Power in Totalitarian State Research Proposal

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Power in a Totalitarian State

Propaganda, Scape-goating, and Fear: Utilizing the Tactics of Totalitarianism

We here in the United States take our democracy for granted in many occasions. We forget that in many other areas of the world, tyrannical leaders have ruled over their nations with an iron clad fist -- leaving little room for the rights of the individual. Instead, totalitarian governments focus on absolute control through various tactics meant to place the citizens in a position of complete subservience to the state. The individual is reduced to nothing -- all but the head of the government remain under the state's control. Several prominent twentieth century figures, such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, represent the skillful tactics of the most effective totalitarian regimes. Hitler harnessed the power of propaganda in order to brainwash his citizens into submission; all the while blaming a scapegoat in order to curb opposition of his own regime within the minds of the average German citizens. Another figure, Soviet Russia's Joseph Stalin utilized the extreme tactic of installing fear through absolute ruthlessness to remain in power for half a century. These tactics prove some of the most efficient used within the context of a totalitarian regime, and thus the most feared and respected within the study of world politics.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Research Proposal on Power in Totalitarian State Assignment

Totalitarian states present a much different government style than most Western nations are used to. In fact, the styles behind governing totalitarian states, present much more rigid and oppressive styles than our modern democratic style we are used to. Originally coined by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, totalitarianism represents the "for of government that theoretically permits no individual freedom and that seeks to subordinate all aspects of the individual's life to the authority of the government," (Encyclopedia Britannica 1). Thus one single party is able to repress the varying opinions and beliefs of a collected group of individuals within a particular nation state. This has been seen throughout various eras of history, but most associated with the axis powers which oppressed millions of Europeans in the pre-World War II era. Mussolini in Italy, Joseph Stalin in Soviet Russia, and the infamous Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, all are prime examples of totalitarian rulers. This style of government is differentiated from other tyrannical styles based on its traditions of wiping out entire previously established political and social cultures in order to establish one rule with efficiency feared by all individuals in the state. Totalitarian governments have proven extremely efficient in weeding out opposition and instilling fear within citizens. Yet, what are the most effective governmental styles within such an unfamiliar style of rule?

Several efficient styles of rule within the context of totalitarianism are defined in the notorious Main Kampf, or "My Struggle," written by Adolf Hitler while he was serving a five-year prison sentence in Germany. The work was originally intended as a pure autobiography, but ended up being a "mixture of autobiography, political ideas, and an explanation of the techniques of propaganda," (Spartacus Educational 1). In fact, utilizing the power of propaganda was the most prominent feature in the work which provided Hitler effective ruling techniques. The work itself was one of propaganda, for the autobiographical representation of Hitler was largely manipulated to provide readers with a positive twist, (Spartacus Educational 1). He also used the work to describe Germany as the head of the Aryan race, and therefore the most superior of all nations. The government's role is to keep up a positive and strong image through effective propaganda, even when the times prove to be much different, ensures the confidence of the people and allows easier access to take total control of individual lives.

And so, he buttered up the German people with his own brand of propaganda, and act which would help define his later rule throughout Nazi Germany. One propaganda film coming out of Nazi Germany in 1935 was Triumph of the Will, which presented a Nazi Congress meeting to the larger German public. Created by Leni Reifenstahl at the 1934 meeting in Nuremberg, the film chronicled puppeteer speeches from major Nazi party leaders, (UCLA Design 2004). Speeches included Hitler himself presented a strong and united Germany ready to take back which was rightfully theirs. As one of the most successful propaganda films in history, visual techniques are combined with concise cinematographically edited scenes. It created a visual representation of the distorted image conducted through powerful propaganda, and interesting piece which counters the influential strength of the party members speeches, (UCLA Design 2004). Along with instilling national pride and brainwashing within the German people, the film also sent a powerful message to Germany's potential foes -- Germany was ready. The film thus shows the power of propaganda not only for brainwashing and controlling one's own people, but also creating a strategically planned image of one's nation in the global perspective; showing the power of propaganda.

Another effective tactic seen within many totalitarian set ups is that of using a scapegoat to help gain the confidence of the people who are actually being robbed of their innate individual rights. Hitler was a master at this tactic, as seen in his blaming of German Jews for the countries woes in his work Mein Kampf. In his tirade against the Jewish people, who actually only made up around one percent of the entire German population, Hitler avoided placing the blame on himself and other Nazi sympathizers. This allowed a clear and open pathway for his party to later flourish, while still providing a seemingly plausible reason for the country's degraded position after the World War I, (Spartacus Educational 1). Thus blaming Jewish Germans provided a reason for himself and his aides to take power in order to help eliminate the problem and restore glory and success to the heartland of Germany. This ploy worked wonderfully, and created a scapegoat for Germany's troubles. Unfortunately the result of such a tactic, the death of millions of Jewish people at the hands of the Nazi regime in death camps all over Europe. Hitler used his new found expertise and skills in the art of propaganda to disguise the ugly face of what his actions were truly doing. Thus, the combination of the two proved the ultimate tactic for Hitler's Nazi Germany, as further proven in the success of the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will, (UCLA Design 2004). After mastering the tactics of propaganda and using the fear of outsiders, Hitler reigned over Europe with a violent and iron fist.

Speaking of ruling with an iron clad policy, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was also a master at the tactics most effective in totalitarian governments. Stalin was a master of installing fear into the hearts and minds of his people. Through fear comes submission, and so maintaining one's image through forceful and fearful practices proves an extremely effective tactic within the context of a totalitarian regime. As seen in Arthur Koestler's novel Darkness at Noon, fear can change the nature of a revolution. Although not directly set in the Russian landscape, the novel implies its connections to Stalinist Russia, (Koestler 13). Koestler shows his complete disillusionment with Communism, despite its earlier promises. What replaced it was a tyrannical regime at the sole control of one man; whose control is solidified through the nation's fear of his fury. The novel represents the extreme tactic of ruthless execution in order to curb opposing sides from gaining strength. Stalin did actually execute millions of his own people, including high ranking government officials in order to completely wipe out all forms of resistance to his solitary rule. This not only physically eliminated current conspiracies, but also left a lasting image of fear which proved to eliminate future threats in the proceeding generations. And so, within the context of this… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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