Authoritarian Rule Can Be Legitimate

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To determine whether or not authoritarian rule can be legitimate, we must first start at the very beginning. By this I mean we have to be specific about what we are asking. Let us first define legitimacy. When attempting to define legitimacy, we already run into problems. Is legitimacy the control and use of force over a given territory? Or is it international recognition by the governments and diplomats of the international community? What about the people over which the authoritarians rule? Do they determine the degree of legitimacy? For the purposes of this paper, I will discuss the legitimacy of authoritarian regimes in terms of its acceptance by the international community, as well as the role of the ruled people in determining legitimacy. Essentials of Comparative Politics defines an authoritarian regime as “a political system in which a small group of individuals exercises power over the state without being constitutionally responsible to the public.” It is important to keep in mind that such a regime can be made up of numerous individuals, and not just one person as it is commonly thought of. A regime run by only one person would be known as an autocracy, whereas a group rule would be known as an oligarchy. There are also many different kinds of rulers that an autocrat could be. One example would be a dictator, where the ruler is only interested in accomplishing his goals and shows no care for the interests of the state. Another example would be the
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