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Totalitarianism is a political concept of a mode of government that prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism. Political power in totalitarian states has often been held by rule by one leader which employ all-encompassing propaganda campaigns broadcast by state-controlled mass media. Totalitarian regimes are often marked by political repression, personality cultism, control over the economy, restriction of speech, mass surveillance and widespread use of state terrorism. Historian Robert Conquest describes a "totalitarian" state as one recognizing no limits to its authority in any sphere of public or private life and which extends that authority to whatever length feasible.
Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong central power and limited political freedoms. Under an authoritarian regime, individual freedoms are subordinate to the state, and there is no constitutional accountability. Authoritarian regimes can be autocratic, with power concentrated in one person, or can be a committee, with power shared among officials and government institutions. The political scientist Juan Linz defined authoritarianism in an influential 1964 work as possessing four qualities:
A dictatorship is an authoritarian form of government, characterized by a single leader or group of leaders with either no party or a weak party, little mass mobilization, and limited political pluralism. According to other definitions, democracies are regimes in which "those who govern are selected through contested elections"; therefore dictatorships are "not democracies". With the advent of the 19th and 20th centuries, dictatorships and constitutional democracies emerged as the world's two major forms of government, gradually eliminating monarchies, one of the traditional widespread forms of government of the time. Typically, in a dictatorial regime, the leader of the country is identified with the title of dictator, although their formal title may more closely resemble something similar to "leader". A common aspect that characterized dictatorship is taking advantage of their strong personality, usually by suppressing freedom of thought and speech of the masses, in order to maintain complete political and social supremacy and stability. Dictatorships and totalitarian societies generally employ political propaganda to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems.
Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, but activist groups, companies, religious organizations and the media can also produce propaganda.
The concept was first developed in the 1920s by both Weimar jurist (and later Nazi academic) Carl Schmitt and, concurrently, by the Italian fascists. Italian fascist Benito Mussolini said "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state". Schmitt used the term Totalstaat in his influential 1927 work on the legal basis of an all-powerful state, The Concept of the Political .The term gained prominence in Western anti-communist political discourse during the Cold War era as a tool to convert pre-war anti-fascism into postwar anti-communism.
The Weimar Republic is an unofficial historical designation for the German state from 1918 to 1933. The name derives from the city of Weimar, where its constitutional assembly first took place. The official name of the republic remained Deutsches Reich unchanged from 1871, because of the German tradition of substates. Although commonly translated as "German Empire", the word Reich here better translates as "realm", in that the term does not have monarchical connotations in itself. The Reich was changed from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. In English, the country was usually known simply as Germany.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
Carl Schmitt was a conservative German jurist, political theorist, and prominent member of the Nazi Party. Schmitt wrote extensively about the effective wielding of political power. His work has been a major influence on subsequent political theory, legal theory, continental philosophy and political theology, and remains both influential and controversial due to his close association and juridical-political allegiance with Nazism. He is known as the "crown jurist of the Third Reich".
Totalitarian regimes are different from other authoritarian ones. The latter denotes a state in which the single power holder – an individual "dictator", a committee or a junta or an otherwise small group of political elite – monopolizes political power. "[The] authoritarian state [...] is only concerned with political power and as long as that is not contested it gives society a certain degree of liberty".Authoritarianism "does not attempt to change the world and human nature". In contrast, a totalitarian regime attempts to control virtually all aspects of the social life, including the economy, education, art, science, private life and morals of citizens. Some totalitarian governments may promote an elaborate ideology: "The officially proclaimed ideology penetrates into the deepest reaches of societal structure and the totalitarian government seeks to completely control the thoughts and actions of its citizens". It also mobilizes the whole population in pursuit of its goals. Carl Joachim Friedrich writes that "a totalist ideology, a party reinforced by a secret police, and monopoly control of [...] industrial mass society" are the three features of totalitarian regimes that distinguish them from other autocracies.
A military dictatorship, also known as a military junta, is a dictatorship wherein the military exerts complete or substantial control over political authority, and a dictator is often a high ranked military officer.
An ideology is a collection of normative beliefs and values that an individual or group holds for other than purely epistemic reasons. In other words, these rely on basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis. The term is especially used to describe systems of ideas and ideals which form the basis of economic or political theories and resultant policies. In these there are tenuous causal links between policies and outcomes owing to the large numbers of variables available, so that many key assumptions have to be made. In political science the term is used in a descriptive sense to refer to political belief systems
Carl Joachim Friedrich was a German-American professor and political theorist.
