Wed 10 Sep, 2003 05:10 pm
What are the differences between a Dictatorship, and a Autocracy?
Doing homework, CoftheL? If so, we kind of have an unspoken policy here to not give you the answer but guide you to the use of the Internet to find it:
Not doing homework.
But I was thumbing through my History Book and i saw Autocracy, and it sounded just like a Dictatorship. So I was curious to find out the differences. So do you know?
(Check back after you enter each word for a definition).
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I checked in the Thesaurus and it had Dictatorship listed, and it gave the same basic definition that my book did.
Oh, okay -- if you will get the definitions you'll find they are virtually the same. Dictatorship has more to with the person, autocracy the government. An autocrat can also be a king which isn't necessarily a dictatorship as he may have other governing persons instrumental in the running of the country. It still infers he has the last word. Both words list the other as a synonym.
I got you,
So autocracy is a milder version of dictatorship?
I accidently downloaded the wrong thing, and now i have over 4,000 different cursors.
Historically, a dictatorship is different from a tyranny and an autocracy.
In Ancient Rome, a dictator was a temporary autocrat. An authoritarian interregnum to enforce peace and prevent and avoid incoming chaos.
A tyrant is an autocrat who did not seize power to prevent chaos, but just to enjoy it. And, by definition, is not temporary.
In our modern world, one could say that the Prince of Liechtenstein is an autocrat, Polish General Jaruzelski was a dictator and Korea's Kim Jon Il is a tyrant.
For more info abour this historical distinction, read Norberto Bobbio's Dictionary of Political Terms.
Thanks for all you help LW
If you downloaded Comet Cursor, the tool bar will appear at the bottom of the Explorer tool bars where you will see a place to enter words for the dictionary or encyclopedia and also it's a Google websearch. You also get some fun cursors to change your boring arrow to a fun symbol.
fbaezer is correct that there has been a historical difference between the two words -- journalists and politicians will call the leaders in friendly (?!) Arab countries autocrats but refer to Sadam as a dictator (or tyrant). It's a semantic word game so one is still likely to be confused by anyone other than a qualified historian who usually gets it right.
I have a pier on the ocean right now with a white bird in flight as a cursor (I don't remember if it is a pelican or albatross -- it looks more like a goose).
So I am always busy goosing the online buttons!
Fbaezer is correct on the origin of the term Dictator--the most famous example, revered in the mythic portion of Roman history, and a beacon to former military officers of the American Revolution, was Cincinattus--Cincinatti, Ohio is named for him, indirectly. The dictator was appointed for an emergency when both of the Consuls, the dual-"monarchs," nominated by the Senate and elected by the tribes, were not present. An important distinction between the Dictator and the Consul, however, was that the Dictator had a power of life and death which the Consul did not possess, as it was seen as necessary to an office which only existed in times of an emergent threat to the survival of the civis. The Romans had kicked out the Tarquins (a whole ball of historical wax into which i will not here venture), because of the abuses of Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud), and replaced that majesterial authority with two monarchs, the Consuls, elected for a term of one year. In the ancient city, all public business and the public market were located in the Forum, and the Consul was preceded in his progress through the crowd by the lictors, who carried bundles of canes bound with ribbon, a symbol of the Consuls authority to have anyone driven from the forum (or get a good "licking" from the lictor with one of the canes). The Dictator alone was preceded by a lictor with the bundle of staves, and a ceremonial axe in the center of the bundle, indicative of the Dictator's power to order the immediate execution of anyone. The bundle with the axe included was the faces, the origin of the term facist. If you find an old American dime, the "liberty head" variety, you will find an engraving of a faces on the reverse of that coin.
There is a modern dissonance, however, in the use of the term. Dictators could not legislate, but they could order the lictors, the quaestors, the praetors, or any other public official by saying fiat (i will it) or veto (i forbid it). The modern Dictator is seen as ruling by fiat, and no one would consider that such an individual could not legislate (create law). To that extent, Dictator is often used in a sense other than the ancient Roman office, and ought properly to be called an Autocrat (an omnipotent monarch--all powers of the state residing in the single individual). The Tsars (a corruption of Caesar) were the most recent examples of true autocrats. Although Petr Alexeevitch (Peter the Great) changed the formulary, and all of his successors were technically speaking emperors or empresses, in fact, they largely acted as autocrats. When Petr and his half-brother Ivan were made co-tsars, the title accorded to them each was, "of Great Russia and Little Russia [the Ukraine] and of all the Russias, Autocrat." These individuals could, and Petr definitely did rule by fiat. The last of his successors in the Romanov dynasty did introduce a formalized ministry and an assembly, the Duma, but all significant power continued to reside in the imperial cabinet, until it all fell apart in the later winter of 1917.
The origin of the word tyrant is more obscure. Pisistratus and Cleisthenes were both portrayed as tyrants in ancient Greek texts--they were popular leaders who took control of the city state of Corinth. A basileus was a monarch who derived his power from the sanction of Zeus--the term was resurrected for the Roman emperors in Constantinople after the loss of the western portion of the empire, as the empire became more greek than latin. City states not ruled by monarchs were usually oligarchic (ruled by an elite), or plutocratic (ruled by the wealthy merchants). The earliest use of the word tyrant implies that this was a ruler who attained power by leading a popular movement, and hadn't necessarily the sanction of the priests of Zeus, nor of the aristocracy nor the mercantile class. The term is usually non-perjorative in the earliest texts. It is during the period of the Peloponnesian wars, however, that this changed--when oligarchic and plutocratic governments were pitted against Sparta and the states of the peloponnesus which that city had dragooned into an alliance, the single significant power to oppose Sparta was the Athenian league. This was a loose confederation (in the minds of all participants except the Athenians) of largely plutocratic states located in the greek islands, and on the coast of Asia minor (the west coast of modern Turkey). In his history of the last Peloponnesian War, Thucydides describes how popular demogogues seized power in some states by stirring up the mob (his prejudice was obviously aristocratic, and he served in the war as both diplomat and military man), and this is the era when the term tyrant is applied to rulers in a pejorative sense. Athens enforced participation in the war on the part of those islands and city states which it saw as subject to them, while they had viewed themselves as commercial client states. When the aristocracy and the merchants caved in to Athenian pressure, as was usually the case, popular movements against the Athenians might find a leader, and the Athenian writers invariably refer to them as tyrants. Such a "tyrant" arose at Syracuse on the island of Sicily, and the Athenians quixotically sent an expedition against him, which ended in disaster, and so broke the military power of Athens, that Sparta overwhelmed them. It seems that a good measure of bitterness crept into the definition of tyrant at that point--tyrannikos became a dirty word.
Fascinating question, Boss, thanks. Welcome to the monkey house.
Someone can be an autocrat, dictator and a tyrant all at the same time. Depending on who is writing or speaking, they can be selective depending on how they want to characterize that person. I'm speaking of politicians and journalists (some of which have written histories and even got it wrong there).
I've got the toolbar now, and it is very useful.