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Autarchy vs. Autocracy — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 16, 2024
Autarchy is a self-sufficient economy, avoiding external trade, whereas autocracy is a system of government where power is concentrated in the hands of one individual.
Autarchy vs. Autocracy — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Autarchy and Autocracy


Key Differences

Autarchy focuses on economic independence and self-sufficiency, emphasizing local production and minimal reliance on imports. Whereas autocracy concerns governmental structure, where a single ruler or a small group holds absolute power, often with little or no effective opposition.
In autarchy, the primary goal is to sustain national economies by producing all necessary goods internally, reducing economic vulnerability. On the other hand, autocracy deals with the concentration of political power, which can lead to centralized decision-making and potentially oppressive governance.
While autarchy can be adopted by democratic or non-democratic states as an economic strategy, particularly during crises or in highly protective economies, autocracy generally implies a lack of democracy, with decisions made unilaterally by the ruling authority.
Autarchy may be pursued to enhance economic security and control over resources, guarding against global economic fluctuations. Whereas autocracy often arises from a desire for political control and stability, which can come at the expense of civil liberties and political freedoms.
Economic policies in autarchic systems are typically characterized by tariffs, quotas, and bans on certain imports to support domestic industries. Conversely, in autocracies, economic policies may also be heavily influenced or dictated by the rulers' needs or whims, regardless of broader economic theory or practice.

Comparison Chart


Economic system focused on self-sufficiency.
Form of government with concentrated power.

Key Focus

Economic independence from other nations.
Centralization of political power.

Common in

Both democratic and non-democratic regimes.
Typically non-democratic regimes.

Policy Tools

Tariffs, quotas, production incentives.
Laws, decrees, executive orders.

Impact on Society

Primarily economic.
Broad, affecting all aspects of governance and life.

Compare with Definitions


An economic strategy to reduce dependency on imports.
The government's push for autarchy increased local manufacturing jobs.


A form of governance with no meaningful checks or balances.
The autocracy decided all economic policies without opposition.


A national economic policy aimed at self-sufficiency.
The country adopted autarchy to avoid reliance on volatile international markets.


A political system characterized by the centralization of power.
The autocracy maintained strict control over the media.


A system where a country attempts to produce all it needs by itself.
During the blockade, the nation moved towards autarchy.


A regime where a single ruler or small group wields absolute authority.
Under the autocracy, political dissent was severely punished.


The condition of being self-sufficient at an economic level.
Autarchy was seen as a means to strengthen national sovereignty.


A rule where decisions are made unilaterally by the supreme ruler.
The autocracy implemented laws that benefited only the elite.


A policy of limited economic engagement with the global market.
By pursuing autarchy, the country aimed to protect its farmers and producers.


A government system where power is concentrated in the hands of one individual.
The king ruled his country through autocracy.


Absolute rule or power; autocracy.


Autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power over a state is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of coup d'état or other forms of rebellion).In earlier times, the term autocrat was coined as a favorable description of a ruler, having some connection to the concept of "lack of conflicts of interests" as well as an indication of grandeur and power. This use of the term continued into modern times, as the Russian Emperor was styled "Autocrat of all the Russias" as late as the early 20th century.


A country under such rule.


Government by a single person having unlimited power; despotism.


Variant of autarky.


A country or state that is governed by a single person with unlimited power.


A policy of national self-sufficiency and nonreliance on imports or economic aid.


(uncountable) A form of government in which unlimited power is held by a single individual.


A self-sufficient region or country.


(countable) An instance of this government.


A condition of absolute power


Independent or self-derived power; absolute or controlling authority; supremacy.
The divine will moves, not by the external impulse or inclination of objects, but determines itself by an absolute autocracy.


(government) Autocracy absolute rule by a single person.


Supreme, uncontrolled, unlimited authority, or right of governing in a single person, as of an autocrat.


(politics) Sovereignty or self-government national political independence.


Political independence or absolute sovereignty (of a state); autonomy.


Alternative spelling of autarky


The action of the vital principle, or of the instinctive powers, toward the preservation of the individual; also, the vital principle.


Self-sufficiency, especially economic self-sufficiency as applied to nations.


A political system governed by a single individual


Same as autarky.


A political theory favoring unlimited authority by a single individual


Economic independence as a national policy


A political system governed by a single individual

Common Curiosities

What is autocracy?

Autocracy is a form of government where power is concentrated in the hands of one person or a small group.

What are the typical features of an autocratic regime?

Centralized power, lack of democratic processes, and often, suppression of political opposition.

How does autarchy affect international relations?

Autarchy often leads to reduced international trade, which can strain relations with countries that are trading partners.

How do citizens typically respond to autarchic policies?

Responses can vary, but extensive autarchic policies may lead to discontent if they result in economic hardships or lack of goods.

Can a country be both autarchic and autocratic?

Yes, a country can adopt autarchic policies for economic reasons while being governed autocratically.

Why do some leaders prefer autocracy?

Autocracy allows for swift decision-making and control, which some leaders may prefer for maintaining stability and control.

What drives a nation towards autarchy?

Economic threats, desire for sovereignty, and protectionist sentiments can drive a nation towards autarchy.

What is autarchy?

Autarchy is an economic policy focusing on self-sufficiency and minimal external trade.

Is autarchy considered economically beneficial?

While autarchy can provide economic security during crises, over the long term it may lead to inefficiencies and reduced innovation.

Can autocracy have any positive outcomes?

In some contexts, autocracy might bring about rapid decisions and implementations, which can be seen as beneficial during certain emergencies.

How does autocracy affect economic policies?

In an autocracy, economic policies may reflect the desires of the rulers rather than the broader economic needs of the country.

What are the risks of autocracy?

Autocracy can lead to abuse of power, corruption, and a lack of accountability, potentially resulting in widespread human rights violations.

What is the global perspective on autarchy and autocracy?

Both are generally viewed negatively in a globalized world that values interdependence and democratic governance.

What historical examples exist of autarchic or autocratic regimes?

Historical examples include Nazi Germany's economic policies under Hitler (autarchic) and Stalin's Soviet Union (autocratic).

How do autarchic and autocratic policies interact?

Autarchic economic policies can be easily implemented under autocratic governance due to the centralized control over national policy-making.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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