Totalitarianism. Daniel Lazar. Definition of Totalitarian Political Systems.
Controls every aspect of life, so that there is no private sphere or independent organizations. The political system penetrates the whole society - dominating religion, family life, economy, education, everything. At the very top is the all-powerful leader.
No pure types but these regimes had totalitarian elements:
1. the cult of the leader. Leader must be supreme and autonomous - Hero worship. The Leader is perceived as wise, paternal, charismatic.
2. radical ideology: official, total, comprehensive. It exploits popular fears and prejudices. The ideology inspires and legitimates a revolutionary break from the past:
3. organization. A single political party serves the leader in promoting the ideology. The party initially might be powerful, but it becomes subservient to the leader. In time, no dissent permitted even among party elites.
4. mass mobilization & indoctrination. Fanatic followers make any sacrifice. Regime mobilizes against internal enemies (opponents, scapegoats, counterrevolutionaries) and external enemies.
Use aggressive warfare (that is, wars without proper justification, not in self-defense) to keep the people mobilized.
5. use of secret police. All sovereign states monopolize armed services and police, but totalitarian states also use secret police and informers to monitor and control the citizenry.
6. central control of all organizations, including schools, the arts, clubs, news media, labor unions, universities, churches, the economy. No separate organizations; no civil society.
7. use of terror and violence:
Violence can be useful to dictators.
1. enhances leader’s status.
2. brings economic gain (confiscating property of victims).
3. punishes political opponents and thereby discourages future dissent.
Terror useful in the short term. It is arbitrary and unpredictable.
Goal: to produce an extreme fear in populace to paralyze them into an utter lack of resistance. Terror creates an emotional and psychological state. Where violence is a reaction to resistance, terror seeks to prevent resistance from ever forming.
Terror serves two objectives:
Once a reputation for terror is established, a regime does not need to continue the high level of actual terror. It can use rumors and lies to convince people that the government is both invincible and omniscient (all-knowing). The people will believe that resistance is futile.
In addition, terror becomes less necessary as a revolutionary government becomes more legitimate. Regime then has other means of ensuring obedience, such as material incentives.
However, in the long term, terror is highly dysfunctional.
1. Harms productivity and creativity, damaging economy & technological innovation.
2. Destroys an individual's trust in government & other people, leading to break‑down of community and even family ties.
The Shah and Ahmadinejad (Iran)
Colonel Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi (Libya)
Hosni Mubarak (Egypt)
King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud (Saudi Arabia)
General Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan)
Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan)
The CCP in China
Kim Jong Il (North Korea)
Joseph Kabila (Congo or Kinsasha)
Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe)
Omar al-Bashir (Sudan)
Alyaksandr Lukashenka (Belarus)
Vladimir Putin-Dmitry Medvedev (Russia)
Fidel-Raul Casto (Cuba)
Modern Authoritarianism:The case-studies belows are deemed “not free” by the Freedom House Index. You are free to choose authoritarian regimes that are not on this list. We will use the Freedom House index and other tools to gauge the state of modern authoritarianism