Age of Tyrants
When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.
The last century produced a rash of hostile, murderous police states that collectively led to death tolls in the millions. Stalinist Russia and Maoist China murdered over 50 million of their own people, not to mention the deaths of millions through wars against neighboring countries. Other nations, like Nazi Germany defined the totalitarian police state, searing the public imagination with images of concentration camp victims, a ruthless war machine and state-of-the-art propaganda that galvanized an entire nation behind the will of Adolf Hitler who will probably forever remain the epitome of the wicked tyrant.
After the Second World War, the proliferation of repressive statist governments only increased. A short list would include communist Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Poland and North Vietnam. A longer list would include Angola, Albania, Cuba and every single country in South America was under a repressive military dictatorship at one point or another during the last half of the 20th century.
There is no one ideology that totalitarian nations conform to: the Roman Catholic Church maintained totalitarian control over medieval Europe for a thousand years; monarchies throughout man’s history have often crushed their subjects; and in recent times, the so-called free nations have preached freedom and democracy, yet practised torture, occupation and destruction.
Though the ideologies of repressive regimes may differ, some being communist, others fascist and socialist, these dictatorial nations share many similarities which contrast with the democratic qualities that a progressive, engaged citizenry would prefer. The following is a brief summary of the shared characteristics of totalitarian states.
Revolutionary Ideology – the destruction of the “old” regime is necessary to pave the way for the “new age” of the “people’s party.” The leaders of the revolution are not looking for the slow, patient, incremental improvement of the nation by evolution; they want the radical, immediate results of revolution. The regime is anti-liberal, anti-conservative and anti-pluralistic. The libs are seen as decadent, dissident and traitorous; the conservatives are too traditional, holding back the new age and regimented; and the pluralists are seen as compromisers, corrupt and intent on tainting the purity of the state
One party system – the party with tentacles in every office of society is cellular and malleable; it functions to siphon power to militant groups like the Bolsheviks or Hitler’s Brown Shirts and to create a platform for the personality cult of the charismatic leader. The overthrow of the previous government is often accomplished by military coup, in which case the military regime stays in power and martial law is permanently instituted to “protect” the people from the “lawless rebels” and “traitors” who attempt to win back the country.
God-like leader – the all-powerful, infallible leader is adored and venerated, usually by a massive propaganda effort and relentless media campaign that demands unconditional devotion. The personality cult, unfortunately attracts a dedicated following from the populace who swear undivided devotion and are willing to bear the cruelest atrocities, promote the oppressive, destructive policies and aid in the party’s complete control of the nation’s political, social, religious and economic life.
Massive bureaucracy – the amount and complexity of a nation’s bureaucracy is inversely proportional to its spirituality. Because totalitarian governments empty themselves of religion, the vacuum is soon filled with endless legal codes, regulations, laws and requirements in the effort to control every aspect of the citizen’s life. The Nazis were prolific policy-makers; new departments and offices were constantly created. The duplication of offices helped foster competition between rivals which allowed the Fuhrer to act as sole adjudicator. Communist China under Mao was similarly entrenched in an all-encompassing bureaucratic machine which held the nation in the grip of fear and paralysis.
Nationalism – totalitarian police states need to justify their authority by virtue of their patriotic, ethnocentric belief that their country is the best in the world, surpassed by none. The fuel for nationalism is the innate patriotism of the people which is carefully nurtured and fed in order to lead the entire nation down the slippery slope of totalitarianism.
A clearly defined enemy. The people must be marshaled into accepting the militarism of the state as needed due to the imminent threat of attack whether from the enemy within or from a foreign invader. The Nazis had the Jews; Stalin and Lenin railed against the capitalists, the kulaks and the imperialist monarchy; the current US regime has the so-called threat of Islamic terrorists who are lurking in every city and plotting destruction in caves in foreign lands.
Restrictions of civil liberties – due to the threat of imminent attack, the people are subjected to all kinds of abuse of their civil liberties in the name of national security. Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association are the usual prime targets of totalitarian regimes. As the state continues on its tyrannical path, dissidents, intellectuals and activists protest all the more loudly which threatens the regime further who institute even more draconian restrictions on basic freedoms.
Repression of religion – Stalin, Mao, Hitler all attempted various degrees of control over national religious activity. Stalin murdered millions of Christians; Mao repressed any and all religious activities and promoted Party membership as the substitute for religion. Theocratic regimes are also generally repressive of any religion that is not the state religion. The State serves to replace the Church, religion and God with its own ideology, messianic leader and organization of servitude.
Secret police – totalitarian regimes generally employ a vast network of police, secret service, agents and thugs who provide surveillance, control and coercion against the general populace. The current US government’s intelligence network of NSA, Homeland Security, TSA, CIA, FBI etc is a pretty good indicator that the US is well on their way down the road of totalitarianism.
Propaganda – through the use of the State controlled media an unending campaign is launched to promote the leader and the State. Glowing reports of the State’s successes, despite the obvious concurrent downfall of the economy, are produced daily on all media outlets. The State’s negative view of other countries, dissidents and the national enemy is also promoted relentlessly.
Dissidents, intellectuals and those who venture any opinion outside of the party line are marginalized, ridiculed and
scandalized. Western propaganda has become even more subtle: both sides of the issue are misrepresented, distorted and blurred; issues are purposefully confused and complicated so it is almost impossible to find out the truth. Opinion is kept divided on every issue so no consensus can ever be arrived at; this keeps the population divided and controlled.
When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.
Totalitarian governments generally reveal any or all of the above characteristics in increasing proportion to the ability of the rulers to gain more power and subjugate the people without approval or complaint. If democracy is defined as “government by the people, for the people, of the people,” we can then define totalitarian government as rule that is neither by the people, for the people or of the people.
That is, government that is destructive not only to the general population but is self-destructive of the nation itself and therefore suicidal. A regime addicted to power is a regime marching off the cliff into the abyss. Totalitarian regimes generally target, persecute and predictably imprison or murder their best citizen which very rapidly leads to the downfall of the regime.
Stalin murdered an estimated 300,000 priests, imprisoned 2000 of the leading writers and poets (of whom 1500 died in prison camps); he murdered 18,000 Mongolian Buddhist monks and due to the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of atheism as the national ideology, he is responsible for the deaths of between 15-20 million Christians.
With the leading citizens dead or imprisoned there is no one left to guide the nation; there is no restraint on power; no public debate on policy and therefore the unbridled lunacy of the madmen takes control of an asylum of their own making. With the middle-class all but wiped out, the innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs that drive a nation to prosperity are also destroyed, and therefore, the nation’s competitive edge is severely curtailed.
The reason that democratic principles are more successful and produce more technological innovation is because they provide the soil for the growth of innovation and creative progress. A nation like the US with strong protection of individual liberties allowed the progressive, idealistic innovators to flourish. Sadly the US is rapidly going the way of power-mad regimes and may soon collapse under the weight of its current mania for war, profit, empire, sex and degeneracy.
~ Chapter 5 of the Urban Joshua