The notion of totalitarianism as a "total" political power by the state was formulated in 1923 by Giovanni Amendola, who described Italian Fascism as a system fundamentally different from conventional dictatorships.The term was later assigned a positive meaning in the writings of Giovanni Gentile, Italy’s most prominent philosopher and leading theorist of fascism. He used the term totalitario to refer to the structure and goals of the new state, which were to provide the "total representation of the nation and total guidance of national goals". He described totalitarianism as a society in which the ideology of the state had influence, if not power, over most of its citizens. According to Benito Mussolini, this system politicizes everything spiritual and human: "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state".
Giovanni Amendola was an Italian journalist and politician, noted as an opponent of Fascism.
Italian Fascism, also known as Classical Fascism or simply Fascism, is the original fascist ideology as developed in Italy. The ideology is associated with a series of three political parties led by Benito Mussolini, namely the Revolutionary Fascist Party (PFR) founded in 1915, the succeeding National Fascist Party (PNF) which was renamed at the Third Fascist Congress on 7–10 November 1921 and ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943 and the Republican Fascist Party that ruled the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Italian Fascism is also associated with the post-war Italian Social Movement and subsequent Italian neo-fascist movements.
Giovanni Gentile was an Italian neo-Hegelian idealist philosopher, educator, and fascist politician. The self-styled "philosopher of Fascism", he was influential in providing an intellectual foundation for Italian Fascism, and ghostwrote part of The Doctrine of Fascism (1932) with Benito Mussolini. He was involved in the resurgence of Hegelian idealism in Italian philosophy and also devised his own system of thought, which he called "actual idealism" or "actualism", and which has been described as "the subjective extreme of the idealist tradition".
One of the first to use the term "totalitarianism" in the English language was the Austrian writer Franz Borkenau in his 1938 book The Communist International, in which he commented that it united the Soviet and German dictatorships more than it divided them.The label "totalitarian" was twice affixed to the Hitler regime during Winston Churchill's speech of October 5, 1938 before the House of Commons in opposition to the Munich Agreement, by which France and Great Britain consented to Nazi Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland. Churchill was then a backbencher MP representing the Epping constituency. In a radio address two weeks later, Churchill again employed the term, this time applying the concept to "a Communist or a Nazi tyranny".
Franz Borkenau was an Austrian writer and publicist. Borkenau was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of a civil servant. As a university student in Leipzig, his main interests were Marxism and psychoanalysis. Borkenau is known as one of the pioneers of the totalitarianism theory.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was a member of the Liberal Party.
The House of Commons, officially the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House.
José María Gil-Robles y Quiñones, the leader of the historic Spanish reactionaryparty called the Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right (CEDA) declared his intention to "give Spain a true unity, a new spirit, a totalitarian polity" and went on to say: "Democracy is not an end but a means to the conquest of the new state. When the time comes, either parliament submits or we will eliminate it". General Francisco Franco was determined not to have competing right-wing parties in Spain and, in April 1937, CEDA was dissolved. Later Gil-Robles went into exile.
José María Gil-Robles y Quiñones de León was a Spanish politician, leader of the CEDA and a prominent figure in the period leading up to the Spanish Civil War.
In common usage, reactionary is a generally disparaging term used to describe a person or policy opposing liberal or progressive change or promoting action or social change to return to a past social condition. According to political theorist Mark Lilla, reaction is the yearning to overturn a present condition of decadence and recover an idealized past. Reactionary suggests individuals or policies that favour social transformation, whereas conservative suggests individuals or policies that seek to preserve what exists in the present. Reactionary is a term often used in the context of the left–right political spectrum, and is one tradition in right-wing politics. Unlike the term conservative, reactionary is rarely used as a term of self-description. It is most often used to criticize or disparage entities or policies by opponents. It is applied to entities or policies that critics believe are against desirable social progress.
The Cortes Generales are the bicameral legislative chambers of Spain, consisting of the Congress of Deputies, and the Senate.
George Orwell made frequent use of the word totalitarian and its cognates in multiple essays published in 1940, 1941 and 1942. In his essay Why I Write , he wrote: "The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it".
