Despotism is the default form of government in Civilization Revolution for the majority of civilizations, excluding the Arabs (who start with Fundamentalism), Greeks (who start with Democracy), Romans (who begin with a Republic), and English (who begin with knowledge of Monarchy). The in-game description tells the player that under Despotism, "you rule with absolute power." It has no disadvantages and one advantage: using a nuclear weapon does not harm the despot's culture.
Despots will use the in-game title of "Lord" (if the leader is male) or "Lady" (if the leader is female). Sometimes interacting with other leaders in-game while using Despotism will prompt them to remark that it is a "primitive" form of government.