Autocracy vs. Dictator

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Autocracy and Dictator is that the Autocracy is a system of government and Dictator is a person who leads a dictatorship.

  • Autocracy

    An autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power (social and political) is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of a coup d’état or mass insurrection). Absolute monarchy (such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Brunei and Swaziland) and dictatorships (such as North Korea) are the main modern-day forms of autocracy.

    In earlier times, the term “autocrat” was coined as a favorable feature of the ruler, having some connection to the concept of “lack of conflicts of interests” as well as an indication of grandeur and power. The Russian Tsar for example was styled, “Autocrat of all the Russias”, as late as the early 20th century.

  • Dictator

    A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power and wields it in an oppressive manner. A state of which is ruled by a dictator is called a dictatorship. The word originated as the title of a magistrate in the Roman Republic appointed by the Senate to rule the republic in times of emergency (see Roman dictator and justitium).

    Like the term “tyrant” (which was originally a respectable Ancient Greek title), and to a lesser degree “autocrat”, “dictator” came to be used almost exclusively as a non-titular term for oppressive, even abusive rule, yet it had rare modern titular use.

    In modern usage, the term “dictator” is generally used to describe a leader who holds and/or abuses an extraordinary amount of personal power, especially the power to make laws without effective restraint by a legislative assembly. Dictatorships are often characterised by some of the following traits: suspension of elections and civil liberties; proclamation of a state of emergency; rule by decree; repression of political opponents without abiding by the rule of law procedures; these include one-party state, and cult of personality.

    The term “dictator” is comparable to – but not synonymous with – the ancient concept of a tyrant; initially “tyrant”, like “dictator”, did not carry negative connotations. A wide variety of leaders coming to power in a number of different kinds of regimes, such as military juntas, one-party states and civilian governments under a personal rule, have been described as dictators. They may hold left or right-wing views, or they may be apolitical.

  • Autocracy (noun)

    A form of government in which unlimited power is held by a single individual.

  • Autocracy (noun)

    An instance of this government.

  • Dictator (noun)

    A totalitarian leader of a country, nation, or government.

    “Dictators are always punished eventually.”

  • Dictator (noun)

    A magistrate without colleague in republican Ancient Rome, who held full executive authority for a term granted by the senate (legislature), typically to conduct a war.

  • Dictator (noun)

    A tyrannical boss or authority figure.

  • Dictator (noun)

    A person who dictates text (e.g. letters to a clerk).


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