In history, the favorite way of organizing a State is the monarchy; meaning a centralized, pyramidal system controlled by a king (or queen) that may delegate duties (powers) on people they trust but that only respond to their authority. In a monarchy, power comes from the king and those who have access to it get it through the king`s delegation. The succession of power is through inheritance, by blood. This avoids succession struggles as long as the hereditary line is clear. This type of regime does not offer guarantees regarding the ruler`s intellectual or moral qualifications.
The monarchy has been legalized in several ways: in some cases the concept of paternal responsibility, in which the king become a symbolic father and is responsible for the common good. In other cases it is alleged that the king (and his descendants) govern by divine right, by God`s will. In other contexts the king owes his power to the support of the highest social classes, such as the nobility (primus inter pares) or the religious class.
Classic monarchic systems in which the King recognizes no limit to his power are known as absolute monarchies. Where the king is the law and government depends entirety on his judgment. Monarchic absolutism has disappeared in the modem world and old monarchies have become republics or constitutional monarchies where the king lacks real power, retaining only a symbolic value. This system limits the political power of kings by creating autonomous political institutions and electoral systems of succession based on the principle of universal suffrage.
It literally means "the government of the best" A small privileged group, claiming natural superiority, monopolizes political power and the administration of the State. The origin of most aristocracies is mostly military but it is perpetuated by economic power and the social prestige it confers. Wherever aristocracy makes up the dominant economic class, it is difficult to distinguish it from plutocracy.
It literally means "government of the few." We refer to oligarchies and plutocracies when the power of the State is in the hands of privileged sectors that self-perpetuate through family and incorporated groups. When the "few" govern based on ancestry, the concept of "aristocracy" is used. "Plutocracy", on the other hand, refers to wealth. While the first privileges the social class criteria, the second exalts economic power. Sometimes, "oligarchy" and "plutocracy" are used as synonyms to denote government by the rich. Aristotle used the term "aristocracy" to refer to the few that governed for the benefit of all, of the community; and "oligarchy" to refer to the few that governed for themselves.
Tyrannical or dictatorial regimes are those in which there is no limit to the ruler`s power; not even of its own legal code. As in the classic monarchy, government and State become a single entity of political and symbolic meaning. Contrary to absolute monarchies, however, tyranny does not require a legal base beyond the will of a leader to exercise power by force. The only justification is that circumstances require it to be so. Dictatorships have no legal basis (they usually come to be as usurpation outside the law); its only moral base is self-valuation and its only true limitation is the leader`s will.
The theoretical frame that sustains tyrannical regimes is the notion that only a formal authority can act in benefit of society, especially in times of tension between internal sectors or of moments of foreign threat.
We must distinguish between dictatorial and totalitarian regimes. The modern concept of human rights implies that there are areas of citizen behavior that are considered private and over which the State cannot rightfully intervene through legislation or regulation. For example, religious or political party preferences are private matters and the State is not, in a dictatorial regime, authorized to interfere with them legally. When it does, it constitutes an abuse of power. The totalitarian State, however, does not recognize limits to the State and it seeks to govern citizens lives entirely, including the private sphere. In that sense, it is worse than a dictatorial government.
Version: 07101822 Rev. 1