The Meaning of the Term Totalitarianism Essay
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The Meaning of the Term Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism was a one-party political system that was based on dictatorship. It first started in Europe in the 1920s and 30s. It was an absolutism that emphasized the importance of the state at the expense of individual liberties. It displays the following features:
One-party dictatorship and one-man rule were emphasized in a totalitarian state. Only one party ruled in a totalitarian state, for example, the Fascist Part in Italy, the Nazi Party in Germany and the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. All other political parties were made illegal, banned and suppressed by terrorist acts. The party and the part leader had absolute control over the…show more content…
Workers were not allowed to hold strikes. All corporations aimed to promote trade and supported the state. Hitler carried out a four-year plan to put all economic activities under state control. Stalin carried out three five-year plans in Soviet Russia – production targets were set up by the Soviet Union for the collective farms and factories to achieve. Workers in Germany were forced to join Nazi-controlled Labor Front. All economic production aimed to support the state.
An official ideology was promoted as state religion in the totalitarian state, for example, Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany and Communism in Soviet Russia. The leader had supreme power and demanded absolute obedience of the citizens.
The totalitarian state adopted an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy. The totalitarian states – both the Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany adopted an aggressive foreign policy to regain glory and prestige.
From the above, we can see that totalitarianism is an absolutism that emphasized the state’s importance. Individual freedom was not allowed. It was a one-party rule and one-man dictatorship, which developed in Europe after the First World War.
After the First World War, there was a revival of totalitarianism in Europe: Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany and Communism in Russia. The revival of
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1984 and the Totalitarian Society
Living in a society
with limited freedom of expression is not, in any case, enjoyable. A Totalitarian
society is a good example of such a society, because although it provides control
for the people, it can deny them a great deal of freedom to express themselves.
The fictional society in George Orwell's 1984 also stands as a metaphor for
a Totalitarian society. Communication, personal beliefs, and individual loyalty
to the government are all controlled by the inner party which governs the people
of Oceania in order to keep them from rebelling. Current society in America
is much more democratic. It contrasts with Orwell's society of 1984 because
communication, personal beliefs and the people's loyalty to the government
are all determined by the individual.
In order to keep the people of Oceania
in conformity with the desires of the governing Inner Party, the Inner Party
controls several aspects of the people's lives. Communication, for one, is
controlled for the benefit of the nation. Newspeak is a modified version of
language that is enforced upon the people in order to limit their expression.
Syme and Winston, two middle-class workers in Oceania, discuss the concept
of Newspeak. Syme reveals that he supports the system, demonstrating how he
has been brainwashed by the Inner Party who enforces the system.
beautiful thing, the destruction of words... You haven't a real appreciation
for Newspeak, Winston... Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to
narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thougtcrime literally
impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. (p. 46)"
One can detect from this quotation that the people of Oceania, as a group,
have been brainwashed by the Inner Party to use only Newspeak. Syme, for one,
understands the purpose of it, and he still complies with the system because
he has been trained to do so. The concept of Newspeak is designed to control
personal beliefs of the citizens by limiting their form of expression as Syme
explains. But when the governing system is not followed, Thought Police are
used to prevent thoughts that oppose the nation. "How often, or on what system,
the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was
even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. (p. 6)" There
is no doubt that - through both Newspeak and Thought Police - the system of
government in 1984 has adequately prevented the people from thinking against
it. When all this surveillance is placed on the people, they learn to comply
with their country and eventually begin to value it automatically. At the
end of the story, aft
er Winston is accused by the Thought Police of thoughtcrime
and is tortured, he finally conforms to the general thoughts of Oceania. "He
had finally won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother. (p. 245)"
This quote indicates that the inner party has done everything that was necessary
to preserve Winston's loyalty to the nation. Even Winston, who at one time
was against his government, has now been "fixed" to support it and love his
leader. The government of Oceania has gone to great lengths to change Winston's
mind, and as always, they have gotten what they desire.
America in 1997 is
much different from Orwell's 1984 because, for one, freedom of expression is
a dominating factor in American communication. In conversation as well as
newspapers and magazines, a variety of views and opinions are openly expressed.
Censorship is not enforced to a high degree. As an example, demonstrations
and protests are often held which counter certain governmental policies; laws
or propositions are often spoken out against in public. The fact that these
rebellious actions are not punished by the government proves that the government
of America is much more lenient than that of 1984. The expression of such
a variety of beliefs comes from the freedom of individual beliefs. The thoughts
and opinions of the individual are not maintained by the government; the government
does not have a system to control the thoughts of the individual. This is
why one commonly sees such a variety of beliefs and ideas spread in advertisements
and media. For instance, while there are often advertisemen
ts for meat,
leather or fur products in magazines and such, other advertisements often try
to suggest a more humane treatment of animals, therefore contradicting the
idea that animals should be killed for human consumption. The modern American
government fully allows any given belief of the individual people. And because
our beliefs vary, our opinion of the government can vary. While some people
support their nation, others defy it because they have the independence to
do so. Neo-Nazi skinheads traditionally wear an American flag upside down on
their clothing or burn the flag. There is no policing that prevents people
from doing this because the government gives them the freedom. All in all,
modern Americans have an extremely high level of freedom regarding all forms
The story of 1984 reflects a society that totally contrasts
with America today. While Orwell's objective was primarily written to exaggerate
the Totalitarian/Communist and other conditions of society surrounding him,
1984 presents an important guide to life for modern Americans. Just as a major
objective of learning American history is to ensure that we do not repeat our
mistakes, 1984 can give warnings to both government systems and individuals
regarding how society should not be controlled. The vigorous control system
presented in the book stands as a method by which no American would want to
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