A totalitarian government is one in which the state, usually under the control of a single political person, has no limits to its authority and strives to control every aspect of public and private life of each individual. Control over attitudes, values, and beliefs enables the government to erase any distinction between state and society. It is almost as if the population under totalitarian government is broken down and brain washed so much so that the government has complete and total control over each individual which is all part of an elaborate scheme to replace the existing society with a perfect society.
As we see in George Orwell’s 1984 the citizens are under a complete totalitarian government that restricts individual thoughts and controls physical and psychological aspects but also restricts the information they receive and technology they use. Although the government in 1984 is fiction, many political leaders have tried to create a perfect nation by rule of totalitarian governments. Hitler’s Nazi Germany was one that can be compared to the views of the 1984 “Big Brother” government. Psychological manipulation is big in totalitarian governments.
If they can mentally break you down, they can brain wash you into believing anything which will in turn lead you to be under total control of the government which is what they want. In 1984 the Party places telescreen in every person’s room which is constantly blasting propaganda to make the Party’s failures seem like huge successes. These telescreens are also used to monitor behavior. Constant reminder comes from every angle with signs boasting “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. ” The Party dissolves family structure by inducting children into the organization as Junior Spies.
Children are easier to control and brainwash, especially if started at a young age. It becomes the reality of their life. They are brainwashed into spying on their parents and told to report any sign of disloyalty to the Party. Sexual desires were supposed to be strictly for reproduction as a means of creating new Party members. This obviously would cause frustration and intense emotion from the citizens which again the Party uses to channel the hatred towards the Party’s political enemies. However, most of the enemies were created by the Party specifically to manipulate citizens into following the totalitarian rule.
Hitler also used manipulation tactics such as propaganda while trying to create a perfect Aryan race. He focused his propaganda against the Versailles Treaty dubbing Jews the number one reason that Germany was having domestic problems. He first excluded Jews from certain communities and Aryan race supremacy and extreme nationalism were combined with profit-sharing and nationalism. Eventually, Hitler was able to eliminate all Jewish privileges with his ultimate goal being total elimination of Jews. Hitler also used brainwashing by having armies of children parade around cities wearing swastikas and saluting to Hitler.
He was able to control the children and it was easier to train them because they were more vulnerable due to age. He made all of his citizens believe that Jews were the enemy. Hitler began speaking to audiences about his dreams for Germany, and people were starting to listen. He promised jobs for everyone and made the Germans hate Jews and other political enemies, just as the Party in 1984. He soon became dictator over all of Germany and was able to open mail, read telegrams, and listen to phone conversations. The German’s were no longer aloud to voice an opinion.
Physical control also comes in to play alongside with psychological control. In 1984 the Party would closely watch for signs of disloyalty saying that even a simple facial twitch could lead to an arrest. The Party would force members to do extreme morning exercises and then work long hours at government agencies. Anyone who does not comply was put under brutal torture in attempts to be reeducated. The Party was able to condition their victim’s minds so much that they could make them believe crazy things that we know are not true, such as the sky is black.
Hitler also had a way of physical control. He would arrest political enemies and burn buildings and blame it on the Communists to make the German’s believe that Russia was trying to take over. He put all “enemies of the state” in concentration camps, some forced to work, others to be eliminated. Prisoners that were strong enough were forced to work hard labor and most died from physical exhaustion and starvation. Hitler forced Nazi doctors to perform medical experiments on the prisoners. The extermination camps that he set up for his so-called “enemies of the state” were designed for mass murder.
Prisoners were gassed in complex gas chambers that could gas up to 6,000 prisoners per day. Many people were imprisoned and abused in the various Nazi camps. SS soldiers wearing swastikas were responsible for the death of more than three million Jews in concentration camps alone. In fact, only a small amount of prisoners in the concentration camps survived. He killed men, women, children, and the elderly without any hesitation or sign of grief. If he saw you fit enough to be forced for labor, that’s what they did until dying of hunger and exhaustion.
If prisoners did not comply or if they tried to escape they were shot on sight. Hitler’s SS guards went as far as even lining people up and shooting them point-blank so that they didn’t have to use as many bullets. As with both The Party in 1984 and Hitler’s Nazi Germany, there was use of symbols as a way of reinforcing power. The Party set up signs everywhere saying “Big Brother Is Watching You” to scare people into acting a certain way so that they did not get punished. Big Brother symbolized the Party and reassured everyone that he was an open threat.
Hitler had his SS soldiers wear uniforms with swastikas all over them. Ironically, the original meaning of the swastika meant “good”. He created a symbol, red outer background, for the social idea of movement, with a white inner circle, meaning the nationalistic idea, around a black swastika, the mission of the struggle for victory of the Aryan race. This symbol was highly feared, as it was used in the extermination of millions of enemies of the state. The swastika is now viewed as a symbol of hate and death. Although there have been many attempts at totalitarian government, all who have tried have failed.
The main focus of totalitarian government is complete and total power. There is this huge goal of creating a utopia with the perfect society. Every attempt at utopia has led to a dystopia primarily because no one is perfect, and there is no way you can please everyone at all times, and no one will ever be able to create a perfect society. That’s the beauty of it, we need people who are able to think and react freely. They are able to enhance the community through different views and opinions instead of walking around be forced to think the way the government wants them to think. Totalitarianism is a very scary thing.