System of terror , using such instruments as violence and secret police. Monopoly on weapons. Monopoly on the means of communication. Central direction and control of the economy through state planning.

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Edit The notion of Totalitarianism as "total" political power by state was formulated in by Giovanni Amendola who criticized Italian Fascism as a system fundamentally different from conventional dictatorships. An Authoritarian regime confines itself to political control of the state.

But a totalitarian regime does much more. It attempts to mold the private life, soul, and morals of citizens to a dominant ideology.

The officially proclaimed ideology penetrates into every nook and cranny of society; its ambition is total. Only the "blind and incurable" could ignore the trend towards totalitarianism, said Carr. In The Origins of Totalitarianism , Hannah Arendt argued that Nazi and Communist regimes were new forms of government, and not merely updated versions of the old tyrannies.

According to Arendt, the source of the mass appeal of totalitarian regimes is their ideology, which provides a comforting, single answer to the mysteries of the past, present, and future. For Nazism , all history is the history of racial struggle; and, for Marxism , all history is the history of class struggle. Once that premise is accepted, all actions of the regime could be justified by appeal to Nature or the Law of History.

They all agree, however, that totalitarianism seeks to mobilize entire populations in support of an official state ideology , and is intolerant of activities which are not directed towards the goals of the state, entailing repression or state control of business , labour unions , churches or political parties.

Cold War-era research Edit The political scientists Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski were primarily responsible for expanding the usage of the term in university social science and professional research, reformulating it as a paradigm for the communist Soviet Union as well as fascist regimes.

For Friedrich and Brzezinski, the defining elements were intended to be taken as a mutually supportive organic entity composed of the following: an elaborating guiding ideology; a single mass party , typically led by a dictator ; a system of terror ; a monopoly of the means of communication and physical force; and central direction and control of the economy through state planning.

Such regimes had initial origins in the chaos that followed in the wake of World War I , at which point the sophistication of modern weapons and communications enabled totalitarian movements to consolidate power. He further claims that those movements offered the prospect of a glorious future to frustrated people, enabling them to find a refuge from the lack of personal accomplishments in their individual existence.

Individual is then assimilated into a compact collective body and "fact-proof screens from reality" are established. However, proponents of the totalitarian model claimed that the failure of the system to survive showed not only its inability to adapt but the mere formality of supposed popular participation.

Discussion of "post-totalitarianism" featured prominently in debates about the reformability and durability of the Soviet system in comparative politics. From a historical angle, the totalitarian concept has been criticized. Historians of the Nazi period inclined towards a functionalist interpretation of the Third Reich such as Martin Broszat , Hans Mommsen and Ian Kershaw have been very hostile or lukewarm towards the totalitarianism concept, arguing that the Nazi regime was far too disorganized to be considered as totalitarian.

Thurston, and J. Arch Getty. Gary M. Grobman wrote: Totalitarian regimes , in contrast to a dictatorship , establish complete political, social, and cultural control over their subjects, and are usually headed by a charismatic leader. Fascism is a form of totalitarianism which emphasizes the subordination of the individual to advance the interests of the state. And I think for this reason, too, many mainstream writers treat fascism and communism as totalitarian twins.

But most workers and peasants could tell the difference. Industrialists and bankers could tell the difference. And certainly the communists and the fascists could tell the difference. To sustain it, Furet is bound to twist facts. Though he recognizes that Mussolini reached power through a compromise with traditional elites and that Hitler had the backing of big business, the author hotly denies that Fascism and Nazism could be rotten products of capitalism.

The Nazi-Soviet pact is for him perfect proof of complicity between the two systems, but the Munich agreement--for which he has all sorts of justifications--is nothing of the sort.



Few scholars of Soviet history have been so passionately committed to demonstrating the truth of this view as Leonard Schapiro, and few have been more qualified to do so. Over the last decades Russian history and Soviet politics have separated into specializations whose practitioners have no common language. Schapiro never respected this artificial boundary. He is best known for his books The Origins of the Communist Autocracy and The Communist Party of the Soviet Union; but he also published a provocative study of nineteenth-century Russian thought, and one of his last books was a biography of Ivan Turgenev.


Schapiro completed in , just before he died. It is both a concise and lucid narrative and a highly-charged piece of political analysis. As narrative, fills a surprising gap in the literature on the subject. There are a large number of detailed studies of different aspects of the revolution, some of them brilliant works of scholarship. But no simple, comprehensive account of the two revolutions and the civil war exists. It also incorporates the conclusions of the most important recent research on the subject.



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