Totalitarianism, the Origin of the Concept - Political Psychology


As a result of studying this chapter, the student must:


• What is totalitarianism?

• the sources of totalitarianism;

be able to

• Analyze the burden of totalitarianism;


• The skills of analyzing totalitarianism as a cultural and historical type.

And we will enter that monastery,

The kingdom of joyful visions,

Where will I be a lord,

The leader of the magic hymns.

Nikolay Gumilev

The origin of the concept

Totalitarianism (from Latin totalis - whole, full; totalitario - all, whole) - a political regime that tries to provide total control over all aspects of human life, differs boundless power of the state and numerous victims of repression. Totalitarianism is the subordination and suppression by the state of the development of society and culture, the elimination of free social life, the suppression of human and citizen rights and freedoms by violent, coercive measures. Under this regime, the economic, social, ideological, spiritual and even everyday life are under the control of the ruling elite, organized into a coherent military bureaucracy and headed by the leader - the Fuhrer, the leader, the duce, the caudillo.

What is the main social force that leads to totalitarianism? As a rule, lumpen city and village (lumpen-proletariat, lumpenized layer of peasantry and lumpen-intelligentsia). For this layer is characterized by extreme disorganization, social amorphism, anger and hatred as features of social psychology. F. Nietzsche prophetically wrote about the "instinctive hatred of reality", about the rampage of affects directed against the stability of the life order, the certainty of moral principles.

Psychological expression of the totalitarian system is the organization of social life by the patterns of emergency. Totalitarianism is impossible without militarization, since it needs a strong apparatus of repression. It is inherent in the introduction of terror, strict measures of control over the behavior of people. At the same time, the ideal of the social order is proclaimed. Signs of the totalitarian system, according to KI Friedrich, are: a monopolistic state party; economy with centralized management; monopoly on information; a monopoly on weapons, a terrorist secret police.

Historical illustrations of totalitarianism, when all social and political spheres were totally unified, are considered the Third Reich of National Socialism and Communism (primarily Stalinism), as well as the fascist Italian state. To reveal the features of totalitarianism (at the cost of erasing both ideological differences and the structural conditions for the formation of these states) it is important to find a coincidence in the signs of forms of domination.

In the 1960s. the theory of totalitarianism was criticized by P. Lunts and M. Greifenahagen, who insisted that there is a difference between fascism and communism, which is evident when considering the social origin and social functions of the political system. However, this view was not recognized in political psychology. Totalitarianism is impossible without the functioning of ideology, which is endowed in these regimes by universality and infallibility. He also strongly dictates the excessive politicization of all members of society with a view to achieving unity of mind. Totalitarian domination is impossible without the effect of charisma, which is related to the notion of the greatness, infallibility and power of the leader.

Totalitarianism revives the ancient theocratic ideal associated with the subordination of all social life to ideological control by the priestly caste. Culture under this political regime seeks to provide "monolithic unity" society through punitive, violent and spiritual repression.

For the totalitarian regime, the following main features are characteristic: it arises from a preconceived plan and sets as its goal a radical reconstruction of society; refuses to recognize any spheres of life in which the individual and his will are the ultimate value; introduces centralized planning, replacing the competition in the economic sphere; declares its official ideology the only true and not subject to criticism; identifies society and the state, destroys civil society and introduces state control over all spheres of life of society and the individual; relies on a totalitarian political party, ruled by the leader; introduces a monopoly on the means of communication; forms special bodies of state security, whose main task is to implement terror and create an atmosphere of fear; strongly supports a special collectivist lifestyle, when the bulk of the population is ready to sacrifice enthusiastically their present for the sake of a "beautiful future."

As an example of totalitarian regimes, you can call absolutist Bonapartist regimes. The twentieth century demonstrated the brutal practice of the Nazi and Stalin regimes. B. Mussolini used the concept in question in a positive sense and designated them as a strong state that controls all spheres of society's life.

Already in the 1930s. treatment of the concept of "totalitarianism" has acquired a negative character. This word began to denote the system of a rigid non-legal state within the framework of fascism and communism. After the Second World War, such prominent scholars as Z. Brzezinski, K. Friedrich and H. Arendt attempted to show the originality of totalitarianism, its difference from authoritarian structures and from democratic systems.

