Principle of unqualified submission to authority, as opposed to individual freedom of thought and action. As a political system, authoritarianism is antidemocratic in that political power is concentrated in a leader or small elite not constitutionally responsible to those governed. It differs from totalitarianism in that authoritarian governments usually lack a guiding ideology, tolerate some pluralism in social organization, lack the power to mobilize the whole population in pursuit of national goals, and exercise their power within relatively predictable limits. See also absolutism, dictatorship.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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