Politics in Minutes (2016)


Authoritarianism and totalitarianism are distinct, but related, types of rule. Authoritarian politics is the exact reverse of the ideals of liberalism and libertarianism, in that it emphasizes the importance of authority and power above freedom, and the rule of law above personal decisions. What marks an authoritarian government or ruler as totalitarian, however, is when the state seeks total authority over society. Totalitarian regimes, such as dictators, military juntas and theocracies, place the authority of the state above the rights of the individual, using their power to dictate and control all aspects of people’s public and private lives, including their attitudes, values and beliefs, and are intolerant of any opposition. All political ideologies, both left- and right-wing fall somewhere on the scale between authoritarianism and libertarianism, but few are genuinely totalitarian. Totalitarianism very often involves a strongly nationalistic or religious element, sometimes with very racist attitudes, and frequently leads to conflict with other nations.