Have any contemporary political philosophers argued for autocracy? I know that very few go near fascism anymore (I read this in an encyclopaedia twenty years ago: history completely disproved it all).

a system of government by one person with absolute power.

So, absolute monarchies, dictatorships and so on.

What well documented and scholastic arguments exist for it (please don't invent yours!). Surely someone has failed to reclaim Hobbes e.g..

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    Plenty, especially in Russia and China, but in English literature you'll mostly find only critique of them, e.g. Weiss, Assessing China’s Defense of Autocracy or Kroenig, The Return of Great Power Rivalry.
    – Conifold
    Nov 3, 2022 at 4:20
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    That makes sense. Any ideas of some names for the former @Conifold
    – user63148
    Nov 3, 2022 at 4:22
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    This is a bit of a subtle point, but autocracy is (necessarily) ideological — it depends on mass adherence to some predefined worldview — but ideology is the corruption or actual antithesis of philosophy. Autocrats need to profess a right-to-rule that transcends reason; there's no way to get there from within a reasoned argument. Zealots and ideologues might declaim the virtues of autocracy, but they have no place in philosophy, and their only defense against philosophy is violence and aggression. Nov 3, 2022 at 4:54
  • I always thought we should find the wisest person we can and force them to take the job.
    – Scott Rowe
    Nov 3, 2022 at 21:21
  • Russia, the US and China, UK, perhaps even France are under authoritarian capitalism. I could add other counties as well. For one thing so called democracy cannot handle global warming.
    – Gordon
    Feb 24, 2023 at 22:27

2 Answers 2


I think there is some terminological confusion here:

  • Autocracy means a rule by one person. In a narrower sense it can be seen as a rule that is underlined by certain philosophy/ideology, like in the cases of monarchy (usually justified by divine right) or supreme leader (justified by whatever ideology.) In this narrow sense autocracy is opposed to dictatorship, which is a rule of a single person imposed by force. Sometimes dictatorship would try to justify its existence by appealing to ideology/philosophy (or creating a new one), but one could delineate the two cases by whether these views are really shared by the majority of population or not: e.g., majority of Syrians probably do not support Bashar Assad, but majorities in medieval European countries likely didn't question the kings' divide rights to rule.
  • Fascism is a form of totalitarianism - a kind of philosophies that try to regulate all spheres of human life (including private life), such as Italian and Spanish fascism in mid-XXth century, German National-Socialism, Marxism, Communism as existed in USSR or formerly in China, and Islamic fundamentalism as practiced in modern Iran. Italian and German versions indeed focused on a single personality of a leader, and to some extent this could be extended to North Korea and Cuba, but this is certainly not the case of the USSR, China, and Iran, where the system proved to transcend single individuals (although all these countries new dictatorship-like periods.)
  • Finally, modern socialist-minded public in modern non-authoritarian countries often play with the idea of a philosopher king - often perceived as a better option than possible coming to power of the right-wing party (for example, most American Democrats would probably support idea of banning the Republican party, if it was possible.) There are also suggestions appointing a leader with excessive powers (a benevolent dictator) to deal with problems that modern democracies fail to address, like the Global warming.
  • As a real-world example one could mention the birth of the Fifth Republic in France, intended to cure the ills of preceding parliamentary democracy, and designed specifically to accommodate De Gaulle (with option of two presidential terms of 7 years each.) This is not unlike the extended power in other Presidential republics, like the US. Strengthening power vertical was the official justification for some political reforms in early 2000s in Russia, which included, e.g., abolition election of local governors.
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    @RogerVadim Monarchy means rule by one person, mono (one, alone, only) and archy (rulership, authority). A dictatorship is a rule of one or few people with little to no restrictions placed upon them, such as absolute monarchs. And an autocrat is a dictator that is self-legitimizing (auto=self) so no restriction or legitimization, aka despotism, tyranny or a subset of a dictatorship. Also whether the USSR and the so-called communist dictatorships fit the label of fascism depends on the definition. They often don't but still fit totalitarianism so maybe just stick with that label.
    – haxor789
    Feb 23, 2023 at 13:15
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    @RogerVadim ... And totalitarianism is defined as the highest form of authoritarianism which has an extremely high form of rejecting opposition. Which is probably more suitable than "all regulating", like if there's a law arguing "it's not specified how something ought to be done" than it's technically still regulated, so even liberal systems might be all regulating, with a drastically different meaning. And bullet point 3 seems to be some pretty biased points that are in desperate need of citation...
    – haxor789
    Feb 23, 2023 at 13:19

Alexander Dugin has been called the most dangerous philosopher in the world.

You can find on his site justifications for authoritarianism where FDR, Lee Kuan Yew and Putin are depicted as equally praiseworthy authoritarian leaders.

In contrast he invokes Chris Hedges to disparage USA as dangling between autocracy and oligarchy.

Finally in response to Ted Wrigley who claims that autocracy and philosophy are not compatible I would like to remind about a certain illiberal old philosopher for whom Whitehead said: All Western philosophy is just footnotes to him. And in his political philosophy he was virulently anti democratic.

Expectedly, Dugin is a staunch Platonist

In more modern times both Gandhi and Thoreau were suspicious of democracy. In fact Thoreau's essay's title Civil Disobedience became the inspiration and foundation for Gandhi's satyagraha.

On the contemporary scene there's Jeffrey Sachs who (impersonating Aristotle!) claims the following table

Rule by Good Bad
the one monarchy tyranny
the few aristocracy oligarchy
the many republic democracy!

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