Dictatorship

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From left to right: Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Hitler's policies and orders both directly and indirectly resulted in the deaths of about 50 million people in Europe. Together with the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin, they have marked the inception of the "totalitarian regimes". Hitlermusso2 edit.jpg
From left to right: Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Hitler's policies and orders both directly and indirectly resulted in the deaths of about 50 million people in Europe. Together with the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin, they have marked the inception of the "totalitarian regimes".

A dictatorship is an authoritarian form of government, characterized by a single leader or group of leaders with either no party or a weak party, little mass mobilization, and limited political pluralism. [2] According to other definitions, democracies are regimes in which "those who govern are selected through contested elections"; therefore dictatorships are "not democracies". [2] With the advent of the 19th and 20th centuries, dictatorships and constitutional democracies emerged as the world's two major forms of government, gradually eliminating monarchies, one of the traditional widespread forms of government of the time. Typically, in a dictatorial regime, the leader of the country is identified with the title of dictator, although their formal title may more closely resemble something similar to "leader". A common aspect that characterized dictators is taking advantage of their strong personality, usually by suppressing freedom of thought and speech of the masses, in order to maintain complete political and social supremacy and stability. Dictatorships and totalitarian societies generally employ political propaganda to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems. [3] [4]

Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong central power and limited political freedoms. Individual freedoms are subordinate to the state and there is no constitutional accountability under an authoritarian regime. Juan Linz's influential 1964 description of authoritarianism characterized authoritarian political systems by four qualities:

  1. Limited political pluralism, that is such regimes place constraints on political institutions and groups like legislatures, political parties and interest groups;
  2. A basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognizable societal problems" such as underdevelopment or insurgency;
  3. Minimal social mobilization most often caused by constraints on the public such as suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity;
  4. Informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting powers.
Democracy system of government in which citizens vote directly in or elect representatives to form a governing body, sometimes called "rule of the majority"

Democracy is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association. "Rule of the majority" is sometimes referred to as democracy. Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes.

Monarchy system of government where the head of state position is inherited within family

A monarchy is a form of government in which a group, generally a group of people representing a dynasty (aristocracy), embodies the country's national identity and its head, the monarch, exercises the role of supreme sovereignty. The actual power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic, to partial and restricted, to completely autocratic. Traditionally the monarch's post is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. In contrast, elective monarchies require the monarch to be elected. Both types have further variations as there are widely divergent structures and traditions defining monarchy. For example, in some elected monarchies only pedigrees are taken into account for eligibility of the next ruler, whereas many hereditary monarchies impose requirements regarding the religion, age, gender, mental capacity, etc. Occasionally this might create a situation of rival claimants whose legitimacy is subject to effective election. There have been cases where the term of a monarch's reign is either fixed in years or continues until certain goals are achieved: an invasion being repulsed, for instance.

Contents

Etymology

The word "dictator" comes from the classical Latin language word dictātor, agent noun from dictare (dictāt-, past participial stem of dictāre dictate v. + -or -or suffix.) [5] In Latin use, a dictator was a judge in the Roman republic temporarily invested with absolute power.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets, and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

In linguistics, an agent noun is a word that is derived from another word denoting an action, and that identifies an entity that does that action. For example, "driver" is an agent noun formed from the verb "drive".

Types of dictatorships

Right after the end of World War II, with a more relaxed political and social climate, several studies regarding the classification of various forms of government have been conducted. Among these, has been intensely discussed by historians and political scientists the conceptualization and definition of the dictatorship form of government. Eventually, it has been concluded that dictatorship is a form of government in which the absolute power is concentrated in the hands of a leader (commonly identified as a dictator), a "small clique", or a "government organization", and it aims the abolition of political pluralism and civilian mobilization. [6] On the other hand, democracy, which is generally compared to the concept of dictatorship, is defined as a form of government where the supremacy belongs to the population and rulers are elected through contested elections. [7] [8]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Dictator in government, an absolutist or autocratic ruler who assumes sole power over the state

A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A state which is ruled by a dictator is called a dictatorship. The word originated as the title of a magistrate in the Roman Republic appointed by the Senate to rule the republic in times of emergency.

Election process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office

An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.

