imprisonment or even the death penalty, against individuals, movements and even demonstrations. Sometimes the government discreetly pursues opponents of the population (without the people knowing) or in more known cases when the government censures in a generalized and public way, such as totalitarian dictatorships, especially with public executions.

Another extremely well-known type would be censorship based on cultural values.

  • Cultural values censorship is when a government censors restricting freedom of expression just because cultural values are divergent, usually against individual choices and artistic expression. For most of history, censorship against cultural values was generally in favor of culturally right-wing values, pursuing innovative and "revolutionary" movements and counterculture, the best-known example being the Middle Ages. Later, censorship appeared against cultural values favorable to culturally left-wing values, against remnants of traditions and religion, some examples could be the French revolution, Mao Tse-Tung and Jiang Zemin.

Other types could be ethnocentric censorship, economic induced censorship, isolationist censorship and censorship against science.

  • Ethnocentric censorship would be a type of censorship to favor only one type of ethnicity, restricting the freedom to pursue the culture and ways of acting of a certain ethnic group, usually combined with ethnocide and ethnocracy. Most of the time there is also propaganda against these ethnicities and also an attempt to replace cultures. Some examples could be South Korea under Showaista Japan, Equatorial Guinea and Chinese Turkestan.
  • The economic induced censorship would be a type of censorship made by the markets to not favor certain types of information, often leaving information expensive on purpose. Some examples would be the favoring of companies in capitalist dictatorships, as well as a few occasions in the Epstein case.
  • Isolationist censorship would be censorship to favor a government and not show anything from abroad to the population within the country, usually using totalitarianism and banning other cultures from abroad, the most famous example being North Korea.
  • Anti-science censorship is a type of censorship against any technological or scientific innovations, usually to further a prevailing government ideology or narrative, sometimes being selective in the science to censor. Some examples are the Middle Ages, anti-eugenics science censorship in Nazi Germany and some types of censorship in the USSR.

Detention and Violence

One of the hallmarks of authoritarianism is the arrest (or imprisonment) and torture of political opponents, especially if they are extremely popular, but also arrest small opponents such as demonstrators. They usually use this as an example so that it cannot be repeated, even if it is sometimes expensive, so they end up using other strategies.

Some states, especially the older ones, used public execution to set an example of what would happen if they opposed the government, abusing the fear of people, examples being the French Revolution and Iraq under Abd al-Karim Qasim. Others perform without the public's view, hoping to avoid revolts, the most famous example being the cases of dictatorships.

Others create forced labor camps in subhuman conditions and cruel torture in scientific experiments on opponents of the government, the most famous examples being Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (intensified under the Stalin regime). Currently, this is seen extremely negatively, so authoritarian governments end up substituting the name for re-education camps or something similar, the most famous current example being China in Xinjiang and North Korea.


Another characteristic of the dictatorship is the fact that they abuse advertisements to alienate the population, whether for an ideal, an ideology, a religion, a culture, etc.

Usually they can use traditional means, i.e. with posters, indoctrination in schools and means of apprenticeship, cultural indoctrination (songs, essays, etc.), demonization of opponents, changes in meaning (such as classifying everyone who opposes as communist or nazi) and other forms of advertising.

Generally, propaganda is accompanied by censorship of propaganda of divergent ideals or cultures, in addition to sometimes using satirism to mischaracterize the opponent, even persecuting most satirists. Propaganda is often used to create a cult of the state or a personality, treating the state or the leader as gods or almost perfect beings, creating obedience to the dictatorship, facilitating control, but future instability.

Propaganda could also be used to hide problems and difficulties that the country is suffering, showing that the country would be fine and that the government would be working and hiding administration failures, also being accompanied by censorship. This type of propaganda could also be used in the event of war, as a way to hide defeats. Some examples could be the Soviet Union, Saddam's Iraq, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Maoist China and countless others.

Stay in power

As already seen, the things said above are ways to make a dictatorship remain in power, which can sometimes fail in countless ways.

Many dictatorships use ideals and religions, and initially pagan and Asian religions, later the religion most used in the West to justify dictatorships was Christianity, even though in other regions it was Islam, paganism, Asian religions and others. Post-industrial revolution and first war, religion was little used with few exceptions, but the ideal used was ideologies, such as revolutionary, republican, anti-communist and countless others.

Currently, in order to justify and try to maintain dictatorships, they end up using ideologies, religion and jargon, such as the contradictory "in defense of freedom" or "in defense of anti-American liberation". Post-Iraq war, Islam was used in an attempt to justify some dictatorships (such as Iran) and rule by terrorist groups. Other uses would be abuses of nationalism and even conservatism, as in the case of China and North Korea.

Dictatorship Types

Authoritarian Centrism

The Authoritarian Centrism is a form of dictatorship that tries to gain the support of moderates and centrists, while chasing and oppressing political radicals, usually communists and fascists, or sometimes the government tries to gain support from the radicals while chasing libs ideologies (an example would be Juan Perón ).

