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A polycracy is a state ruled by more than one person, as opposed to monocracy. The word is derived from Greek -- poly which means "many" and kratos which means "rule" or "strength". It is also known as polyarchy.

Many seemingly autocratic states are merely a facade of polycratic societies. Even if one individual acts as a figurehead, they will usually have some sort of support network by which they will rule their nations.

While it has been argued that the Nazi regime was totalitarianistic, it is far more suiting to place it as a polycratic state. Adolf Hitler delegated many responsibilities, and his inferiors (such as Albert Speer), would often fight for power. Speer states that Hermann Göring raced to Hitler's headquarters on hearing of Todt's death, hoping to claim Todt's powers. Hitler instead presented Göring with the fait accompli of Speer's appointment, causing Göring to leave without even attending Todt's funeral.

Also communist regimes are known for the bitter fighting between factions, most famous being Stalin vs Leon Trotsky (the latter was eventually assassinated in Mexico by Ramón Mercader, a Soviet agent.)

There are obvious close links with totalitarianism. In a discussion of contemporary British foreign policy, Mark Curtis stated that "Polyarchy is generally what British leaders mean when they speak of promoting 'democracy' abroad. This is a system in which a small group actually rules and mass participation is confined to choosing leaders in elections managed by competing elites."

Polycracy is currently the most used form of government in our world; most states having a government centered on a parliament and/or lobbies and corporations; thus, even if they define themselves as monarchies or communist or democracies, the actual power is detained by a politic class which is mostly impervious to public scrutiny (see electors, representative democracy, party-state).

In a polycratic society there are by definition a number of groups fighting between themselves for power and depending on the respective state's tradition. They are called clans, lobbies, parties, families or factions. The most important assets for which these groups are fighting are state funded contracts (see military-industrial complex).

These societies will enforce restricting laws (or customs) regarding: rights to bear arms, freedom of information, religious tolerance, women's rights.

Also notable for polycratic states is their tendency to censure mass-media, either by law, or indirectly (by having privately-owned (by one of the groups) media channels, ignoring important developments in social or political life, or masking them with an abundance of irrelevant information, like crimes, entertainment, sport, or celebrity hunting.


  • Speer, Albert (1970), Inside the Third Reich [Translated by Richard and Clara Winston], New York and Toronto: Macmillan, LCCN 70-119132  . Republished in paperback in 1997 by Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-0-684-82949-4
(Original German edition: Speer, Albert (1969), Erinnerungen [Reminiscences], Berlin and Frankfurt am Main: Propyläen/Ullstein, OCLC 639475  )
  • Robert A. Dahl. 1956. A Preface to Democratic Theory. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-13425-3 (paper).
  • Robert A. Dahl. 1972. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. Yale University Press . ISBN 0-300-01565-8 (paper).
  • Mark Curtis, Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World, p. 247, London: Vintage UK Random House. ISBN 0-09-944839-4




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