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Authoritarianism describes a form of social control characterized by strict obedience to the authority of a state or organization, often maintaining and enforcing control through the use of oppressive measures. Authoritarian regimes are strongly hierarchical.
In an authoritarian form of government, citizens are subject to state authority in many aspects of their lives, including many matters that other political philosophies would see as erosion of civil liberties and freedom. There are various degrees of authoritarianism; even very democratic and liberal states will show authoritarianism to some extent, for example in areas of national security.
At least one author, John Duckitt, suggests a specific link exists between authoritarianism and collectivism. In both cases individual rights and goals are subjugated to group goals, expectations and confirmities.
The fundamental definition of authoritarianism is a government that has the power to author legislation without consent of those being governed. In this sense, even a representative democracy is authoritarian over periods of years because the public only has the authority to vote the representatives out at election time.