Totalitarianism

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Abstract

Totalitarianism is a concept rooted in the horror of modern war, revolution, terror, genocide, and, since 1945, the threat of nuclear annihilation. It is also among the most versatile and contested terms in the political lexicon. At its simplest, the idea suggests that despite Fascist/Nazi “particularism” (the centrality of the nation or the master race) and Bolshevist “universalism” (the aspiration toward a classless, international brotherhood of man), both regimes were basically alike—which, as Carl Friedrich noted early on, is not to claim that they were wholly alike. Extreme in its denial of liberty, totalitarianism conveys a regime type with truly radical ambitions. Its chief objectives are to rule unimpeded by legal restraint, civic pluralism, and party competition, and to refashion human nature itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew dictionary of the history of ideas. Vol. 6
PublisherCharles Scribner's Sons
Pages2342-2348
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9780684313832
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

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