Despotism

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In political science, despotism (Greek: Δεσποτισμός, romanized: despotismós) is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. Normally, that entity is an individual, the despot (as in an autocracy), but societies which limit respect and power to specific groups have also been called despotic.

Quotes

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  • The fundamental article of my political creed is, that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor; equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody, and in every respect diabolical.
  • Down with the power of the despot, wherever his stronghold may be.
  • Even despotism does not produce its worst effects, so long as Individuality exists under it; and whatever crushes individuality, is despotism, by whatever name it may be called, and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.
  • When despotism has established itself for ages in a country, as in France, it is not in the person of the king only that it resides. It has the appearance of being so in show, and in nominal authority; but it is not so in practice and in fact. It has its standard everywhere. Every office and department has its despotism, founded upon custom and usage. Every place has its Bastille, and every Bastille its despot. The original hereditary despotism resident in the person of the king, divides and sub-divides itself into a thousand shapes and forms, till at last the whole of it is acted by deputation. This was the case in France; and against this species of despotism, proceeding on through an endless labyrinth of office till the source of it is scarcely perceptible, there is no mode of redress. It strengthens itself by assuming the appearance of duty, and tyrannises under the pretence of obeying.
  • Despots themselves don't deny that freedom is a wonderful thing, they only want to limit it to themselves; they argue that everyone else is unworthy of it.
    • Alexis de Tocqueville L'Ancien régime et la révolution (Paris: Michel L évy Frères, [1856] 1859) p. 21; François Furet and Françoise Mélonio (eds.), Alan S. Kahan (trans.) The Old Regime and the Revolution vol. 1, p. 88.
    • Original text:
      Les despotes eux-mêmes ne nient pas que la liberté ne soit excellente; seulement ils ne la veulent que pour eux-mêmes, et ils soutiennent que tous les autres en sont tout à fait indignes.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

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Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 825.
  • Think'st thou there is no tyranny but that
    Of blood and chains? The despotism of vice—
    The weakness and the wickedness of luxury—
    The negligence—the apathy—the evils
    Of sensual sloth—produce ten thousand tyrants,
    Whose delegated cruelty surpasses
    The worst acts of one energetic master,
    However harsh and hard in his own bearing.
  • Men are still men. The despot's wickedness
    Comes of ill teaching, and of power's excess,—
    Comes of the purple he from childhood wears,
    Slaves would be tyrants if the chance were theirs.

See also

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