These concerns are especially pressing given the resurgence of political authoritarianism in the twenty-first century. Indeed the new millennium has been witness to the appearance and strengthening of explicitly despotic and non-democratic regimes, notably Russia and China, all extolling their exclusive ability to properly and successfully guide their country’s market transition. Just as worrying has been the growth of “illiberal democracies” (Zakaria, 1997; Velasco, 2013) whose authoritarian social policies belie their stated formal democratic institutions and economic commitment to liberalization. Somewhat less explored but in a similar vein have been fears regarding the authoritarian characteristics of established liberal democratic nations within “developed” liberal democratic capitalist economies associated with such policies as the “War on Terror” and “War on Drugs” (Henry et al., 2005; Steger, 2008). Many continue to fear the strengthening of the so-called “imperial executive” within these nominally democratic regimes in the new millennium (Schlesinger, 2004; O’Hehir, 2014; Yuhan, 2004).
What is at the root of this emerging and seemingly universal rise of “authoritarian capitalism”? How, specifically, are contemporary processes of economic globalization not only not diminishing these established forms of authoritarianism but positively contributing and reinforcing them in the present era? To answer these questions it is necessary to approach anew a more fundamental question - what is the general relationship between economic capitalism and political authoritarianism? In addressing this deeper concern it is then possible to begin addressing how globalization is currently reflective of and evolving this relationship in the making of diverse forms of “authoritarian capitalism.” Crucial to such an investigation is to ask in what ways is the structural spread of capitalism internationally giving rise to renewed desires for an authoritarian politics and the legitimization of authoritarian policies?