The thirst for power still determines the origin and flow of social processes. According to Popper, today's so-called totalitarianism belongs to the same old or as young tradition as our civilization itself, therefore it is impossible to deprive the courage of those who fight against totalitarianism.

Tracing the origins of totalitarian thinking, Popper turned to the concept of the ancient philosopher Plato. Popper's idea is that if the views of the ancient sage were realized in his time, the concentration camps would already appear in ancient Greece. For Plato, there was only one final criterion - the state's interest. Everything that promotes this interest is good, virtue and justice; all that threatens him is evil, vice and injustice. The criterion of morality for Plato was also the interest of the state. Morality, according to Plato, is nothing more than political hygiene. This, in Popper's opinion, is essentially a collectivist, tribal, totalitarian moral theory.

I will note that I do not doubt the sincerity of the Platonic commitment to totalitarianism. He did not recognize a compromise, demanding the uncontested domination of one class over the others, but his ideal was not the maximum exploitation of the working class by the upper classes, but the stability of the whole. "

The Platonic theory of justice, contained in the "State" and his other later works, is a conscious attempt to prevail over egalitarianism, individualism and to revive the principles of the patrimonial system with the help of the totalitarian theory of morality. Many ancient philosophers objectively served as bearers of the tribal spirit, which was later revived by Hegel, who proclaimed the cult of the state, history, and nation. "Nationalism," Popper emphasized, "appeals to our tribal interests, to passions and prejudices, to our nostalgic desire to free ourselves from the tension of individual responsibility, which he is trying to replace with collective or group responsibility."

According to Popper, the main ideas of totalitarianism go back to Hegel: 1) nationalism in the form of a historical idea, according to which the state appears as the embodiment of the national spirit, and the chosen race is doomed " on world domination; 2) a state exempt from moral obligations; his only judge is historical success; 3) ethical justification for the war; 4) the rationale for the creative role of the individual; 5) the ideal represented in the heroic personality, heroic life, confronting the mediocrity of the petty bourgeois, the routine of life.

The phenomenon of totalitarianism is characterized by the following features:

1) Forcible establishment of a one-party system, its monopoly on the political life of society;

2) the figure of the leader, at the head of the party and endowed with charismatic features;

3) merging of the state and the party; moreover, the subordination of the state of the party;

4) the existence of a single ideology, which has a monopoly; this ideology should have a mobilizing effect for the masses, therefore it sets before itself and society a total goal, be it "world communism" or "world domination";

5) the inseparability of the monopoly of power and its ideology and the means of violence and terror used by it; a great faith in building a new society, a new order in the world and the enthusiasm it evokes can only be combined with the fear and humility of unbelievers in this great goal, therefore concentration camps are an integral part of the totalitarian regime, and ideological enemies are more dangerous than criminals.

The strengthening of state power is always fraught with the establishment of totalitarian control over people's lives. This danger is all the more topical, since in the modern era all institutions of society are, in one way or another, similar to state institutions. This applies primarily to political parties and trade unions, which are important elements of the socio-political structure for many decades. Since they, as a rule, consider the seizure of state power to be their main task, their organizational structure, principles and methods of activity are gradually converging with the corresponding features of the state apparatus. Parties, trade unions and the state are guided in their activities by the same criteria, for example, rationalism and productivity. For this reason, in principle, parties and trade unions can not be an alternative to state power.

At the same time, political parties have some immanently inherent characteristics that give them a reason to put them in the first place among the carriers of the "totalitarian danger". In addition to the fact that party groups are a reflection of the modern bureaucratic state, they always gravitate toward totalitarian influence on the minds of their members, and after coming to power - on the minds of all members of society. This trend is most typical for revolutionary parties, as a rule, putting forward doctrines that can be implemented only if the masses are mobilized.

Throughout the history of mankind, the forms of power have undergone repeated modifications as a result of the strengthening of individual elements of its structure. However, all this time there was only one area of ​​application of power - the social sphere. At the moments of the greatest strengthening of the state, it tried to identify itself with this sphere, how to destroy the barrier that separates it from civil society. These attempts always ended in failure, for social, or popular, power is an example of the contradiction inherent in the very concept. Whatever the goals set by the authorities, it will always obey the logic of domination and authoritarianism, while social being is characterized by pluralism and diversity.

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