Discussion Starter · #1 ·
7 minutes into the video - "young people can not be trusted to form their own opinion."
Despotism is a form of government by a single authority, either an individual or tightly knit group, which rules with absolute political power. In its classical form, a despotism is a state where a single individual, the Despot, wields all the power and authority embodying the state and everyone else is a subsidiary person. This form of despotism was common in the first forms of statehood and civilization; the Pharaoh of Egypt is exemplary of the classical Despot.
The term now implies tyrannical rule. Despotism can mean absolutism (dominance through threat of punishment and violence) or dictatorship (a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator, not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)
However, in enlightened absolutism (also known as benevolent or enlightened despotism), which came to prominence in 18th century Europe, absolute monarchs used their authority to institute a number of reforms in the political systems and societies of their countries. This movement was probably largely triggered by the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment.
This 10-minute film from Encyclopedia Britannica Films features Dr. Harold D. Lasswell of Yale, who was a professor of law and of political science at the school while both our current and our most recent presidents were students there.
The film, produced in the immediate aftermath of World War II, presents a spectrum from democracy to despotism. And it begins with this cautionary note:
Avoid the comfortable idea that the mere form of government can of itself safeguard a nation against despotism. ... When a competent observer looks for signs of despotism in a community, he looks beyond fine words and noble phrases.