Authoritarian and totalitarian autocracies are both representative of a strong, central, and repressive governments. However, they differ to the degree to which methods of control and oppression are implemented. An authoritative autocracy has a central government that controls all aspects of the political process and governance. However, there is a limited aspect of political freedom carefully monitored by the government.
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Any real political opposition is suppressed along with societal freedoms when necessary. An authoritative government positions itself as an entity (leader or party) that has to remain in power in order to deal with recognizable social issues, and a strict rule is necessary. Authoritarian governments commonly come into power through force, such as a military coup, and seek to consolidate power. While authoritarian autocracies seek full political power and seek to establish control of governance and authority, there are existing institutions and aspects of public life outside of that control. A good example of such authoritarian rule in the modern-day would be Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, who maintains a tight grip on political power and maintains control, but there are limits to his government’s reach.
Meanwhile, a totalitarian autocracy goes one step further by assuming full and total control of its jurisdiction. It seeks to control all aspects of politics, government, culture, social aspects, and even private life. There are virtually no limitations of any kind on government’s control in a totalitarian state. The extent of control goes as far as manipulating religion, education, morality, and, commonly, reproductive rights. Similarly to an authoritarian autocracy, the totalitarian state focuses on a single leader or party. However, the centered approach of totalitarianism creates an ideology around that leadership and often a cult of personality (Dominguez, n.d.).
Totalitarian leaders rule by control, fear, and violence – eliminating any entities which do not concede to its rule of law. An example in modern-day of a totalitarian state is North Korea, ruled by Kim Jung-Un.
Dominguez, J. I. (n.d.). The perfect dictatorship? Web.