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Totalitarianism is a political ideology 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 fundamentalist 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 (Marxism), 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 (see torture) 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.

Arendt was one of the first to suggest that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were two sides of the same coin rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. <ref>The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt ISBN 0-15-670153-7</ref>

George Orwell said, “

A totalitarian state is a state in which the government rules all aspects, both public and private, of its citizen's lives. Examples of totalitarian states in recent history include the U.S.S.R., North Korea, or Saparmurat Niyazov's regime in Turkmenistan.

See also


totalitarianism.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/12 18:39 (external edit)