What Is Totalitarianism?
The key part of this word is the first five letters. The leader or leaders of the country have total control of all segments of a citizen’s life, as well as control of all activities in the public arena. This type of restricted living can only be maintained through domination of information in newspapers, television and radio.
Beyond the control of information, which helps to keep the population moving in a particular direction philosophically, the leaders of a totalitarian state must suppress any thoughts of freedom and any criticism aimed at the leaders or the government they have formed. People who live under totalitarianism are under state surveillance, 24 hours each day, 7 days each week if that is possible.
The general definition of totalitarianism differs slightly from authoritarianism in that an authoritarian system does not necessarily control as much of private life or society as is the case with a totalitarian state. An authoritarian government might have strict control of all the activity within the government, including the making of laws, collection and spending of revenue and so on. But the control usually does not extend to the way a private citizen lives and works.
Some of the key elements of a totalitarian state are complete suppression of speech and criticism against the government and its individual leaders. This suppression often comes in the form of terrorism in its truest sense. Leaders in a totalitarian state try to maintain a level of fear among the populace as a way to ensure that they don’t have the urge to press for changes. Personal economic gain and private wealth are generally left for a select few since the entire production of the country is controlled by the state.
Some political scientists have proposed that democracy can gradually change to an authoritarian if not totalitarian state. This can occur when the state and corporate decision makers have come to work together so closely that the interests of the two are almost indistinguishable. This can only happen if the population shows disinterest, is distracted from the changes or is voluntarily obedient.
There are similarities between the changed democracy and the authoritarian/totalitarian state, including the general rule that verbal attacks on corporate power and increasing militarism are discouraged. Criticism of these areas might also be punished by personal attacks from corporate and government leaders with the goal of silencing dissent.
A huge majority of the population is distanced from political decisions and any influence on the government. Standing between them is a minority elite made up of corporate decision makers, political leaders and the thousands who are in the accepted political orbit.
Many citizens came to accept the malfeasance and abuse of power as the standard as instances of political leaders and corporate power holders doing what they want increase over time. Some might view totalitarianism as dying with the demise of the former Soviet Union. Others might see it in its infancy in some countries on various continents around the world. A few might even see some signs in the United States and Europe.Category: History, Government & Society