24 November, online

In the last decade, autocratic regimes and illiberal political movements have been on the rise around the world. Recent scholarship has drawn attention to the decline of democracy and the resilience of autocracies. The goal of this workshop is to analyze and discuss the relationship between concepts of autocracy, revolution, and republicanism between 1789 and 1945. The intellectual history of autocracy is linked to ancient notions of tyranny, despotism and dictatorship. However, following the French Revolution, new concepts of autocracy emerged with the overthrow of absolute monarchy. This is true of the autocratic forms of government spearheaded by Robespierre with the Terror and by Napoleon Bonaparte with the Consulate and the coup d’état of the Eighteenth Brumaire. In the 19th century, concepts such as “Bonapartism,” “dictatorship of the saber” (Donoso Cortés), “tyranny of the majority” (Tocqueville), “dictatorship of the proletariat” (Marx and Engels), and others were developed. In Latin America, the phenomenon of caudillismo of military leaders developed in the context of the wars of independence. In the 20th century, well-known terms, including totalitarianism and fascism emerged. The Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship were the prelude to concepts such as caudillaje. Theorists like Carl Schmitt in Nazi Germany and Sergio Panunzio in fascist Italy defended autocracies in order to put an end to parliamentary democracy.

The Workshop is particularly interested in addressing the following topics:

– Models of autocratic government (from antiquity to modern times: tyranny, dictatorship, monarchy – absolutism, etc.)

– Connections between autocracy and democracy/republicanism

– Forms of autocracy (social, political, economic, etc., also gendered forms of authority, and forms of dependency, such as slavery, economic exploitation)

– Relationship between autocracy and (the absence) of rights

– Relationship between autocracy and anarchy (concepts such as popular tyranny, etc.)

Organizers: Ariane Viktoria Fichtl (University of Turin) and Carlos Perez-Crespo (University of Hamburg)

This workshop is one in a series of ECR events supported by the ISIH and designed by ECRs, for ECRs. For more information about our ECR events, or to propose your own, click here.