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.
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:
- It is the government of a single person that can be a military, professional, or syndicate.
- The leader must be a person of strong and decisive character and impose decisions with firmness.
- There can be no opposition and if there is opposition it must be very weak.
- Autocratic governments have no tolerance of any kind and have methods of repression against those who are against the policies and decisions made.
- Autocracies can originate within other types of governments, for example, within democratic
- People who come to govern in the form of autocracy consider that they have a divine right and therefore think that they have all absolute or unlimited
- The governments that take this type of government are those known as dictatorships and monarchies.
- They may arise as a party proposal, which is chosen through free and democratic elections but which, when it achieves power becomes a centralist and authoritarian person.
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:
- Faster decision-making: having a ruler who decides on matters related to a nation, without distractions and influences from others, is considered to make it easier for the leader to make decisions that are sensible to the interests of the country.
- There is no opposition: as there is a ruler to create and promulgate laws, there will be no other political parties that can oppose against which laws or decrees will be approved.
- Strong Leadership: The leader must be strong, powerful, and firm in making decisions and controlling a nation. An autocratic leader generally has military control and is the one who can impose on a group of people to follow his rules and instructions.
Among the disadvantages of an autocracy, we mention the following:
- Absolute power: a disadvantage is that power is only exercised by one person. If the leader is greedy and not a good person, he will use power to accumulate wealth and abuse
- There are no elections: the ruler will remain in power as long as he lives because there will be no elections, unlike a democratic government where citizens can choose their leaders.
- It instills fear: people usually fear for their lives. This is because, in this form of government, people are expected to obey the rules or face heavy fines and penalties for not following the ruler.
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.