Characteristics of a totalitarian society

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characteristics of a totalitarian society

The Origins of Totalitarianism Quotes by Hannah Arendt

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Published 30.12.2018

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Totalitarianism is a political concept of a mode of government that prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life.

The General Characteristics of Totalitarian Dictatorship

Totalitarian governments are defined primarily by their aspiration to the creation of a utopian society by any means necessary. Not to be confused with authoritarian governance, in which the leader seeks merely to preserve a hold on power, totalitarianism has lofty but ultimately unattainable goals that compel all of society to participate in unreasonable and oftentimes irrational acts of devotion to the state. Usually headed by an exceptionally charismatic leader, totalitarian regimes rely primarily on strong negative emotions, such as fear, to hold power. Totalitarian regimes generally come to power by overthrowing the existing government, ostensibly to bring a better life to the people. Such regimes quickly get rid of opposition parties and begin a crackdown on public dissent and individuals with opinions that are hostile to the new rule.


What is Totalitarianism?

Despite the many differences among totalitarian states, they have several characteristics in common, of which the two most important are: the existence of an ideology that addresses all aspects of life and outlines means to attain the final goal, and a single mass party through which the people are mobilized to muster energy and support. The party is generally led by a dictator and, typically, participation in politics, especially voting, is compulsory. The party leadership maintains monopoly control over the governmental system, which includes the police, military, communications, and economic and education systems. Dissent is systematically suppressed and people terrorized by a secret police. Autocracies through the ages have attempted to exercise control over the lives of their subjects, by whatever means were available to them, including the use of secret police and military force.

Totalitarianism , form of government that theoretically permits no individual freedom and that seeks to subordinate all aspects of individual life to the authority of the state. Totalitarianism is a form of government that attempts to assert total control over the lives of its citizens. It is characterized by strong central rule that attempts to control and direct all aspects of individual life through coercion and repression. It does not permit individual freedom. Traditional social institutions and organizations are discouraged and suppressed, making people more willing to be merged into a single unified movement. Totalitarian states typically pursue a special goal to the exclusion of all others, with all resources directed toward its attainment, regardless of the cost.


  1. Luke W. says:

    totalitarianism | Definition, Examples, & Facts |

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