Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ideology and Terror: A Brief Look at 20th Century Totalitarianism


Totalitarianism is essentially different to other forms of political oppression (such as tyranny and dictatorship) because the leader and party gains political control by legitimate means such as an election or just by support of the his/her fellow citizens, but after gaining power they live their lives effecively trying to keep a strangle hold on that POWER.  While other forms of oppression tended to leave a state’s existing social, legal and political structures in place, totalitarianism effectively destroys these structures and replaces them with a single ideology and hierarchy.    Totalitarianism is a means and end to itself, it does not seek the approbation or understanding of other, rival, schools of thought.  A totalitarian state has its own self-contained set of values and rules, that operate within a single ideology.  Arendt defines an ideology as '...isms which to the satisfaction of their adherents can explain everything and every occurrence by deducing it from a single premise.’(Arendt)  A totalitarian state prefers citizens who cannot tell the difference between right and wrong to a thinking citizen that agrees with the state.   A totalitarian state expects each citizen to be able to perform one of two roles:  Victim or Executioner.  If the state perceives that certain citizens are enemies, it relies upon the other citizens to identify these enemies and execute them, thereby protecting the state as a whole.  It was a successful ideology to couple terror with ideas because it brainwashed the people into believing anything and everything that the regime said and did.  Hitler held supreme power right up until the end of the war.  His use of Darwinist tactics as a way of gaining control of the country and support of his people was quite ingenious way of taking advantage of the weakened and rebellious mindset of the German people.   Stalinism and Nazism were considered the best examples of totalitarianism because the two regimes were able to fully transform these nation and people into a total takeover of the country by a leader and his ideology.  Stalin and Hitler did just that to take over their downed nations.  They used their ability to connect with the people to gain full control of the country, but in the end they persecuted their own people because the people not only feared the regime, but the regime feared the people at the same time.  In the end, terror and Total Domination destroyed the capacity for human action because people were no longer allowed to have opinions, and this ideology destroys self-thought and progress.  The ability to have free-will is the key to have consistent movement forward as a nation.
When one person or political party makes one forget his/her beliefs and ideas because of money and manipulation, I believe that society has a problem.  What makes us different and the same as humans at the same time is the fact that we are able to use morality and reasoning to help make conscious decisions.  When a person or party makes this ability seem wrong or illegitimate, that your ideas and ways of thinking are wrong simply because one says so.(i think that is what a kindergarden teacher says to the student when the student says, "Can i eat glue?" "NO!" "Why" "Because I said so.")  I will be damned as a young adult with a mind of my own, if i let anyone of any power or money use the phrase, "because i said so", as a means of giving me an explanation of why i should think or do something in a certain way.  One can see it all around us in our house, community, city, state, country, and world how people try to change the way others think or feel because their way is right or better than mine.  In life, there are a million paths to the same end, so why should it matter how you get their as long as you do it in a legal and proper way.  Where should a society draw the line between a government or leader who wishes to make change for the better for all, or wish to make change better for those who have helped you financially in the past, present, or foreseeable future.  The vicious eyes of a totalitarian state can peer upon you behind the body of a nation full of wishful thinkers.  Complacientcy or vulnerability of a nation shall allow those eyes to ponder and control even deeper into the lives of those living in that place, but the thoughts and ideas of one or several men who wish to blind or correct those eyes, are often blinded or corrected by those vicious eyes looking back at him because we the people allow them to because some of us have forgotten how it is to think for one's own self.  Will you let those eyes scare you into complacientcy, or play the same game as them while being yourself at the same time?

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