Historical Terms: Caesarism

Caesarism: Governmental system similar to that established by Julius Caesar (101-44 BC) in ancient Rome, that is, a semi-popular system of dictatorship, the dictator being enabled to seize power by the support of the army, a party or section of the people. Once in power, the dictator preserves the outward democratic forms with impotent parliaments, rigged elections and manipulations of the plebiscite. The property-owning class has its privileges and power curtailed, but is still protected from the poor. Egalitarian sentiments are expressed and the dictator claims to derive power from the people. Bonapartism is a variant of the model. Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), the German political philosopher, held that Caesarism would replace democracy in the 20th century since it was a trend to emerge in all civilizations at a certain point in their development.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

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