During a 1945 lecture series entitled The Soviet Impact on the Western World (published as a book in 1946), the pro-Soviet British historian E. H. Carr claimed: "The trend away from individualism and towards totalitarianism is everywhere unmistakable" and that Marxism–Leninism was by far the most successful type of totalitarianism as proved by Soviet industrial growth and the Red Army's role in defeating Germany. Only the "blind and incurable" could ignore the trend towards totalitarianism, said Carr.
In The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) and The Poverty of Historicism (1961), Karl Popper articulated an influential critique of totalitarianism: in both works, he contrasted the "open society" of liberal democracy with totalitarianism and argued that the latter is grounded in the belief that history moves toward an immutable future in accordance with knowable laws.
In The Origins of Totalitarianism , Hannah Arendt argued that Nazi and Communist regimes were new forms of government and not merely updated versions of the old tyrannies. According to Arendt, the source of the mass appeal of totalitarian regimes is their ideology, which provides a comforting, single answer to the mysteries of the past, present and future. For Nazism, all history is the history of race struggle and for Marxism all history is the history of class struggle. Once that premise is accepted, all actions of the state can be justified by appeal to nature or the law of history, justifying their establishment of authoritarian state apparatus.
In addition to Arendt, many scholars from a variety of academic backgrounds and ideological positions have closely examined totalitarianism. Among the most noted commentators on totalitarianism are Raymond Aron, Lawrence Aronsen, Franz Borkenau, Karl Dietrich Bracher, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert Conquest, Carl Joachim Friedrich, Eckhard Jesse, Leopold Labedz, Walter Laqueur, Claude Lefort, Juan Linz, Richard Löwenthal, Karl Popper, Richard Pipes, Leonard Schapiro and Adam Ulam. Each one of these describes totalitarianism in slightly different ways, but they all agree that totalitarianism seeks to mobilize entire populations in support of an official state ideology and is intolerant of activities which are not directed towards the goals of the state, entailing repression or state control of business, labour unions, non-profit organizations, religious organizations and buildings and political parties.
The concept became prominent in Western anti-communist political discourse during the Cold War era as a tool to convert pre-war anti-fascism into postwar anti-communism.
The political scientists Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski were primarily responsible for expanding the usage of the term in university social science and professional research, reformulating it as a paradigm for the Soviet Union as well as fascist regimes. Friedrich and Brzezinski argue inthat a totalitarian system has the following six, mutually supportive, defining characteristics:
Totalitarian regimes in Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union had initial origins in the chaos that followed in the wake of World War I and allowed totalitarian movements to seize control of the government while the sophistication of modern weapons and communications enabled them to effectively establish what Friedrich and Brzezinski called a "totalitarian dictatorship". Some social scientists have criticized Friedrich and Brzezinski's anti-totalitarian approach, arguing that the Soviet system, both as a political and as a social entity, was in fact better understood in terms of interest groups, competing elites, or even in class terms (using the concept of the nomenklatura as a vehicle for a new ruling class).These critics pointed to evidence of the widespread dispersion of power, at least in the implementation of policy, among sectoral and regional authorities. For some followers of this pluralist approach, this was evidence of the ability of the regime to adapt to include new demands. However, proponents of the totalitarian model claimed that the failure of the system to survive showed not only its inability to adapt, but the mere formality of supposed popular participation.
The German historian Karl Dietrich Bracher, whose work is primarily concerned with Nazi Germany, argues that the "totalitarian typology" as developed by Friedrich and Brzezinski is an excessively inflexible model and failed to consider the "revolutionary dynamic" that Bracher asserts is at the heart of totalitarianism.Bracher maintains that the essence of totalitarianism is the total claim to control and remake all aspects of society combined with an all-embracing ideology, the value on authoritarian leadership and the pretence of the common identity of state and society, which distinguished the totalitarian "closed" understanding of politics from the "open" democratic understanding. Unlike the Friedrich-Brzezinski definition, Bracher argued that totalitarian regimes did not require a single leader and could function with a collective leadership, which led the American historian Walter Laqueur to argue that Bracher's definition seemed to fit reality better than the Friedrich-Brzezinski definition.
In his book The True Believer , Eric Hoffer argues that mass movements like Stalinism, fascism and Nazism had a common trait in picturing Western democracies and their values as decadent, with people "too soft, too pleasure-loving and too selfish" to sacrifice for a higher cause, which for them implies an inner moral and biological decay. He further claims that those movements offered the prospect of a glorious future to frustrated people, enabling them to find a refuge from the lack of personal accomplishments in their individual existence. The individual is then assimilated into a compact collective body and "fact-proof screens from reality" are established.
