Brief Totalitarianism Presentation

Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. It is usually under the control of a single political organization, faction, or class domination.

Basically, “ordinary” citizens have no share in state decision-making. In a totalitarian state, the government controls every aspect of the lives of its citizens. Totalitarian regimes maintain political power by disseminating propaganda through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that controls the state, personality cults, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of state terrorism.

Benito Mussolini used the post World War I turmoil to his advantage and founded the Fascist party. Mussolini led a “March on Rome” supposedly to prevent a communist revolution, but he actually led the march to frighten the government into naming him prime minister. Once he was in office, Mussolini increased his power by appointing Fascists to top offices, censoring the press, organizing a secret police, and banning any criticism of the government. He controlled the army and the schools, urging Italians to accept the slogan: “Everything in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

Joseph Stalin used propaganda, censorship, and terror to force his agenda on the Soviet people. Soviet newspapers glorified Stalin and his work, probably for fear of being killed. Secret police spied on citizens, and anyone who refused to praise Stalin and the state faced severe punishment and even death.

Adolf Hitler adopted some of Stalin’s and Mussolini’s totalitarian practices, leaving no rights or liberties to the citizens of Germany.

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