autocratic form of government which is ruled by a sole leader
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A dictatorship is a form of government characterized by a single leader or group of leaders and little or no toleration for political pluralism or independent programs or media.


  • DICTATOR, n. The chief of a nation that prefers the pestilence of despotism to the plague of anarchy.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • You don't get everything you want.  A dictatorship would be a lot easier.
    • George W. Bush, responding to the difficulties of governing Texas, "The Taming of Texas", Governing Magazine (July 1998); also cited in Is our Children Learning?: The Case Against George W. Bush (2000) by Paul Begala.
  • Under dictatorship, the people in prison are always superior to the people who put them there.
  • Dictatorship—A system of government where everything that is not forbidden is obligatory.
    • Mirza Mohammad Hussain, Islam Versus Socialism, Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf (1970) p. 167. Originally published in 1947.
  • People ask about dictators, "Why?" But dictators themselves ask, "Why not?"
  • Dictatorship rests on control of the military.
    • Timothy K. Kuhner, Capitalism v. Democracy: Money in Politics and the Free Market Constitution (Stanford Law Books: 2014), p. 261. The cited definition is from Michael Walzer, Spheres Of Justice: A Defense Of Pluralism And Equality (Basic Books: 1984), p. 316.
  • Dictatorship... is devoid of humor. The basic reason why Americans will never endure a dictator is... their sense of humor.
    • Emil Ludwig, Three Portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin (1940)
  • Attacking the press is a common ploy of autocrats and dictators who want to hide the truth. They oppose an open press that holds them accountable—and you know a country is in trouble when its leader tries to challenge and undermine press freedoms.
    • Cindy McCain, Stronger (2021)
  • [A]s a practical matter, the President is nearly always made a dictator in wartimes. But if we begin to do that every time Congress thinks there is an emergency, which is the theory we have pursued for some years, it takes very little, after a while, to make an emergency.
    • Robert A. Taft, as quoted in Stathis, S. W. 2009. Burke-Wadsworth Bill (Selective Training and Service Act of 1940) ∗ 1940 ∗. In: 2009. Landmark Debates in Congress: From the Declaration of Independence to the War in Iraq, Washington, DC: CQ Press. pp. 327-336
  • There was a time when all world leaders were dictators, when all leaders gained power through inheritance or through violence. Even the Athenian democratic period of the seventh to fourth centuries BC would not meet modern standards of universal suffrage. Because three of the major figures during World War II, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin, were vicious tyrants, they defined our current understanding of what a dictator is. In the second half of the twentieth century, democracy spread rapidly around the world and became accepted as an almost universal value that now even dictators feel compelled to placate public opinion by staging phony elections.
    • David Wallechinsky, Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators (2006), p. 2
  • Many people who are losing faith in the prospects of liberty look for a paternalistic dictator instead. Authoritarian leaders often rise by evoking the imagined glories of the past and stoking resentment both old and new. At the end of the Cold War, the world seemed to be traveling on a natural "arc" to a more democratic future, but today's new world order has instead become a promising springtime for dictators.
    • Joel Kotkin, The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (2020), p. 9

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