Features of Totalitarian System of Government

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Features of Totalitarian System of Government

Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini

Totalitarian is defined as a form of government in which the state has absolute control of everything, including all aspects of the citizens life. In this form of government, law is seen as a product of the will of the rulers. They alone have the right to define standards of right and wrong.

A good example was Adolf Hitler of Germany. In 1933, he saw himself as the chosen leader with a mission to realize the destiny of the people. As a matter of principle, his action could not be called to question.

Features of Totalitarianism Form of Government

The main features of totalitarianism may therefore be summarised as follows:

  1. The state attempts to control every important aspects of the collective life of the people. There is little difference between the public and private lives of the people.
  2. Civil liberties of the individual are severely restricted. In fact, the individual is submerged.
  3. There is only one political party, which is politically and legally dominant. The party takes all important decisions on state activities and all other organs of government are subordinate to the party. In short, no opposition party is tolerated.
  4. There is monopoly of both executive and legislative power by the party. For example, in the former Soviet Union, the post of Secretary General of the Communist Party (the most important party office) was combined with the chairmanship of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister).
  5. The suffrage is widely extended and elections are frequent, but there is no opposition to cast a real secret ballot. Nominations are polarized by one party, leaving the voter with no choice but to approve the official list of candidates. Under such circumstances, election become an empty exercise, a ritual in which the voter reaffirms his loyalty to the regime. The almost unbelievable high percentage of participation in elections is said to be a positive proof of popular support.
  6. There is a dominant ideology, which is an instrument of rule and manipulation.
  7. There is a emphasis on the leadership of one man especially in the period before 1945 although this changed after the Second World War with the introduction of collective leadership in the totalitarian states of Eastern Europe.
  8. Propaganda is an important instruments of political control. In Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, only needs a propaganda was disseminated.
  9. The mass media are rigidly controlled. the process of achieving the position of Chief Executive in media organisations is based on activism within the single party.
  10. There is press censorship. Information outlets and cultural activities such as literature, art and music are subject to political censorship.
  11. The independence of the judiciary is severely curtailed. Judges are subject to political control.
  12. Legislative bodies are mere deliberative or rubber-stamp bodies with no real power to make laws.
  13. The government is republican in nature but generally unstable.
  14. A totalitarian system is unable to achieve an orderly and peacefully change of government. The political leaders are removed through intrigues, dismissal, palace coup or even assassination.
  15. A totalitarian government place great emphasis on costant mobilization of the people to win mass support for the government and to provide it with a democratic base.
  16. The educational institutions and the voluntary associations are rigidly controlled and their activities are geared towards the mobilization of popular support for the government.
  17. All the industries are owned by the state and the government decides which goods are to be produced.
  18. At least up to 1953, possible opponents in a power struggle in the former Soviet Union were killed.
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