Authoritarianism is a political and social system in which free thought and plurality are limited, sometimes severely so, for the sake of the survival of a rigid regime. Mass participation is coerced, and subservience to the regime’s authority is expected. Obedience of the people is held as a virtue, and dissension is not tolerated. Obedience and conformity are enforced particularly strongly among the ruling elite because authoritarian leaders recognize the grave danger of rebellion among the politically active elite. Political activities and participation among the masses is severely constrained and controlled.

These conditions are most commonly met under totalitarian or dictatorial governments, such as 21st-century China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea. However, there can also be elements of authoritarianism in oligarchies, monarchies, or ...

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