I’ve been thinking about totalitarianism lately. This, in part I guess, because I’ve been reading about the philosopher Hannah Arendt who escaped Nazi Germany in the 1940’s and, as a Jew, gave considerable thought to the subject.
Ms. Arendt determined that a successful totalitarian regime is able to establish a commitment to certain idealisms, such as racial purity or nationalistic solidarity, at the expense of basic human rights. By creating and enforcing with a heavy hand certain rules and laws focused on idealisms, plurality and individuality are undermined and an undifferentiated populace is championed. Faced with being ‘for us or against us’ the individual trying to go about his business taking care of family, putting food on the table and such will understandably become fearful. The fear of being perceived as an outsider tends to push ordinary citizens to embrace and participate in the extreme right wing political agenda. And, before long, most everyone is on board except, of course, those chosen as scapegoats to represent all that is evil and in opposition to the selected ideal truths.
As I think about it, it seems to me most all political structures, even those that declare democratic rule, have a bit of an inclination to push idealisms and demonize an opposition. Hopefully, individual strength and perseverance will hold such totalitarian impulses at bay. One must be careful, thought, not to take individual freedoms for granted, I think.