TOTALITARIAN RULE

TOTALITARIAN RULE

The concept of totalitarian rule cannot
be determined by purely logical means. It was explained and clarified only
by those who went through the bitter experience of this form of government.

As late as the end of the 1920\'s the word "totalitarian" was used to designate
any state which was governed in an authoritarian rather than a parliamentarian
manner. The London Times, for example, on November 2, 1929, spoke of a
reaction against parliamentarism "in favor of a totalitarian, or unitary
state whether Fascist or Communist;" the quotation marks and the explanatory
phrase "or unitary state" prove that at the time the concept was still
fairly unusual.

In the 1930s and 1940s the experiences
of the Third Reich and Stalinist Russia added to the definition the criteria
of the synchronization and conformation of life, political police and concentration
camps, and aIl the other horrors disseminated by these regimes. But admitting
that in our century open terror has assumed particularly inhuman forms,
such terror is nevertheless not confined to totalitarian rule and therefor
is not sufficient to define it.

From time immemorial despots have imprisoned
their opponents under particularly cruel conditions; they have tortured
them, dishonored them, debased and executed them. The suppression of freedom
has always assumed the same forms. what Tacitus wrote in his biography
of Agricola concerning the despotism of the Emperor Domitian was experienced
as reality by the high school students of Hitler\'s Germany:

"Not only the writers but their very books
were objects of rage, and . . .the triumvirs were commissioned to burn
in the forum those works of splendid genius. They fancied, forsooth, that
in that fire the voice of the Roman people, the freedom of the Senate,
and the conscience of the human race were perishing, while at the same
time they banished the teachers of philosophy, and exiled every noble pursuit,
that nothing good might anywhere confront them. Certainly we showed a magnificent
example of patience; as a former age had witnessed the extreme of liberty,
so we witnessed the extreme of servitude, when the informer robbed us of
the interchange of speech and hearing. We should have lost memory as well
as voice, had it been as easy to forget as to keep silence."

The unique particularity of the unfolding
of totalitarian power was at first experienced only by those who were under
its immediate subjection, and even they understood it only gradually because
it was an entirely new experience-- at least in our century. Totalitarian
power grows beyond all standards of normal politics, it gains incalculable
and sinister dimensions; under its dominion life falls into confusion and
insecurity of all kind not known heretofore. Human beings find themselves
not only oppressed and confined in their freedom but also delivered up
to the regime, mercilessly exploited by it, and finally, as it were inadvertently,
criminally involved in the regime,s activity. Characteristically, it was
precisely the politically sophisticated observers who predicted all quick
collapse of totalitarian rule, and from their point of view they were justified;
for according to the traditional views and standards all such regimes destroy
the preconditions that can give permanence to all government.

Everywhere it goes against the most basic

Law of international diplomatic relations and economic life, destroys the
ordered domestic government, openly goes back on its promises, at every
step violates all loyalty and faith, is mendacious, unbalanced, repressed,
unprofessional--nevertheless, totalitarian rule flourished, secured its
position, manages to win over large sections of the population though they
resist at first\' and can even place its opponents in its service.

Persons under totalitarian rule are always
in the ranks, always under all strain. They may no longer show themselves
as they really are but are constrained constantly to play prescribed roles
in an atmosphere of false emotionality, joylessness, mistrust; and they
must take care to put their loyalty "to the test... Not only does the regime
forbid them to develop, but it seeks also to make of them other personalities
than they are by nature; it not only restricts their freedom but tries
as well to overpower them. This situation holds true for the declared adherents
of the regime even more than for its opponents; for the adherents must
always be anxiously concerned to move along whatever general line is currently
in favor.

No corner of public life or private life
offers refuge from control; one can inadvertently lay oneself open to suspicion
anywhere. Applause, indignation, enthusiasm, willingness to serve are produced
artificially. In general, artificiality is an outstanding characteristic
of totalitarian activity, standing in grotesque contrast to the regime,s
favorite appeal to the authentic forces of