Totalitarianism

Discipline: Political Science

Theory of despotic government.

Totalitarian regimes are characterized by an ambition for permanence; attempted total control over all aspects of the lives of their subjects; concentration of power in a single leader; and use of mass propaganda and public ritual.

The theory of totalitarianism attempts to generalize from the characteristics of the German Nazi and Soviet Stalinist regimes, and to create a more widely applicable descriptive category. When it began to be applied to right-wing military regimes, conservative theorists devised the notion of authoritarianism to distinguish such regimes from the totalitarian pure type.

Source:
David Miller et al., eds, The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford, 1987)

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