Even though democratic ideas have spread to many parts of the world since 1945, and many people now live in democracies, many states remain authoritarian, with strong rulers and limits placed on the ability of citizens to participate in government. As Brooker (2009: 1) puts it, ‘non-democratic government, whether by elders, chiefs, monarchs, aristocrats, empires, military regimes or one-party states, has been the norm for most of human history’. Certainly, the twentieth century will be remembered at least as much for the dictatorships it spawned — including Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia — as for the democratic transitions at its close. And in spite of the spread of democracy, the most prominent authoritarian states remain internationally significant, whether judged by their economic reach (China), as incubators of terrorism (Afghanistan), by their natural resources (Russia), or by their actual or seemingly intended possession of nuclear weapons (Pakistan and Iran).
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