A new form of government that, in the 20th century, marked the beginning of a new political era and is commonly linked to the concept of dictatorship, is known as totalitarianism. This form of government is characterized by the presence of a single political party and more specifically, by a powerful leader (a real role model) who imposes his personal and political prominence. The two fundamental aspects that contribute to the maintenance of the power are: a steadfast collaboration between the government and the police force, and a highly developed ideology. Here, the government has "total control of mass communications and social and economic organizations". [9] According to Hannah Arendt, totalitarianism is a new and extreme form of dictatorship composed of "atomized, isolated individuals". [10] In addition, she affirmed that ideology plays a leading role in defining how the entire society should be organized. According to the political scientist Juan Linz, the distinction between an authoritarian regime and a totalitarian one is that while an authoritarian regime seeks to suffocate politics and political mobilization, totalitarianism seeks to control politics and political mobilization. [11]

Totalitarianism political system in which the state holds total authority

Totalitarianism is a political concept of a mode of government that prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism. Political power in totalitarian states has often been held by rule by one leader which employ all-encompassing propaganda campaigns broadcast by state-controlled mass media. Totalitarian regimes are often marked by political repression, personality cultism, control over the economy, restriction of speech, mass surveillance and widespread use of state terrorism. Historian Robert Conquest describes a "totalitarian" state as one recognizing no limits to its authority in any sphere of public or private life and which extends that authority to whatever length feasible.

A role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. The term role model is credited to sociologist Robert K. Merton, who coined the phrase during his career. Merton hypothesized that individuals compare themselves with reference groups of people who occupy the social role to which the individual aspires. An example being the way young fans will idolize and imitate professional athletes or entertainment artists.

Hannah Arendt Jewish-American philosopher and political theorist

Johanna "Hannah" Cohn Arendt was a German philosopher and political theorist. Her many books and articles on topics ranging from totalitarianism to epistemology have had a lasting influence on political theory. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century.

However, one of the most recent classification of dictatorships, formulated, do not identify Totalitarianism as a form of dictatorship. In Barbara Geddes's study, she focused in how elite-leader and elite-mass relations influence authoritarian politics. Geddes typology identifies the key institutions that structure elite politics in dictatorships (i.e. parties and militaries). The study is based and directly related to factors like: the simplicity of the categorizations, cross-national applicability, the emphasis on elites and leaders, and the incorporation of institutions (parties and militaries) as central to shaping politics. According to Barbara Geddes, a dictatorial government may be classified in five typologies: Military Dictatorships, Single-party Dictatorships, Personalist Dictatorships, Monarchies, Hybrid Dictatorships. [10]

Military dictatorships

Military dictatorships are regimes in which a group of officers holds power, determines who will lead the country, and exercises influence over policy. High-level elites and a leader are the members of the military dictatorship. Military dictatorships are characterized by rule by a professionalized military as an institution. In military regimes, elites are referred to as junta members; they are typically senior officers (and often other high-level officers) in the military. [10] [12]

Elite group or class of persons enjoying superior intellectual or social or economic status

In political and sociological theory, the elite are a small group of powerful people who hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, political power, or skill in a society. Defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, the "elite" are "those people or organizations that are considered the best or most powerful compared to others of a similar type."

Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to "lead" or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations. Specialist literature debates various viewpoints, contrasting Eastern and Western approaches to leadership, and also United States versus European approaches. U.S. academic environments define leadership as "a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task".

Single-party dictatorships

Single-party dictatorships are regimes in which one party dominates politics. In single-party dictatorships, a single party has access to political posts and control over policy. Other parties may legally exist, compete in elections, and even hold legislative seats, yet true political power lies with the dominant party. In single-party dictatorships, party elites are typically members of the ruling body of the party, sometimes called the central committee, politburo, or secretariat. These groups of individuals controls the selection of party officials and "organizes the distribution of benefits to supporters and mobilizes citizens to vote and show support for party leaders". [10]

Personalist dictatorships

Personalist dictatorships are regimes in which all power lies in the hands of a single individual. Personalist dictatorships differ from other forms of dictatorships in their access to key political positions, other fruits of office, and depend much more on the discretion of the personalist dictator. Personalist dictators may be members of the military or leaders of a political party. Yet, neither the military nor the party exercises power independent from the dictator. In personalist dictatorships, the elite corps is usually made up of close friends or family members of the dictator. These individuals are all typically handpicked to serve their posts by the dictator. [10] [13]

Monarchies

King Salman of Saudi Arabia Salman of Saudi Arabia (2017-10-05) 2.jpg
King Salman of Saudi Arabia