In the article,Paul Hanebrink argues that many European Christians are starting to fear communist regimes after the rise and power of Adolf Hitler and after they see what a totalitarian regime can do to a country. "For many European Christians, Catholic and Protestant alike, the new postwar ‘culture war’ crystallized as a struggle against communism. Across interwar Europe, Christians demonized the Communist regime in Russia as the apotheosis of secular materialism and a militarized threat to Christian social and moral order." Paul Hanebrink argues that throughout Europe, Christians fear Communist regimes in Russia as it is a threat to their moral order. Some Christians thought by the means of defense for their community, they could hope to lead individual nations back to Christ and back to their Christian roots in order to stop the spread of Communism. In the late 1930s, the dangers of Communism were becoming much more prominent as well as "the inviolability of the human person’s right to freedom of conscience and dignity" which then became important for the reconstruction of Western Europe after 1945. After the proposal of the principle of Christian human rights in the 1930s, the Christians decided to add that in as a guiding principle in West Germany's 1949 Basic Law. While years passed, European Christians were aware of the dangers of Totalitarianism and connected past conflicts to a Communist regime which then sparked fear and created an anti totalitarian census that defined Europe in the early Cold War.
In the 1990s, François Furet used the term "totalitarian twins"to link Stalinism and Nazism. Eric Hobsbawm criticized Furet for his temptation to stress a common ground between two systems of different ideological roots.
In the field of Soviet history, the totalitarian concept has been disparaged by the revisionist school, some of whose more prominent members were Sheila Fitzpatrick, Jerry F. Hough, William McCagg, Robert W. Thurston and J. Arch Getty.Though their individual interpretations differ, the revisionists have argued that the Soviet state under Joseph Stalin was institutionally weak, that the level of terror was much exaggerated and that—to the extent it occurred—it reflected the weaknesses rather than the strengths of the Soviet state. Fitzpatrick argued that the Stalin's purges in the Soviet Union provided an increased social mobility and therefore a chance for a better life.
Writing in 1987, Walter Laqueur said that the revisionists in the field of Soviet history were guilty of confusing popularity with morality and of making highly embarrassing and not very convincing arguments against the concept of the Soviet Union as a totalitarian state.Laqueur argued that the revisionists' arguments with regard to Soviet history were highly similar to the arguments made by Ernst Nolte regarding German history. Laqueur asserted that concepts such as modernization were inadequate tools for explaining Soviet history while totalitarianism was not.
Laqueur's argument has been criticized by modern revisionist historians, such as Paul Buhle, who claim that Laqueur wrongly equates Cold-war revisionism with the German revisionism. The latter reflected a "revanchist, military-minded conservative nationalism".More recently, Enzo Traverso has attacked the creators of the concept of totalitarianism as having invented it to designate the enemies of the West. Thus, calling Stalin totalitarian instead of authoritarian has been asserted to be a high-sounding but specious excuse for Western self-interest, just as surely as the counterclaim—that alleged debunking of the totalitarian concept may just be a high-sounding but specious excuse for Russian self-interest. For Domenico Losurdo, totalitarianism is a polysemic concept with origins in Christian theology, and that applying it to the political sphere requires an operation of abstract schematism which makes use of isolated elements of historical reality to place fascist regimes and the USSR in the dock together, serving the anti-communism of Cold War-era intellectuals rather than reflecting intellectual research. Other scholars, such as F. William Engdahl, Sheldon Wolin and Slavoj Žižek, have linked totalitarianism to capitalism and liberalism and used concepts, such as totalitarian democracy, inverted totalitarianism or totalitarian capitalism.
In the 2010s, Vladimir Tismaneanu, Richard Shorten and Aviezer Tucker argued that totalitarian ideologies can take different forms in different political systems, but all of them focus on utopianism, scientism and/or political violence. They think that both Nazism and Soviet Communism emphasised the role of specialisation in modern societies and saw polymathy as "a thing of the past"; both claimed to have statistical scientific support for their claims, which led to a strict "ethical" control of culture, psychological violence and persecution of entire groups.Their arguments have been criticised by other scholars due to their partiality and anachronism. For instance, Juan Francisco Fuentes treats totalitarianism as an “invented tradition” and the use of notion of “modern despotism” as a “reverse anachronism”. For Fuentes, “the anachronistic use of totalitarian/totalitarianism involves the will to reshape the past in the image and likeness of the present.”
