In an autocracy, political power is held by a person who can control most or all aspects of people's lives. Autocrats can be called dictators or emperors. In the past, Egyptian pharaohs were a kind of autocrat for that society. Other people can play an important role in helping to maintain the power of an autocrat, such as elite members of society who benefit from the leader remaining in power.


Related topics

Oligarchy, plutocracy

What is autocracy?

Autocracy is the type of government in which power is concentrated in a single person that does not allow the participation of other individuals or social groups so, absolute decisions are only in their power.

To maintain total control of a country, an autocratic government can use force and repression of individual and human rights. Autocracies are authoritarian in this way, which means that one authority has most control over life for all. Authoritarian leaders can employ a variety of means to prevent the loss of power, including threats of violence to those who speak out against it.


The term autocracy derives from the Greek term autokrateia. This concept is formed by two different words, “autos” which has the meaning of self and “Kratos” which means government. So, the translation would be government of one.

According to the dictionary of the real Spanish academy, autocracy is a form of government in which the will of one person is the supreme law, and it is applied to the rest of society.

Characteristics of autocracy

Among its main characteristics we can mention the following:

History of autocracy

Its history is found in the Byzantine Empire where the emperor became known as an autocratic, which meant that he was the only one who had supreme and absolute power, in an unlimited and irresponsible way over all the situations around him, and that all this power was given by God.

The term expanded from the end of that empire, being Russia the first country to adopt this form of government.


Some advantages of having an autocracy as a form of government are:


Among the disadvantages of an autocracy, we mention the following:

Examples of autocracy

A clear example of autocracy can be seen in Venezuela. Its president reached politics through the popular vote, but once he was elected, he began to govern in an autocratic way, silencing the political opposition through persecution and imprisonment, without having any reason to do so. In Venezuela, thousands of people are imprisoned solely for their way of thinking and for being against the government regime.

The former European monarchies are also an example of autocracy.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Autocracy. Recovered on 23 February, 2024, de Euston96:

Recommended for you