Atrium Catalogue

Architecture of Totalitarian Regimes

of the XXth Century in Urban Management

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Glossary Dictatorship


A dictatorship is an authoritarian political system in which power is held by a dictator or by an oligarchy. The exercise of power is unrestricted by law, constitutions or social forces, even where these may be formally present or their role acknowledged. Dictatorship is the opposite of democracy even though it may seek to assert its legitimacy by means of plebiscites or some notion of representativeness (as in the Leninist idea of ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’). For fascists, wedded to an ideology of the state, dictatorship is superior to democracy because it transcends sectoral interests to assert a supposedly common will. Historians have argued over whether given dictatorships are ‘strong’ or ‘weak’, using this distinction to assess the degree of social and political control achieved.
Last updated on 20 May 2013 10:58