Monarchic dictatorships are regimes in which "a person of royal descent has inherited the position of head of state in accordance with accepted practice or constitution". Regimes are not considered dictatorships if the monarch's role is largely ceremonial but absolute monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia can be considered hereditary dictatorships. Real political power must be exercised by the monarch for regimes to be classified as such. Elites in monarchies are typically members of the royal family. [10]

Hybrid dictatorships

Hybrid dictatorships are regimes that blend qualities of personalist, singleparty, and military dictatorships. When regimes share characteristics of all three forms of dictatorships, they are referred to as triple threats. The most common forms of hybrid dictatorships are personalist/single-party hybrids and personalist/military hybrids. [10]

Measuring dictatorships

Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 2016. Blue represents more democratic countries, while yellow and red are considered as hybrid regime and authoritarian, respectively. Most dictatorships are represented as darker shades of red. Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy index.svg
Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 2016. Blue represents more democratic countries, while yellow and red are considered as hybrid regime and authoritarian, respectively. Most dictatorships are represented as darker shades of red.

One of the tasks in political science is to measure and classify regimes as either dictatorships or democracies. Freedom House, Polity IV and Democracy-Dictatorship Index are three of the most used data series by political scientists. [16]

Generally, two research approaches exist: the minimalist approach, which focuses on whether a country has continued elections that are competitive, and the substantive approach, which expands the concept of democracy to include human rights, freedom of the press, and the rule of law. The Democracy-Dictatorship Index is seen as an example of the minimalist approach, whereas the Polity data series, is more substantive. [17] [18] [19] [20]

History

Between the two world wars, four types of dictatorships have been described: Constitutional, Communist (nominally championing the "dictatorship of the proletariat"), Counterrevolutionary and Fascist. Since World War II, a broader range of dictatorships has been recognized, including Third World dictatorships, theocratic or religious dictatorships and dynastic or family-based dictatorships. [21]

Dictators in the Roman Republic

During the Republican phase of Ancient Rome, a Roman dictator was the special magistrate who held well defined powers, normally for six months at a time, usually in combination with a consulship. Roman dictators were allocated absolute power during times of emergency. In execution, their power was originally neither arbitrary nor unaccountable, being subject to law and requiring retrospective justification. There were no such dictatorships after the beginning of the 2nd century BC and later dictators such as Sulla and the Roman Emperors exercised power much more personally and arbitrarily. As the Roman Emperor was a king in all but name, a concept that remained anathema to traditional Roman society, the institution was not carried forward into the Roman Empire.

19th-century Latin American caudillos

Antonio López de Santa Anna wearing Mexican military uniform Santaanna1.JPG
Antonio López de Santa Anna wearing Mexican military uniform

After the collapse of Spanish colonial rule, various dictators came to power in many liberated countries. Often leading a private army, these caudillos or self-appointed political-military leaders, attacked weak national governments once they controlled a region's political and economic powers, with examples such as Antonio López de Santa Anna in Mexico and Juan Manuel de Rosas in Argentina. Such dictators have been also referred to as "personalismos".

The wave of military dictatorships in South America in the second half of the twentieth century left a particular mark on Latin American culture. In Latin American literature, the dictator novel challenging dictatorship and caudillismo is a significant genre. There are also many films depicting Latin American military dictatorships.

Communism and Fascism in 20th-century dictatorships

In the first half of the 20th century, Communist and Fascist dictatorships appeared in a variety of scientifically and technologically advanced countries, which are distinct from dictatorships in Latin America and post-colonial dictatorships in Africa and Asia. Leading examples of modern totalitarian dictatorship include:

Dictatorships in Africa and Asia after World War II

Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire's longtime dictator Prins Bernhard in Zaire (voorheen Belgisch Congo), Bernhard en Mobutu, Bestanddeelnr 926-6037.jpg
Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire's longtime dictator

After World War II, dictators established themselves in the several new states of Africa and Asia, often at the expense or failure of the constitutions inherited from the colonial powers. These constitutions often failed to work without a strong middle class or work against the preexisting autocratic rule. Some elected presidents and prime ministers captured power by suppressing the opposition and installing one-party rule and others established military dictatorships through their armies. Whatever their form, these dictatorships had an adverse impact on economic growth and the quality of political institutions. [22] Dictators who stayed in office for a long period of time found it increasingly difficult to carry out sound economic policies.

