Sociology Index

Totalitarianism

Dictatorship, Military Dictatorship, Communist State

Totalitarianism refers to a state that regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior of the people. Totalitarianism corresponds to pluralism. Paul C. Sondrol of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs argues that the while both authoritarianism and totalitarianism are forms of autocracy. Totalitarianism is considered to be an extreme version of authoritarianism. Totalitarianism and authoritarianism differ in key dichotomies. The utilisation of power for personal aggrandizement is more in evidence in authoritarianism than totalitarianism.

In totalitarianism, dictators develop a charismatic 'mystique' and a mass-based, pseudo-democratic interdependence with their followers via the conscious manipulation of a prophetic image. In totalitarianism, self-conceptions are largely teleological. The tyrant is less a person than an indispensable 'function' to guide and reshape the universe. The radical nature of totalitarianism's purposes convinced political historians that totalitarianism represented a new form of government rather than merely despotism.

Totalitarianism is a concept deep-seated in the tragedies of the two World Wars. Totalitarianism was thought of as a regime with deep, radical ambitions. Hannah Arendt’s 1951 book, The Origins of Totalitarianism drew upon the typologies of totalitarianism. Totalitarianism refers to a type of regime that is extreme in its repudiation of freedom and liberties.

Sondrol, Paul C. "Totalitarian and Authoritarian Dictators: A Comparison of Fidel Castro and Alfredo Stroessner." Journal of Latin American Studies 23(3): October 1991.