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Authoritarian is a word that is said to have been borrowed from the French authoritaire (this after French auteur , as the German word author is derived from the Latin auctor ) at the end of the 19th century . In contrast to authority , which was derived from the Latin auctoritas in the 15th century , it also goes back to the Latin auctor .

The word is ambiguous, with a negative critical main meaning predominating today.

Neutral, but designated as “obsolete”, is understood to mean “based on authority ” or “endowed with authority”. Elsewhere, the meaning is also described as "endowed with superior power by virtue of its own perfect power".

At the end of the 1920s, the word “authoritarian” was used by Ernst Jünger and Moeller van den Bruck in a positive sense (in the sense of their political ideology ). In the meantime, a negative main meaning predominates, which is given as “totalitarian, dictatorial” and “ demanding unconditional obedience ”.

Words with a similar meaning ( synonyms ) are then also mentioned: restrictive, eager to rule, independent (in the sense of arbitrary), unconditional, bossy, unrestricted, patronizing, oppressive, absolutist or barbaric.

This prompts us to emphasize that the term and use of the word “authoritarian” and “authority” must be “sharply ... differentiated”.

The main meaning is used in different contexts:

  • Socio-psychologically speaking, one speaks of an authoritarian character or, similarly, of an authoritarian personality and understands this to mean "human characters who are characterized by a pronounced feeling of superiority, excessive claim to power and the subjection of weaker people and thus promote intolerance, dogmatism and lack of freedom."
  • In political science there is talk of authoritarianism as an ideology or of authoritarian regimes , which are characterized by “that they a) severely restrict the possibilities of democratic participation, b) public decision-making processes (freedom of the press, freedom of information) and public debate about political decisions severely hinder and c) limit the pluralistic diversity of interests. "
  • In pedagogy, concepts of authoritarian upbringing and anti- authoritarian upbringing face each other. In the discussion, it must be clarified in each case whether one means authoritarian behavior in its negative main meaning or any authority.

Web links

Wiktionary: authoritarian  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. authoritarian . In: Duden, the dictionary of origin. 2nd edition, Dudenverlag, Mannheim a. a. 1989.
  2. a b c authoritarian ,
  3. authoritarian . In: dtv Lexikon , Mannheim 1990.
  5. ^ Walter Kerber: Social ethics. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart a. a. 1998, para. 143.
  6. a b Klaus Schubert, Martina Klein: Das Politiklexikon . 4th, updated Edition, Dietz, Bonn 2006, quoted from the Federal Agency for Civic Education .