The vast majority (or if not all) can be classified as Social Authoritarians, especially for the economic syncretism when trying to leave a free market, but with state regulations and services. Some notable examples are:

  • Getúlio Vargas - Vargas could be an example of Authoritarian Centrism, as he persecuted both Communists and some Fascists, such as the Integralists (even having used aesthetics and admired some fashos ). He was also responsible for leading some private industries, while creating state and labor laws, as well as strong appeal with unions. He also maintained a strong nationalism and pro-national culture, while making alliances with pro-US countries and cultural adaptation.
  • Hosni Mubarak - Another considerable example, since at the same time it made neoliberal and pro-market alliances, at the same time it increased the number of public servants to 8 million and increased public services. He also made deals with the Arab League and Islamic theocracies, while supporting secularism and Islamic anti-radicalism.
  • Abdel Fattah el-Sisi - Another example, because while letting capitalism flow in the country and agreements with some companies, it still had an increase in the state sector, plus some interventionism and tax increases.

Right-Wing Authoritarianism

Right-wing Authoritarianism is a type of dictatorship based especially on right-wing economics, in addition to some conservative and even reactionary ideals.

Many right-wing dictatorships are based only on the economic question, while socially it tends to the left. On the economic question, the government would be anti-communist, supporting private companies, economic liberalism and social classes. Some notable examples are: Hosni Mubarak, Paul Kagame, Jiang Zemin, Fulgencio Batista and countless others.

Other dictatorships would be for conservative ideals and radical anti-communism, even though they are sometimes economically neutral, even if some are capitalist. Some examples could be Chiang Kai-shek, Mobutu Sese Seko, Hastings Banda and countless others, especially in dictatorships of non-aligned countries.

Other dictatorships, on the other hand, are classified as right-wing because they are culturally reactionary extreme right, ultra-radically anti-communist, ethnonationalist and totalitarian, even sometimes being non-capitalist and even sometimes being economically center-left. Some examples are Islamic Republic of Iran, Idi Amin, some Catholic governments of the Middle Ages and among countless others.

Left-wing Authoritarianism

Left Authoritarianism is a type of dictatorship based on a left economy (both extreme left to some center left), but unlike Right Authoritarianism, cultural views are not as taken into account, as main feature of the anti-capitalist struggle.

Some dictatorships had a left to center-left economy with some non-socialist actions, in addition to being culturally right-wing. Some examples could be Adib Shishakli, Muammar Gaddafi, Ramiz Alia and others.

Other dictators, especially during and after the cold war, adopted measures that were perceived as radical (not so much when compared to communism) and an inherently repressive government, in addition to adapting the left locally. Some examples could be Nicolás Maduro, Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega, Laurent-Désiré Kabila and countless others, especially in the third world.

The most famous type of leftist dictatorship is the communist dictatorship, in which private property and means of production cease to exist and are replaced by public ones, in addition to a strong communist propaganda. Some notable examples are Joseph Stalin, Bolesław Bierut, Mao Zedong and countless others.

Benevolent Dictatorship

While authoritarianism is usually seen as an inherently negative system, there have been cases where benevolent rulers are able to rule with the interests of the population as a whole in mind. A benevolent dictatorship occurs when a dictator possesses a perceived attitude of compassion and desire to improve or progress society. This may include a state that cracks down on criminals heavily, invests in welfare, secures social progress, and removes malign internal and external influence. As well as ensuring that protected minorities are safe and respected by others. Some notable examples include Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Josip Broz Tito, Lee Kuan-Yew, France Albert René, Thomas Sankara and some others.


A dictablanda is a state which preserves civil liberties such as women's right to an abortion, gay rights to marry, trans rights to change their gender, etc. etc., while forbidding the right to vote. It is often an illusion created to save dictatorial regimes by presenting them as soft and benevolent and guaranteeing some rights against surveillance and oppression.

Ethnocentric Dictatorship

An ethnocentric dictatorship is a dictatorship that attacks ethnic minorities and specific ethnic groups in order to preserve their ethnicity it is genocidal and may use apartheid, pogroms and concertation camps in order to get rid of other ethnicities that are deemed undesirable.

Fake Democracy

A fake democracy is often an oligarchy that masquerades as a democracy by rigging elections to continue to hold onto power permamently while not being as oppressive as other dicatorships they are often still very oppresive towards unions, students and the oppostion but still preservering a sheet of democracy.

Puppet Dictatorship

A puppet dictatorship is a dictatorship sponsored and beholden to, a foreign power this was seen in the eastern bloc during the Cold War when the Soviets exerted their control over eastern Europe as well as during Operation Condor in Latin America when the USA overthrew many democratically elected left-leaning governments and replaced them with more pro-western and right-wing dictatorships.

Personality and Behaviour

Auth is very demanding and angry, but will become enraged if you mention this. He also hates it if you call him totalitarian.

Stylistic Notes


How to Draw

Authoritarianism's design is based on the 8values Security icon.

Flag of Authoritarianism
  1. Draw a ball
  2. Color it a slightly faded navy blue
  3. Draw a large black gavel in the middle of the ball
  4. Draw eyes

And you're done!

Color Name HEX RGB
Faded Navy Blue #3F51B5 63, 81, 181
Black #141414 20, 20, 20


Law and Order Gang

On the thin ice

  • Ingsoc - Grandson, that's really too far.
  • Peronism - Sure you say you're not a dictator but I don't buy it.
  • Enlightenment Thought - Could have ended me, but ended up falling victim to the cycle.
  • Tribalism - The future is now, old man.
  • Democracy - Moron. We don't need ya dirty "liberty"... but you do elect authoritarian leaders sometimes which is based.


Further Information





Portraits and Artwork