The often-cited exploitative dictatorship is the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire from 1965 to 1997, embezzling over $5 billion from his country. [23]

Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier succeeded his father François "Papa Doc" Duvalier as the ruler of Haiti after his death in 1971. Baby Doc.jpg
Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier succeeded his father François "Papa Doc" Duvalier as the ruler of Haiti after his death in 1971.

Democratization

The global dynamics of democratization has been a central question for political scientists. [24] [25] The Third Wave Democracy was said to turn some dictatorships into democracies [24] (see also the contrast between the two figures of the Democracy-Dictatorship Index in 1988 and 2008).

Xi Jinping's term limits were removed in 2018 by the party-controlled National People's Congress, practically entitling him as ruler for life. Xi Jinping March 2017.jpg
Xi Jinping's term limits were removed in 2018 by the party-controlled National People's Congress, practically entitling him as ruler for life.

One of the rationales that the Bush Administration employed periodically during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq is that deposing Saddam Hussein and installing a democratic government in Iraq would promote democracy in other Middle Eastern countries. [26] However, according to The Huffington Post, "The 45 nations and territories with little or no democratic rule represent more than half of the roughly 80 countries now hosting U.S. bases. ... Research by political scientist Kent Calder confirms what's come to be known as the "dictatorship hypothesis": The United States tends to support dictators [and other undemocratic regimes] in nations where it enjoys basing facilities." [27]

Theories of dictatorship

Mancur Olson suggests that the emergence of dictatorships can be linked to the concept of "roving bandits", individuals in an atomic system who move from place to place extracting wealth from individuals. These bandits provide a disincentive for investment and production. Olson states that a community of individuals would be better served if that bandit were to establish himself as a stationary bandit to monopolize theft in the form of taxes. Except from the community, the bandits themselves will be better served, according to Olson, by transforming themselves into "stationary bandits". By settling down and making themselves the rulers of a territory, they will be able to make more profits through taxes than they used to obtain through plunder. By maintaining order and providing protection to the community, the bandits will create a peaceful environment in which their people can maximize their surplus which means a greater taxable base. Thus a potential dictator will have a greater incentive to provide security to a given community from which he is extracting taxes and conversely, the people from whom he extracts the taxes are more likely to produce because they will be unconcerned with potential theft by other bandits. This is the rationality that bandits use in order to justify their transformation from "roving bandits" into "stationary bandits". [28]

See also

Related Research Articles

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.

An autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control. Absolute monarchies and dictatorships are the main modern-day forms of autocracy.

A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of state in which one political party has the right to form the government, usually based on the existing constitution. All other parties are either outlawed or allowed to take only a limited and controlled participation in elections. Sometimes the term de facto one-party state is used to describe a dominant-party system that, unlike the one-party state, allows democratic multiparty elections, but the existing practices or balance of political power effectively prevent the opposition from winning the elections.

The Kirkpatrick Doctrine was the doctrine expounded by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick in the early 1980s based on her 1979 essay, "Dictatorships and Double Standards". The doctrine was used to justify the U.S. foreign policy of supporting Third World anti-communist dictatorships during the Cold War.

A political system defines the process for making official government decisions. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems. However, this is a very simplified view of a much more complex system of categories involving the questions of who should have authority and what the government's influence on its people and economy should be.

Democratization is the transition to a more democratic political regime, including substantive political changes moving in a democratic direction. It may be the transition from an authoritarian regime to a full democracy, a transition from an authoritarian political system to a semi-democracy or transition from a semi-authoritarian political system to a democratic political system. The outcome may be consolidated or democratization may face frequent reversals. Different patterns of democratization are often used to explain other political phenomena, such as whether a country goes to a war or whether its economy grows. Democratization itself is influenced by various factors, including economic development, history, and civil society. The ideal result from democratization is to ensure that the people have the right to vote and have a voice in their political system.

<i>Caudillo</i> type of personalist leader wielding political power

A caudillo was a type of personalist leader wielding military and political power. There is no precise definition of caudillo, which is often used interchangeably with "dictator" and "strongman". The term is historically associated with Spain, and with Spanish America after virtually all of that region won independence in the early nineteenth century. The term is often used pejoratively by critics of a regime. However, Spain's General Francisco Franco (1936–1975) proudly took the title as his own during and after his military overthrow of the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), in parallel to the German and Italian equivalents of the same period: Führer and Duce. Spanish censors during his rule attacked publishers who applied the term to Hispanic American strongmen. Caudillos' exercise of power is a form considered authoritarian. Most societies have had personalist leaders at times, but Hispanic America has had many more, the majority of whom were not self-described caudillos. However, scholars have applied the term to a variety of Hispanic American leaders.

