A totalitarian government is a "modern autocratic government in which the state involves itself in all facets of society, including the daily life of its citizens" (Bartleby). One person or an elite few who share similar views are usually in charge of the state and impose their totalitarian views upon the citizens. Throughout history, we have been aware of the presence of totalitarian states such as: Nazi Germany under Hitler, the Soviet Union under Stalin, Fascist Italy under Mussolini, and the People's Republic of China under Zedong. Despite the differences amid totalitarian states, there are several characteristics that they have in common, the two most significant being one ideology that addresses all parts of life and one party led by a dictator. In addition, total subjection of an individual comes only due to science and technology. Mass communication in these states is monitored rigorously.
A form of a secret police force keeps the populace in check and terrified to rebel. Arms and weapons of mass destruction are destroyed kept under control. Most importantly, the emergence of totalitarian governments usually occurs as a result of historical forces, such as chaos during the aftermath of an event such as a World War. When reading George Orwell's 1984, one realizes that many of the aforementioned characteristics are present in the novel and therefore the society and government is totalitarian. Most totalitarian nations have been under the control of one party, which is led by a dictator. There is also an ideology "that addresses all aspects of life and the means to attain the final goal" (Bartleby).
Citizens of a state are made to be entirely dependant upon the party and the leader of the party. In Germany, Hitler led members of the National Socialist group, also known as the Nazis. Zedong and Stalin led the communists in China and Russia. In 1984, the party of the totalitarian state Oceania is the Inner and Outer Party and is led by Big Brother.
The party maintains complete control over the citizens of Oceania. The government is broken up into separate ministries: ". ... the Ministry of Truth, ... the Ministry of Peace, ... the Ministry of Love, ... and the Ministry of Plenty" (Orwell 8). Big Brother is the dictator of the Party and the government and is considered omnipresent although he is never seen in person. The governing party is generally concerned with what goes on in the lives of the civilians, including their personal lives. The party therefore monitors mass communications and controls all of the ways that the citizens receive information. Books, newspapers, magazines, movies, even radio and television broadcasts, are controlled by the party and centered around their beliefs.
The publishers, writers, actors, and actresses are usually required to be members of the party. In 1984, the Party is in compete control of all publications and any announcements that are made. In having this much power over the media, the Party is able to manipulate the people to keep them loyal to Big Brother, the party leader. For complete subjection of the population, the leading party must use advanced technological and scientific means. In 1984, the Party necessitates the use of telescreens in the homes of all citizens except for the Proles. The telescreens is a tool that the Party uses to "receive and transmit simultaneously.
Any sound Winston made... would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision... he could be seen as well as heard" (Orwell 6). In short, the Party uses the telescreens to provide other party members with information but also to watch them. The establishment of totalitarian regimes in the course of history usually followed some sort of political and social upheaval. This is evident when taking into consideration World War I and the effects.
The chaos which followed WWI allowed totalitarian governments to be founded in Russia, Italy, and Germany. In the case of 1984, totalitarianism is established after a revolution occurs. All totalitarian governments employ a secret police to keep the people of the state under control. These police forces usually utilized institutions such as concentration camps, unfair or predetermined trials, and forced confessions. The secret police of 1984 are known as Thought Police. Once you were under their control, "To be killed was what you expected.
But before death, there was the routine confession that had to be gone through: the groveling on the floor and screaming for mercy, the crack of broken bones, the smashed teeth and bloody clots of hair... It was certain that by a given date, you would be dead". (Orwell 87). With similar means as violent as this, the secret police forces of totalitarian nations are able to keep the citizens well behaved and loyal to the party. The governments also have a monopoly of all weapons of mass destruction and guns. The dictators normally do not allow citizens to possess weapons so that, in case of a revolution, the government can quietly and easily put it down.
Winston, the antagonist of 1984, thinks of the Thought Police and how many of the disappearances during the night were in fact suicides. He also brings to attention that "It needed desperate courage to kill yourself in a world where firearms, or any quick and certain poison, were quite unprocurable" (Orwell 86). Therefore, the fact that the common people do not possess weapons, keeps them under the control of the government because they cannot revolt due to scant chances of success. It is obvious while reading 1984 to see that the government in the novel shares characteristics which are common among totalitarian regimes.
The totalitarian nations are usually led by an elite few or a dictator of a party. There have been many totalitarian states throughout the course of history including Germany, Italy, Russia, and China. Regardless of the differences amid totalitarian states, there are several characteristics that they have in common, the two most significant being one ideology that addresses all parts of life and one party led by a dictator. In addition, subjection of an individual occurs due to the use of advancements science and technology. Mass communication in these states is monitored meticulously. A form of a secret police force keeps the populace under control and terrified to rebel.
Most importantly, each totalitarian regime had usually been established in the chaos of a large political or social event. A totalitarian regime is basically described as nation under the control of a select few or one dictator. The basic concepts of a totalitarian state can best be expressed with "all within the state, nothing outside the state, and nothing against the state"- Benito Mussolini. Orwell, George. 1984.
"Totalitarianism", The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. web April 28, 2003. "Totalitarianism", Microsoft (R) Encarta (R) Online Encyclopedia 2003 web.