Authoritarian vs Dictator: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. Authoritarianism: An authoritarian system refers to a form of government where power is concentrated in the hands of a single leader or ruling elite. It involves limited political freedoms, strict control over society, and suppression of dissent. The leader or ruling elite controls government institutions and decision-making processes.
  2. Dictatorship: A dictatorship is a specific type of authoritarian regime where power is held by a single individual, known as the dictator. The dictator holds absolute power and exercises authority without the consent or input of the people. Dictatorships involve repression, censorship, and a lack of political freedoms.
  3. Differences: While both authoritarianism and dictatorship involve concentrated power, the key difference lies in the mode of governance. Authoritarianism can encompass various forms of governance, including ruling elites, while dictatorship specifically refers to a system where power is held by a single individual, the dictator.

What is Authoritarian?

The world has seen several types of government systems through the ages, and authoritarianism is one of them. An authoritarian is someone who rules this system. It is a small party or group leading the state.

Under the rule of an authoritarian, free speech and other fundamental rights gets limited. Citizens do not hold complete political freedom. The ruling leaders make all the decisions. The democratic system stands as the opposite of an authoritarian system.

Human rights abuses, torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings are common in authoritarian states. The limit of the repression in authoritarianism does not exist, and therefore sometimes the barrier gets crossed, and it might turn into a dictatorship.

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The authoritarians seize societies with ep-seated social or economic inequalities. Having a history of political instability in a state falls prey to authoritarianism. An authoritarian takes advantage of these issues and exploits the citizens and their resources. 

What is a Dictator?

A dictator is a monarch who holds absolute power and misuses it. A country dictator obtains and maintains power through force and sometimes bloodshed. Dictators exercise control over all aspects, such as the military and media.

Dictators’ tools are propaganda, censorship, and violence to keep their chair of power intact. They also restrict the citizens from practicing their fundamental rights as the rights people threaten the dictators.

A single leader leads a dictatorship. A dictator retains absolute authority over the country. Election fraud can also be one of the reasons for dictators to come to power. They may also use surveillance to suppress any sprout of revolt.

A dictator is not worried about social or economic development. The results can be hunger and poverty among the citizens. However, not all dictators are cruel. History has seen some scattered examples of dictators who have successfully improved the living standards of their people.

Despite the short-term benefits, the long-term effect can not be overshadowed. Dictators do not associate with international counties; thus, economic growth gets stunted.

Difference Between Authoritarian and Dictator

  1. Under the rule of an authoritarian government, we will find a party ruling the country, but a dictator is the only person to rule the system.
  2. Authoritarians of a particular country follow one ideology, but dictators follow only the personal pursuit of power.
  3. An authoritarian controls the media to some degree but may permit some freedom of expression, whereas dictators rigidly control the media.
  4. Civil rights are limited under the rule of authoritarians. Still, in the case of dictators, civil rights are completely restricted.
  5. An authoritarian does not isolate the country from the rest of the world. In contrast, dictators will separate themselves from international exposure.
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Comparison Between Authoritarian and Dictator

Parameter of ComparisonAuthoritarianDictator
Manner of powerIn this scenario, the ruling party completely controls society and its systems.In this scenario, one person or a small group holds complete power over everything.
DominationIn authoritarianism, we will see the government gradually weaken democracy.Dictators snatch power through a violent or military coup.
IdeologyIt follows a common ideology which can be fascism or communism.It can be called a cult, where an individual is followed blindly by his group.
Treatment of civil rightsHere, the regimes restrict fundamental civil rights such as freedom of speech.A dictator will eliminate all fundamental rights of the civilians.
International relationsAuthoritarian regimes might engage and maintain International relations.Dictators isolate themselves from the outside of their state boundary.

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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