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Day 4 – Q 2.What do you understand by ‘totalitarianism’? How did it shape the fate of the world in the first half of the 20th century? Analyse.

2. What do you understand by ‘totalitarianism’? How did it shape the fate of the world in the first half of the 20th century? Analyse.

अधिनायकवाद ’से आप क्या समझते हैं? 20 वीं शताब्दी के पूर्वार्ध में इसने दुनिया के भाग्य को कैसे आकार दिया? का विश्लेषण करें।


Totalitarianism is a concept of regimes (political systems) where government controls all public behavior and as much of private behavior as it can. The idea as a construct was used mainly in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.


Major totalitarian governments in the first half of 20th century:

Soon after WW1, when the world plunged into chaos, the leaders of many countries like Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Stalin in Russia, etc. came forward to bring normalcy under the mask of revolution but began a rule of totalitarianism.

  • Nazi Germany: soon after WW1 and Treaty of Versailles, high rates of joblessness and period of uncontrolled inflation led to Germans becoming susceptible to appeals of political extremes of Adolf Hitler. He began a process of persecution and German domination over almost all of continental Europe and much of Eurasia. After defeat at the hands of US, German land was rebuilt as a democratic state with a strong commitment to civil liberties, freedom and rule of law.
  • Soviet Communism:  Communist states of Russia, under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, maintained strong opposition to free market economics and development. His forced industrialization led to the worst man made famine.

Effect of Totalitarianism:

  • The ideals of liberal democracy and individual freedom faced their greatest challenge in the 20th century with the emergence of several totalitarian political movements. These systems of government were characterized by nearly limitless state control.
  • Three basic characteristics- ruled by a single ruler or party with unrestricted power, violence and intimidation as main tools and no political freedom.
  • It demanded total unrestricted, unconditional and unalterable loyalty of individuals fueled by fear of existence. They killed millions, exploited and banished people by brutal over throw and abolishing every other political party.
  • The government penetrated the entire country through regional, provincial, local and primary organizations. They had control over television, radio, press, education and communication of all forms were censored and subject to their approval.
  • Resulted in loss of human diversity, relationships, nature, harmony and compassion. Any form of freedom and rights had no place in their reign and the people were built and operated on fear and suppression.
  • As the leaders felt invincible, they took nationalism to extreme levels leading to acts of aggression and invasion for acquiring more power.
  • Ultimately this aggression of the totalitarian regimes led to the start of the WW2.


Governments globally were encouraged towards democratic and more peaceful systems of governing people ensuring civil liberties, and social and political freedoms. To avoid wars, conflicts and despotic expansions on these lines the United Nations Organization was formed as an international forum to facilitate cooperation amongst countries immediately after the end of WW2 to preserve world peace.

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