In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symbol.”
A symbol of totalitarianism we can all understand, open fields seeded with mines, barbed wire, and watchtowers like in this picture scene. There are still places like this that litter much of soviet..oops, Putin’s present day Russia particularly in Siberia.
The vast stretches of the wire and thousands of armed guards waiting with machineguns really scares the heck out of any free person yet this was and is still a reality for many behind that wire.
Modern totalitarian regimes began last century and there were plenty of them some that still exist today. The concept of totalitarianism stems from the desire of a dictator, an elite group, or junta ruling through strict authority controlling everything they can, he or they have absolute control over their citizens including both social and private lives.
The late, great, English author George Orwell summed it all up very well in his famous Animal Farm book describing it as a state where “everybody is equal however, some are more equal than others”.
Some real examples of totalitarian leaders/regimes/countries include:
- Joseph Stalin – Soviet Union, after conclusion WWI and Russian Bolshevik revolution, Stalin took over executing anybody he wanted, 60 -100 million people, including show trials and resisters to his 5 year plans.
- Benito Mussolini – Italy, elected democratically into power in 1922, Mussolini once becoming leader seized the nation ruling as a fascist dictator.
- Adolf Hitler – Germany, elected democratically into power in 1933 Hitler like Mussolini seized total power with his Nazis to coop an obedient nation to achieve his personal vision for the country.
- Mao Zedong – China, fomented a communist revolution aided by the Soviet Union established the People’s Republic of China ruling by the ‘power of the gun’ killing 60 million, until his death in 1976.
- Kim Il-sung – North Korea, installed and supported by the Soviet Union since 1948, he and the same family continues a very repressive brutal rule of a very poor country now armed with nuclear weapons
A totalitarian regime by definition controls all aspects of social life including the economy, education, science, morals, privacy, and mass media. The ideology is what counts and everything that happens must advance it or fails and is repressed. The official ideology penetrates into deepest niches of societal structure including its actions and thinking anything deemed contrary is verboden.
You can recognize a totalitarian regime or a place that is becoming one by checking how many of these apply:
- One party rules and only one party exists however, a variant is where any other party is totally impotent.
- Fear pervails and is the norm, you are afraid of your neighbor, police, or even your own family and children.
- Informing to the authorities is the norm.
- Censorship including any and all criticism of politicians, celebrities, and state favored and protected groups, is the norm.
- Criticism of state, ruling class, or leader is forbidden and your arrest enforced.
- Total control of school system and political indoctrination of students.
- Total control all media and propaganda.
- Manditory military conscription.
- All communications monitored secretly by state.
- Christian religion persecuted and repressed to extinction.
- State religion, secularism, imposed and enforced.
- Political parties not allowed except the official state sanctioned one.
- Total control of all social services (including welfare) and creating new ideologically approved ones with nice sounding official names.
- Central planning total control of all manufacturing, production and distribution of all products including food.