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(From despot: Gr. despotes, a master, lord). Absolute and arbitrary authority. A social and political regime that emerged in the ancient Orient and later in pre-Columbian America. It is based on the centralized redistribution of the socioeconomic wealth produced by agrarian communities and craft guilds, and appropriated by the State. Despotic systems also depend on the practice of pillaging and enslaving neighboring peoples. Thus, the despotic empire cannot survive without continual territorial expansion. The social basis of this system is the caste system, which reproduces d., enchaining each human being to a particular caste and ensuring social immobility. In spiritual matters, d. is linked to the deification of the person of the despot, which is linked to the balance and cycles of natural phenomena, with the idea that human history reproduces the movement of nature (the succession of day and night, seasons, the ebb and flow of the tides, etc.). This phenomenon can also be found in the Middle Ages (the Mongol Empire) and in recent times (the empires of Stalin, Mao, and Hitler, who manifested significant despotic traits, especially in their systems of forced labor and their absolute personal power). A despotic style of rule and administration is still practiced today in some states of Asia and Africa, where the arbitrariness of the leaders and the violence displayed toward their subjects, along with a total disregard for life and human dignity, are the rules of state organization. Examples of this are the states of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

[[category: Dictionary of New Humanism]