In the United States and other nations worldwide, the people exist under a democratic government. In a democracy, people are allowed to elect their leaders and have their voices heard, which lets them have a say in their government. However, a democracy is only one form of government among many.
There is another popular and common form of government around the world that just so happens to behave in the exact opposite way of a democracy. This type of government is known as totalitarianism.
Totalitarian countries are nations in which the government does not permit its people to partake in political decision making. Totalitarian countries are also known as dictatorship countries. A totalitarian country is ruled by a single dictator or a group that has not been collectively elected.
The ruling leaders of totalitarian countries do not merely enact laws. Instead, the people or person in charge controls all aspects of both public and private life. There is no limit to what a totalitarian government can control because there are no checks or balances placed on the country's leaders. Essentially, totalitarians can do whatever suits their agenda and say anything that comes to mind.
As a result, totalitarian countries are absolutely against the right of free speech, which includes a ban on any and all freedom of the press. Some ideologies, beliefs, and religions may even be forbidden in a totalitarian country.
The government has full and total control, while the country's citizens have little to no freedom. Totalitarian leaders often rule through fear because they take advantage of people's emotions to keep them from revolting and protesting. When you live in fear, you do not know how to speak out against injustices because you are scared. It becomes a matter of staying silent in order to stay alive, and totalitarian rulers know this. They thrive off of this natural human instinct.
To ensure that people show complete alliance and compliance with the government, totalitarian rulers often have secret police forces that make sure they do not try to step out of line. In some nations, specific religious and political populations are targeted by the totalitarians and their police forces.
Speaking out against the government is strictly prohibited in these nations. While democracies pride themselves on the way people can form and express their own reactions to the government, people who live in totalitarian regimes must agree with everything the government does, says, and enforces. It is not necessarily true that everyone agrees with their totalitarian rulers, but they cannot express their disagreement outwardly.
The Origin of Totalitarian Countries
Benito Mussolini, the dictator of Italy for many years, is credited for coining the term totalitarianism. He initially called a government of this nature a totalitario back in the early 1900s. He created the word to describe what we now recognize as fascism, but his exact words were that a totalitarian state has a government in which "all [are] within the state, none outside the state, [and] none against the state."
By the time the Second World War was underway, totalitarianism was recognized as an actual type of government system. The original definition of totalitarian governments considered them to be an oppressive way of ruling a nation. Many other dictators ruled under the guise of totalitarianism, so Mussolini was not alone.
A few examples of leaders who ruled totalitarian countries include:
- Adolf Hitler of Germany under Nazi rule
- Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union
- The Kim Dynasty of North Korea
- Mao Zedong of the People's Republic of China
The Number of Current Totalitarian Governments
Currently, the State of Eritrea and North Korea are the only two nations in the world that still have governments classified as totalitarian dictatorships. However, Eritrea and North Korea have not always been the only two totalitarian nations in the world. There were eleven totalitarian nations in the past.
This form of government has been used in other nations, including:
- The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics
- The Greater German Reich
- The National Legionary State
- The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea
- The People's Republic of China
- The Democratic Kampuchea
- The People's Socialist Republic of Albania
- The Socialist Republic of Romania
- The Socialist Republic of Burma
- The State of Eritrea