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About the origins of totalitarism ?

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  • About the origins of totalitarism ?

    The fashion consists in charging totalitarism to the French revolution. In other words, it would be the philosophy of the lights which would be at the origin of totalitarianism, the French revolution constituting the first implementation and terror resulting logically.

    For others people, totalitarism takes its source in the idea of absolute implemented by the catholic church in the middle age, in the christian anti- semitism and the racism and the colonialism of old ?

  • #2
    Is this helpful?

    Originally posted by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Origins_of_Totalitarianism

    The Origins of Totalitarianism
    is a book by Hannah Arendt which classed Nazism and Stalinism as totalitarian movements. It was recognized upon its 1951 publication as the comprehensive account of its subject, and was later hailed as a classic by the Times Literary Supplement.

    This book continues to be one of the definitive philosophical analyses of totalitarianism, at least in its 20th century guise. Arendt dedicated the book to her husband Heinrich Blücher.

    The book begins with the rise of Anti-Semitism in Central and Western Europe in the early and mid 19th century and continues with an examination of the New Imperialism period from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Although Arthur de Gobineau's An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853-55) constitutes the first elaboration of "biological racism", as opposed to Boulainvilliers' anti-patriotic and anti-nationalist racism, Hannah Arendt traces the emergence of modern racism as an ideology in the Boers' population, starting in particular during the Great Trek in the first half of the 19th century, and qualifies it as an "ideological weapon for imperialism". Along with bureaucracy, which was experimented according to her in Egypt by Lord Cromer, racism was the main trait of colonialist imperialism, itself characterized by its unlimited expansion (as illustrated by Cecil Rhodes). This unlimited expansion necessarily opposed itself to the nation-state, which by definition was territorially limited. In the last part of the section on imperialism, Arendt then examines "continental imperialism" (pangermanism and panslavism) and the emergence of "movements" substituting themselves to the political parties. These movements were all antiparliamentarist and began to instrumentalize antisemitism. Beside, they all tended to be against the state, submitting the state to the mythified nation (see Benedict Anderson's imagined communities). Thus, Hannah Arendt reached the unexpected conclusion that Italian fascism remained a "traditional" authoritarian movement, which glorified the state, while she considered nazism to be closer to stalinism as both were totalitarian movements which aimed at destroying the state. Finally, she pointed to the explosion of the problem of ethnic minorities and of refugees following the first war. As stateless persons, refugees were deprived of civil rights and, by consequence, of human rights, since the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen had linked together national sovereignty and human rights.

    The final section discusses the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on what Arendt argues were the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in the first half of the twentieth century — Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Here, Arendt discusses the transformation of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the non-totalitarian world, and the use of terror, essential to this form of government. In the concluding chapter, Arendt analyzes the nature of individual isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.
    _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
    _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
    _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
    _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

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    • #3
      Even not full, it is one of the answer but the debate has been renewed since Arendt publishing ...

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      • #4
        An interesting question is whether "free market fundamentalism" equates to a form of totalitarianism?

        Totalitarianism is a bit of a grubby word, really, as it relates to Cold War mudslinging. Regardless of history, however, I would regard it as applying to any system which denies all alternatives under the guise of "historical inevitability", "racial destiny", etc.

        Personally I think the triumphalism of cheerleading "end of history" pundits and the tooled-up Bushoviks (thankfully knocked down a peg recently) fits into that general pattern. But we could also look at the Ancient World, civilisations such as the Aztecs, or theocratic monarchies such as Tibet or Catholic Spain (just plucking thoughts out at random here - not to cause particular offence, I hope). I think that the combination of state power + all-embracing ideology is a dangerous one. The possibility of a change of system through the democratic will must always be acknowledged.
        \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mikey_C
          An interesting question is whether "free market fundamentalism" equates to a form of totalitarianism?

          Totalitarianism is a bit of a grubby word, really, as it relates to Cold War mudslinging. Regardless of history, however, I would regard it as applying to any system which denies all alternatives under the guise of "historical inevitability", "racial destiny", etc.

          Personally I think the triumphalism of cheerleading "end of history" pundits and the tooled-up Bushoviks (thankfully knocked down a peg recently) fits into that general pattern. But we could also look at the Ancient World, civilisations such as the Aztecs, or theocratic monarchies such as Tibet or Catholic Spain (just plucking thoughts out at random here - not to cause particular offence, I hope). I think that the combination of state power + all-embracing ideology is a dangerous one. The possibility of a change of system through the democratic will must always be acknowledged.
          Society needs to be democratic in order for there to be sort of flexibility that might postpone or ameliorate social dilemas etc.. Problem is that those who get the power certainly dislike democracy despite all the jabber for 'more' democracy.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mikey_C
            An interesting question is whether "free market fundamentalism" equates to a form of totalitarianism?

            Totalitarianism is a bit of a grubby word, really, as it relates to Cold War mudslinging. Regardless of history, however, I would regard it as applying to any system which denies all alternatives under the guise of "historical inevitability", "racial destiny", etc.

            Personally I think the triumphalism of cheerleading "end of history" pundits and the tooled-up Bushoviks (thankfully knocked down a peg recently) fits into that general pattern. But we could also look at the Ancient World, civilisations such as the Aztecs, or theocratic monarchies such as Tibet or Catholic Spain (just plucking thoughts out at random here - not to cause particular offence, I hope). I think that the combination of state power + all-embracing ideology is a dangerous one. The possibility of a change of system through the democratic will must always be acknowledged.
            On the first point, free market is a soft totalitarism or rather an anti-totalitarism as he does not deny the rights of the civil society .On the contrary, free market prones the supremacy of civil society on the state who loses his place.

            It is a totalitarism as he wants to encompass all the aspects of the life of the people and as he presents himself as a global ideology, a total explaintation of the social life.

            " End of history " is an ideological tool of free market. To make believe that he is supreme and not ideological and that there is no alternative to his domination.

            Second point, it is true that there were dictatorships in the past. It is also true that totalitarian systems share some traits of these dictatorships.

            But totalitarism is something more global, more modern, going further. Dictatorships do not negate the civil society, do not want to govern every aspect of the life and thinking of the society.

            For instance, stalinism was a totalitarian system, The Brejnev suystem was a clkassical dictature clad in ideological clothes.

            There is an instiotution that in the western middle age hat totalitarian ambitions : the church .....

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            • #7
              Tyranny has evoluted as well as any other human kind invention. To give an example, let's take transports: before, we were using wagons with horses, when there were an accident (broken wheel, dead horse), damages wasn't that big. Today, we're using planes. Usually there are less risks in planes that in wagons or cars, but when there is a crash, the consequences are huge. As well in politics, our world has become a smaller place than in previous centuries. When a dictator appears, his or her decisions have more consequences. However a new conception of dictatorship won't help us to get ridddance of it IMHO.
              Free the West Memphis Three

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