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Patrimonialism is a form of governance in which all power flows directly from the leader. This constitutes essentially the blending of the public and private sector. These regimes are autocratic or oligarchic and exclude the upper and middle classes from power. The leaders of these countries typically enjoy absolute personal power. Usually, the armies of these countries are loyal to the leader, not the nation.

Max Weber

Weber wrote of Patrimonialism as a form of traditional domination. Initially it was centered on family structures, particularly on the authority of fathers within families, in other words patriarchy
Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination...

. But patriarchy only describes the earlier, smaller form. For Weber, patrimonial monarchies and similar forms of government were projections of patriarchy (the rule of the father within the family) onto a broader set of social relationships. There are two main forms of patrimonialism in Weber's analysis of traditional authority (domination). One form of patrimonialism is characterised by a top-down structure where the emperor or sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 rules on the basis of his own legitimate authority through traditional bureaucratic officials (e.g. eunuchs). In principle the Roman Catholic Church is patrimonial in this traditional sense, with the Pope the Patrimonial Ruler. The other form of patrimonialism is still top down but it approaches the Ideal Type of Western European Feudalism, with a basis for legitimate authority outside of the central ruler's authority. In 12th century France or England, for example, it could have consisted of the knightly aristocracy. This feudal form of patrimonialism eventually evolved into Constitutional Monarchy. The U.S. Senate is a vestige of the House of Lords in England. The Lords were literally the peers of the realm. Weber's overarching argument was that with modernity, traditional bureaucratic patrimonial forms of government eventually gave way to modern capitalist bureaucratic rationalism as the main principle of both government and governance.

Nathan Quimpo

Nathan Quimpo defines patrimonialism as "a type of rule in which the ruler does not distinguish between personal and public patrimony and treats matters and resources of state as his personal affair."

Julia Adams

Julia Adams, a sociologist at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, argues for increased application of the term.

J. I. (Hans) Bakker

J. I. (Hans) Bakker, a sociologist at The University of Guelph, has applied the ideal type to the history of Indonesia in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial days.


Modern and Contemporary Hungarian achademics support the postulate that in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 the Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

 existed as a Patrimonialistic Kingdom (in Hungarian Language
Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

: Patrimoniális királyság) where the King was the supreme owner of the Kingdom's lands.
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, before and during the Suharto administration, is often cited as being patrimonial in its political-economy.

A strikingly large proportion of 20th century praetorian regimes emerged in countries that had been occupied by the USA. Examples include Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's regime after the American intervention in 1953, the regimes of the Somozas, Duvalier
Duvalier is a surname, and may refer to:* François Duvalier , nicknamed "Papa Doc", President of Haiti * Jean-Claude Duvalier , nicknamed "Baby Doc", son of François Duvalier and President of Haiti...

s and Trujillo (their countries were occupied by US marines 1912-33, 1915–34 and 1916–24), and Batista's regime in Cuba.

An enormous irony is that by toppling the native landowners, officers and bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

, the Americans created just the sort of regime that could be overthrown by Communist and Islamic revolutionaries. Attempts at Islamic revolution in Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Communist revolutions in Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 have failed because of the strength of native institutions. The revolutions in Cuba, Nicaragua and Iran would have almost certainly not happened if it were not for American interventionism.

Usually, the upper and middle classes have too much to lose from revolutions, this is not the case in Patrimonial regimes. For example, the Nicaraguan middle classes switched support to the Sandinistas after Somoza expropriated funds meant to help victims of the earthquake in Managua
Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua as well as the department and municipality by the same name. It is the largest city in Nicaragua in terms of population and geographic size. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Xolotlán or Lake Managua, the city was declared the national capital in...