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Totalitarianism as Concept and Reality - Essay Example

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In the article “Totalitarianism as Concept and Reality”, Bracher elaborates on his theme by providing an explanation of his concept of the term as well as a real-world example of how this is happening in the modern day world…
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Totalitarianism as Concept and Reality
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Totalitarianism as Concept and Reality
To fully appreciate the contribution Karl-Dietrich Bracher brings to the discussion of Totalitarianism, it is necessary to understand a little of his background. Bracher is a German political scientist who has given a great deal of attention to studying the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. His many writings have often focused on the ideas of Totalitarianism versus Democracy. His arguments tend to introduce a concept of totalitarian democracy rather than the greater accepted idea of totalitarian fascism. In the article “Totalitarianism as Concept and Reality”, he elaborates on his theme by providing an explanation of his concept of the term as well as a real world example of how this is happening in the modern day world.
In defining his concept of the new totalitarian regime, Bracher indicates there are two basic building blocks that lead to its development. These are the need for a strong leader in the interwar years as well as the ability of the new technological age to influence a great number of people to accept a single unified ideology. This ideology was enforced with a strict rule that was voluntary on the surface, yet enforced with a death sentence when not adhered, usually justified by reference to a new world order that brings a better life to the masses or the need of the public for a new religious zeal in the age when religious dogma was losing its ground. Despite its claims for being capable of reaching the highest goals in terms of democracy and the perfect welfare state, the goal of totalitarianism, Bracher claims, was to completely eradicate any sense of the individual in favor of the new state, a goal that was communicated to the people through the use of heavy propaganda and new modes of mass communication that served to deceive many.
Through these investigations, Bracher identifies three main characteristics of a totalitarian state. The first characteristic is the attempt made by a single party to retain all control of power and the need of this party to reduce any and all opposition or suggestion of fallibility. This one party system then provides a base for itself on military ideology, making full use of such techniques as secret police, persecution of those who oppose the party and heavy employment of propaganda aids to influence the more general public. “According to findings of recent work in mass psychology, the goal is the creation of a permanent war mood directed against an enemy that is defined in absolute terms” (Bracher). This propagandized control is influenced both to assure the public of its security as well as to frighten it into submission. Finally, the three regimes of totalitarianism that Bracher uses to analyze the phenomenon (Italian Fascism, Russian Bolshevism and German National Socialism), indicate a state wherein it is believed that a single strong party such as described so far is preferable and much more effective than the traditional democratic state. This is because of the perceived ability of the totalitarian state to completely control economic and social planning as well as provide quick military reactions, but in all cases, these benefits have not manifested at the expense of a tremendous loss of freedom.
Bracher concludes by indicating that the only way to eliminate this type of totalitarian control is by finding a name for it that more closely reflects its true nature. This is because those governments that most closely resemble it will reject the concept almost categorically while the idea of totalitarianism emerges as more of a “tendency, a temptation or seduction, rather than a definitive form of government” (Bracher). Yet it remains as a means of suppressing a people and leading to a general decline in society nevertheless.
Bracher, K-D. “Totalitarianism as Concept and Reality.” Turning Points in Modern Times: Essays in German and European History. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, (1995), pp. 145-7, 151. Read More
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