An illiberal democracy, also called a partial democracy, low intensity democracy, empty democracy, hybrid regime or guided democracy, is a governing system in which although elections take place, citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties, thus it is not an "open society". There are many countries "that are categorized as neither 'free' nor 'not free', but as 'probably free', falling somewhere between democratic and nondemocratic regimes". This may be because a constitution limiting government powers exists, but those in power ignore its liberties, or because an adequate legal constitutional framework of liberties does not exist.

Mancur Olson American economist

Mancur Lloyd Olson Jr. was an American economist and social scientist who taught economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. His most influential contributions were in institutional economics, and in the role which private property, taxation, public goods, collective action, and contract rights play in economic development.

A strongman is a political leader who rules by force and runs an autocracy or authoritarian regime or totalitarian regime. The term is often used interchangeably with "dictator" in the western world, but differs from a "warlord" and commonly lacks the negative connotations especially in some Eastern European and Central Asian countries.

A benevolent dictatorship refers to a government in which an authoritarian leader exercises absolute political power over the state but is perceived to do so with regard for benefit of the population as a whole, standing in contrast to the decidedly malevolent stereotype of a dictator. A benevolent dictator may allow for some economic liberalization or democratic decision-making to exist, such as through public referenda or elected representatives with limited power, and often makes preparations for a transition to genuine democracy during or after their term. It might be seen as a republican form of enlightened despotism.

The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term inverted totalitarianism in 2003 to describe what he saw as the emerging form of government of the United States. Wolin analysed the United States as increasingly turning into a managed democracy. He uses the term "inverted totalitarianism" to draw attention to the totalitarian aspects of the American political system while emphasizing its differences from proper totalitarianism, such as Nazi and Stalinist regimes.

A right-wing dictatorship is an authoritarian regime whose policy could be called right-wing. There are various definitions of the term "rightist". The broadest one includes all dictatorships that do not consider themselves communist. Those are usually pro-capitalist in economic matters and conservative in ideological ones. The term fascist dictatorship is sometimes used interchangeably with the right-wing one. It is commonly accepted that Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy were ruled by fascist governments at some points of their history, but how it refers to other right-wing regimes is a question of further debate. The Estado Novo in Portugal was a right-wing dictatorship which was corporatist in nature. Most South American dictatorships during the second half of the 20th century were right-wing: Pinochet, the Brazilian Military Government, etc. There have also been a number of military dictatorships installed by anti-communists which were generally conservative and rightist.

Comparison of Nazism and Stalinism

A number of authors have carried out comparisons of Nazism and Stalinism, in which they have considered the similarities and differences of the two ideologies and political systems, what relationship existed between the two regimes, and why both of them came to prominence at the same time. During the 20th century, the comparison of Stalinism and Nazism was made on the topics of totalitarianism, ideology, and personality cult. Both regimes were seen in contrast to the liberal West, with an emphasis on the similarities between the two. The political scientists Zbigniew Brzezinski, Hannah Arendt and Carl Friedrich and historian Robert Conquest were prominent advocates of applying the "totalitarian" concept to compare Nazism and Stalinism.

Authoritarian socialism refers to a collection of political-economic systems describing themselves as socialist and rejecting the liberal democratic concepts of multi-party politics, freedom of assembly, habeas corpus and freedom of expression. Several countries, including the Soviet Union and Maoist China have been described by journalists and scholars as authoritarian socialist states. However, neither state used the term "authoritarian socialist" to describe themselves—these states declared themselves to be proletarian or people's democracies. Authoritarian socialism also encompassed ideologies like Arab and African socialism.

Metaxism authoritarian nationalist ideology associated with Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas

Metaxism is a totalitarian nationalist ideology associated with Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas. It called for the regeneration of the Greek nation and the establishment of a modern, culturally homogenous Greece. Metaxism disparaged liberalism, and held individual interests to be subordinate to those of the nation, seeking to mobilize the Greek people as a disciplined mass in service to the creation of a "new Greece."

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Further reading