The Economist has described China's recently developed Social Credit System to screen and rank its citizens based on their personal behavior as "totalitarian".China's Social Credit System was first announced in 2014 and aims to introduce the idea that "Keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful" according to a government document that guided the ideology of the plan. By 2020, the Social Credit System should be fully operational and mandatory for millions of people across the country. Just like a credit score, a person's social score can move up and down depending on the way that they act. Opponents of China's ranking system say that it is intrusive and is just another way for a one-party state to control the population. Supporters of this new system say that it will make for a more civilized and law-abiding society.
Non-political aspects of the culture and motifs of totalitarian countries have themselves often been labeled innately "totalitarian". For example, Theodore Dalrymple, a British author, physician and political commentator, has written for City Journal that brutalist structures are an expression of totalitarianism given that their grand, concrete-based design involves destroying gentler, more-human places such as gardens.In 1949, author George Orwell described the Ministry of Truth in Nineteen Eighty-Four as an "enormous, pyramidal structure of white concrete, soaring up terrace after terrace, three hundred metres into the air". Columnist Ben Macintyre of The Times wrote that it was "a prescient description of the sort of totalitarian architecture that would soon dominate the Communist bloc".
Another example of totalitarianism in architecture is the Panopticon, a type of institutional building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century. The concept of the design is to allow a watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without their being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. It was invoked by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish as metaphor for "disciplinary" societies and their pervasive inclination to observe and normalise.
In political science, a communist party is a political party that seeks to realize the social and economic goals of Communism through revolution and state policy. The term communist party was popularized by the title of the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. As a vanguard party, the communist party guides the political education and development of the working class (proletariat); as the ruling party, the communist party exercises power through the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin developed the role of the communist party as the revolutionary vanguard, when social democracy in Imperial Russia was divided into ideologically opposed factions, the Bolshevik faction and the Menshevik faction. To be politically effective, Lenin proposed a small vanguard party managed with democratic centralism, which allowed centralized command of a disciplined cadre of professional revolutionaries; once policy was agreed upon, realizing political goals required every Bolshevik's total commitment to the agreed-upon policy.
The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, was Hannah Arendt's first major work, wherein she describes and analyzes Nazism and Stalinism, the major totalitarian political movements of the first half of the 20th century. The book is regularly listed as one of the best non-fiction books of the 20th century.
Stéphane Courtois is a French historian and university professor, a Director of research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Professor at the Catholic Institute of Higher Studies (ICES) in La Roche-sur-Yon, and Director of a collection specialized in the history of communist movements and regimes.
Karl Dietrich Bracher was a German political scientist and historian of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Born in Stuttgart, Bracher was awarded a Ph.D. in the classics by the University of Tübingen in 1948 and subsequently studied at Harvard University from 1949 to 1950. During World War II, he served in the Wehrmacht and was captured by the Americans while serving in Tunisia in 1943. He was then held as a POW in Camp Concordia, Kansas. Bracher taught at the Free University of Berlin from 1950 to 1958 and at the University of Bonn since 1959. In 1951 Bracher married Dorothee Schleicher, the niece of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. They had two children.
"Islamic fascism", also known since 1990 as "Islamofascism", is a term drawing an analogy between the ideological characteristics of specific Islamist movements and a broad range of European fascist movements of the early 20th century, neofascist movements, or totalitarianism.
What constitutes a definition of fascism and fascist governments has been a complicated and highly disputed subject concerning the exact nature of fascism and its core tenets debated amongst historians, political scientists, and other scholars since Benito Mussolini first used the term in 1915.
Richard Löwenthal was a German journalist and professor who wrote mostly on the problems of democracy, communism, and world politics.
Red fascism is a term equating Stalinism and Maoism with fascism. Accusations that the leaders of the Soviet Union during the Stalin era acted as "Red fascists" were commonly stated by Trotskyists, left communists, social democrats, democratic socialists, liberals and anarchists as well as among right-wing circles.
European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, also known as Black Ribbon Day in some countries, is an international day of remembrance for victims of totalitarian regimes, specifically Stalinism, Communism, Nazism and Fascism. It is observed on 23 August and symbolizes the rejection of "extremism, intolerance and oppression".
The Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, which was signed on 3 June 2008, was a declaration initiated by the Czech government and signed by prominent European politicians, former political prisoners and historians, among them former Czech President Václav Havel and future German President Joachim Gauck, which called for "Europe-wide condemnation of, and education about, the crimes of communism."
Fascism in Its Epoch, also known in English as The Three Faces of Fascism, is a 1963 book by historian and philosopher Ernst Nolte. It is widely regarded as his magnum opus and a seminal work on the history of fascism.
Crimes Committed by Totalitarian Regimes are reports and proceedings of the European public hearing organised by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission. The Hearing was organised in response to the request made by the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union on 19 April 2007.
A number of authors have carried out comparisons of Nazism and Stalinism in which they have considered the similarities and differences of the two ideologies and political systems, what relationship existed between the two regimes, and why both of them came to prominence at the same time. During the 20th century, the comparison of Nazism and Stalinism was made on the topics of totalitarianism, ideology, and personality cult. Both regimes were seen in contrast to the liberal West, with an emphasis on the similarities between the two. The political scientists Zbigniew Brzezinski, Hannah Arendt and Carl Friedrich and historian Robert Conquest were prominent advocates of applying the "totalitarian" concept to compare Nazism and Stalinism.
Authoritarian socialism, or socialism from above, refers to a collection of political-economic systems describing themselves as socialist and rejecting the liberal democratic concepts of multi-party politics, freedom of assembly, habeas corpus and freedom of expression. Several countries, most notably the Soviet Union and China, have been described by journalists and scholars as authoritarian socialist states.
The Seventy Years Declaration was a declaration initiated by academics Dovid Katz and Danny Ben-Moshe and released on 20 January 2012 to protest against the policies of several European states and European Union bodies on the evaluation, remembrance and prosecution of crimes committed under communist dictatorships in Europe, specifically policies of many European countries and the EU treating the Nazi and Stalinist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe as equally criminal. Presented as a response to the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism initiated by the Czech government in 2008 to condemn communism as totalitarian and criminal, it explicitly rejects the idea that the regimes of Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler can be compared, i.e. the totalitarianism theory that was popularized by academics such as Hannah Arendt, Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski and became dominant in western political discourse during the Cold War, and that has gained new momentum in many new EU member states following the fall of communism, resulting in international resolutions, establishment of research institutes and museums, and a day of remembrance. The declaration also claims communist regimes did not commit genocides, citing a 1948 definition that deliberately excluded politically motivated mass killings as demanded by the Soviet Union when it was adopted. More recent definitions do however include such crimes, and e.g. The Holodomor is recognized as a genocide by the United States, Ukraine and other countries. The declaration advances the position that the Holocaust was "unique" as compared to other genocides, a subject of some debate. This position first appeared in discourse in 1967, but has become less common since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and was described as a "vacuous" and "deeply offensive" position by Peter Novick. The declaration was signed by 70, mostly left-wing, parliamentarians from Europe. It was released on the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference in Berlin.
Democracy and Totalitarianism is a book by French philosopher and political scientist Raymond Aron. It compares the political systems of the Soviet Union and the democratic countries of the West.
The Antifa movement in Germany is a political current that is composed of multiple far-left, autonomous, militant groups and individuals who describe themselves as anti-fascist and usually use the abbreviation Antifa. Such groups have existed in different eras; the original organisation called Antifa was the Antifaschistische Aktion, which functioned as an integral part of the then-Stalinist Communist Party of Germany (KPD) during the late history of the Weimar Republic until 1933. In East Germany the remnants of the first movement were absorbed into the ruling communist party and became part of its official apparatus, ideology and language. The modern movement has its roots in the West German Außerparlamentarische Opposition left-wing student movement and largely adopted the aesthetics of the first movement while being ideologically somewhat dissimilar; the first Antifa groups in this tradition were founded by the Maoist Communist League in the early 1970s; from the late 1980s West Germany's squatter scene and left-wing autonomism movement were the main contributors to the new Antifa movement, and in contrast to the earlier movement it had a more anarcho-communist leaning. The modern movement has splintered into different groups and factions, including one anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist faction and one anti-German faction who strongly oppose each other.
the totalitarian nature of Stalin's Russia is undeniable
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