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Difference between revisions of "Totalitarianism"

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'''Totalitarianism''' is a term created in the years preceding [[World War II]] to describe the new kinds of government created by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The key characteristic of totalitarian regimes is that they seek to control all aspects of life, so that there is no separation between the public sphere and the private.
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'''Totalitarianism''' is a [[Politics|political]] ethos which dictates the supremacy of the [[state]] over the individual [[freedom]]s of its citizens. A totalitarian state usually requires a defining ideology with which to justify its appropriation of the levers of power: extreme [[nationalism]] was the driving force behind [[Nazism]]; [[Marxism]] in the case of the Soviet Union; and a puritannical form of [[Islam]] in the case of a [[theocracy]] such as [[Iran]]. [[China]] offers an interesting example of a totalitarian regime that has abandoned the practical ramifications of its [[Marxism|ideology]], whilst retaining the power structures thus derived.  
  
Totalitarianism is a common situation in [[Dystopian]] novels. <i>1984</i> is probably the best known of these.
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Such states are characterised by the extent of their subversion of the rule of [[law]], with the police and judiciary acting as direct instruments of control and providing no meaningful check or balance upon the ruling elite. [[Media]] outlets are subordinated to [[Propaganda|faithful promotion of the defining ideology]] and, as the state matures, this tends to be reinforced with coordinated programmes of indoctrination within the education system. Dissent is often [[Torture|brutally repressed]] and extra-judicial killings are common. Other common features include the fostering of a personality cult around the head of state and rampant corruption due to the arbitrary enforcement of laws and statutes.
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==See also==
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*[[Authoritarianism]]
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*[[1984]]
  
 
[[Category:Politics]]
 
[[Category:Politics]]
 
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Revision as of 17:51, 22 July 2008

Totalitarianism is a political ethos which dictates the supremacy of the state over the individual freedoms of its citizens. A totalitarian state usually requires a defining ideology with which to justify its appropriation of the levers of power: extreme nationalism was the driving force behind Nazism; Marxism in the case of the Soviet Union; and a puritannical form of Islam in the case of a theocracy such as Iran. China offers an interesting example of a totalitarian regime that has abandoned the practical ramifications of its ideology, whilst retaining the power structures thus derived.

Such states are characterised by the extent of their subversion of the rule of law, with the police and judiciary acting as direct instruments of control and providing no meaningful check or balance upon the ruling elite. Media outlets are subordinated to faithful promotion of the defining ideology and, as the state matures, this tends to be reinforced with coordinated programmes of indoctrination within the education system. Dissent is often brutally repressed and extra-judicial killings are common. Other common features include the fostering of a personality cult around the head of state and rampant corruption due to the arbitrary enforcement of laws and statutes.

See also