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