Authoritarianism is a driving force of war, both at home and abroad. But what exactly is authoritarianism and what are the strategies to resist it? The War Resisters League’s Editorial Committee invites pitches for articles that can help us both amplify ongoing work resisting this political phenomenon and clarify opportunities for antiwar and antimilitarist movements to understand and organize against it.
When we sat down to discuss rising authoritarianism around the world, we quickly realized it would be helpful to think in the plural authoritarianisms to account for the myriad forms of authoritarianism. Authoritarianism can manifest itself through the state or through privately organized groups, under the banner of explicit fascism (such as the Golden Dawn in Greece or the Alternative for Germany), as counter-revolutionary forces (like Hezbollah, which worked against both the Syrian and Lebanese revolutions), and as reactionary forces (like the Sisi regime in Egypt). Authoritarians can come into power via a military coup like the one in 1973 that brought the long-ruling Pinochet regime into power in Chile. Some authoritarians are also monarchs, like Mohamad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia but they can also be elected, like right-wing demagogue Donald Trump. Another category are those presidents who are “elected” in sham elections like Cameroon’s Paul Biya, who has been in power for over 45 years and is the world’s longest-ruling, non-royal politician. It is important to name this because there are false perceptions of who can be authoritarian and how they come into power—indeed, authoritarians and authoritative culture can exist under any political context.