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From thanato- +‎ -cracy.



thanatocracy (plural thanatocracies)

  1. Nominal governance by a dead person, through posthumous holding of an official position of authority, or by popular veneration and lasting influence of a personal ideology; necrocracy.
    • 2001, Christopher Hitchens, "Visit to a Small Planet", Vanity Fair, January 2001:
      Kim Jong Il, incidentally, has been made head of the party and of the army, but the office of the presidency is still “eternally” held by his adored and departed dad, who died on July 8, 1994, at 82. (The Kim is dead. Long live the Kim.) This makes North Korea the only state in the world with a dead president. What would be the right term for this? A necrocracy? A thanatocracy? A mortocracy? A mausolocracy?
  2. The carrying out of mass and organized killing as an official policy of a state.
    • 1988, Warren K. Thompson, "Ethics, Evil, and the Final Solution", in Echoes from the Holocaust: Philosophical Reflections on a Dark Time (ed. Alan Rosenberg & Gerald E. Meyers), Temple University Press (1988), →ISBN, page 191:
      Whatever the uncertainty as to what precisely lead Germany to genocide and to the creation of a literal thanatocracy in occupied Europe, it is clear that an ethical and valuational failure of great magnitude occurred.
  3. The enactment of policies held to lead, directly or indirectly, to death or an increased risk of death.
    • 1992, Daniel Harris, "The AIDS Guerrillas : ACCEPTABLE RISKS, By Jonathan Kwitny (Poseidon: $24; 384 pp.)", Los Angeles Times, 1 November 1992:
      Kwitny's account of the medical gridlock that has paralyzed Washington during the Bush and Reagan Administrations provides a bleak picture of the indecisiveness and passivity of federal officials, whom many gay activists have described as the bureaucratic instruments of nothing less than a Republican thanatocracy.
  4. A culture in which rituals relating to the dead play a unique or important role.
    • 1978, Rosemary Radford Ruether, "Rich Nations/ Poor Nations: Towards a Just World Order in the Era of Neo-Colonialism", in Christian Spirituality in the United States: Independence and Interdependence (ed. Francis E. Eigo & Silvio Fittipaldi), Villanova University Press (1978), page 88:
      Exodus from Egypt means a departure from the thanatocracy where all our energies are expended on building the tombs of mummified eternal death.
  5. (figuratively) Endemic stagnation or decay.
    • 2000, David Solway, The Turtle Hypodermic of Sickenpods: Liberal Studies in the Corporate Age, McGill's-Queen's University Press (2000), →ISBN, page 16:
      [] if it neglects to maintain the physical plant which is decaying visibly and shockingly around us while refusing to upgrade the indispensable resources of teaching and learning — textbooks, encyclopedias, atlases, journals, scientific apparatus, that is, libraries and laboratories — then it is nothing more than an outright deception. As such, it remains a disingenuous exercise in crude politics, a blatant cultural scam which will do nothing but accelerate our already precipitous descent into mediocrity, incompetence, and desuetude. In short, it will become nothing more than the new thanatocracy of learning.