Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state holds total authority over society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible (Wikipedia). States that attempt to control and direct all aspects of individual life were the Maurya dynasty of India (c. 321 – c.185 bc), the Ch’in dynasty of China (221 – 206 bc) and the reign of Zulu chief Shaka (c. 1816 – 1828). Later on in the early 1920s, Mussolini established Totalitarianism in Italy calling it the fascist state of Italy. In 1924 till 1953 Stalin started popular Totalitarianism as well as Hitler in 1933 till 1945. They managed to get overwhelming support for their leadership due to modern communication and being a charismatic leader.
When hearing Totalitarianism words such as dictatorship, despotism or tyranny are quite often triggered. The moment a state is pushed into Totalitarianism by it’s new leader there will be a spring cleaning and all political institutions and its traditions will be swept away and replaced by new ones. The state gets a special goal to pursuit and all resources are directed towards this goal no matter the costs and consequences. All resistances that may arise about achieving the goal will be rationalized and any dissident will be marked as evil and against the state. The pursuit of the goal is the only ideological foundation of the totalitarian state.
All social institutions and organizations under Totalitarianism are discouraged or suppressed through which a social safety net is weakened as well as the people. Artificial ties to the state only and its ideology replace old religions and social ties. Individualism is diminished and in the end people will embrace the totalitarian state’s ideology. Mass conformity arises and diversity of the individual no longer exists. Organized violence on a large scale will be used to keep the people committed to the state and its ideology. In Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union we saw the Jews and Kulaks being killed and singled out and this action being rationalized as good and in honour of the state’s ideology. The actions of a totalitarian State such as police enforcement can be labelled as unpredictable and directed by the whim of their rulers. Hitler for instance passed a law in 1933 that enabled him to amend the constitution at will, which he used to put the constitution offside.
Totalitarianism can be seen as an act against life and will never be able to envision or oversee the harm and consequences it will cause to life in its entirety. When people are forced into living in a totalitarian regime, and this can be after they are born into such a system or after change of government, they no longer have a voice in the very system. The only voice they have left is the voice of fear, fear of survival. It might not be a surprise that even when these people are set free from such a regime they simply do not know how to live their own life with their own values. The consequences of living under a totalitarian regime may even have consequences into the next generations. An entire population that never have been brought up to decide things, in their lives, for themselves will become an apathetic and thus initiative less population that are only raised to follow orders. As we’ve seen in Nazi Germany such practices can have devastating consequences when the population obeys a regime as if it were their own desires. Imagine that your state will think for you all your life long, would you be full of zest for life? When people are released from such a regime it will not be a surprise that they have to learn how to become self-responsible instead of being responsible for the orders they were used to take. Therefore developing critical thinking will not happen over night and just as said before this might take generations before a whole population is able to find their true selves again and develop their own set of principles in alignment or separated from the national ones, depending on who’s in power.
People that live in a relatively ‘free’ and democratic country mostly can’t get the fact that for instance people in North Korea were genuinely sobbing about the lost of their dear dictator Kim Il Sung at some point in history. When we look at the reality of people in such countries we can see that its merely survival. They identify with their dictator and the state’s ideology to no longer be perceived as a threat to the state. It’s a way of bonding, becoming a victim through which they believe the state’s ideology and thus are able to gain sympathy for the dictator and his regime. This behaviour is labelled as the Stockholm syndrome or to be precise the Oslo syndrome since we’re talking about an entire population. So taking away the dictator/aggressor doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire population will change their point of view over night. These people are traumatized and have no longer their own set of values to live by let alone their power and voice in the system.
It will not be very hard to understand that Totalitarianism isn’t the way to go. When we take away the self-responsibility of an entire population through victimizing them and never learning them to live by their own principles, life will be zombified. Then the question arises: do we want to be told what to think and do? Or are we ready to come up with our own solutions for the consequences we’ve caused? Quite often in first world countries there seems to be so much choice that people become passive as a reaction to it and wouldn’t mind to be told what to choose in order to make things easy and effortless. So the real question is: are we ready to lead ourselves, are we self-leaders?
Self-leadership in the best interest of all in all ways would be the answer to a lot of the problems we face on this earth. If we do not pollute we will not end up with a polluted world. If we would walk the talk we would actually get things done. If we would direct ourselves by principle we would no longer point fingers at others when it comes to blame and solving issues. Taking self-responsibility and living life the fullest will not only enrich our own lives, but as well the lives of others. Of course we can practise self-leadership within any economic and political system, though the effectiveness will depend on the amount of freedom within the particular system. When one lives under Totalitarianism one still has self-leadership about ones thoughts/emotions and feelings and when one lives in a democratic system one is more likely able to walk one’s principles in a more open way and even start initiatives that do bring change.
In other words self-leadership is a start that can only fully blossom when it’s accompanied by an economic system that values all life equally. Self-leadership in itself is something that needs to be taught to the majority, since this isn’t something that comes naturally for most of us. The current schooling system doesn’t allow for self-leadership, in the contrary, it allows our kids to become good workers in the existing systems. Thus with the economic system the current schooling system will no longer exist since it’s not supporting self-leadership in kids. As a matter of fact most teachers in the system see students with critical thinking skills as unsuitable and difficult in the classroom. Self-leadership will not be developed when there is no critical thinking, where critical thinking is not defined as constantly asking questions to manipulate a situation due to fear or lack of vocabulary. These are kids that do disturb class and are not adding any value to the group process.
To develop self-leadership in kids it’s important to enlarge their vocabulary already at a young age, preferable by parents that have walked that same path themselves. By the time these kids are ready to join the labour market they know what they need to do, they know what their strong points are and where they can add value to society. Already by changing the schooling system and being open for another form of economic system such as a Living Income Guaranteed life will be so much more. The question might arise where you as an adult can make your change or contribution in the system, knowing that you are educated and formed by the old system? One point we need to understand is the fact that change can happen always in all ways. No one is too old to not be able to change. When you have young kids you can make the change along with your kids, when you don’t have kids or young kids you can lead yourself into self-change. Whenever you see that things need to be changed in our world know that you need to change yourself first to create a momentum for all to change. Self-leadership is in all of us and yes being the leader can result in being alone at the top from time to time when there is no one there to tell you what to do. We hate it when we get told what to do and at the same time we love it when we do not have to take self-responsibility leaving a back door open to blame another than ourselves when things blow up in our face. So what we need is to make a clear stance, are we up for self-leadership within a LIG environment or do we want to stay zombified and victimized by our own will. I know I’ll have the choice to free myself and be my own leader and as I can do it you can do it.