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“The ultimate end of any ideology is totalitarianism

-Tom Robbins[1]


Totalitarianism is a kind of governance and a political system that forbids all opposition parties, criminalizes individual resistance to the state, and claims and exerts excessive control over public and private life. It is considered one of the most extreme and comprehensive types of authoritarianism. Such a form of government does not believe in the concept of separation of power. They as a matter of fact provide all powers to the center. The best example of such a form of government lays in China and also in Germany which was under the leadership of Adolph Hitler. Every form of government has its own traits classifying them into a particular form of Government; such traits are also followed in the totalitarian government which makes it different from other forms of governance. Talking about traits, the first being the method of enforcement- the method of enforcement in totalitarian countries is always with the help of terror censorship, and the second one being indoctrination- this trait wants to establish control over the citizens, and establishing such control is done using muscle power which is very prominent. This Article talks about Totalitarianism and the way it strongly violates the basic human rights of an individual.[2]


Totalitarianism is defined as when the government controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives. Totalitarianism, which was first conceptualized in the 1920s by Italian fascists, primarily Giovanni Amendola, has been present in various movements throughout history. Initially, the term was spun to be positive, referring to the positive goals of totalitarian states. However, Western civilizations did not always agree with the concept of totalitarianism, and there was a lot of discussion about it within governments, classrooms, and around the dinner table. Westerners have accused totalitarian governments and movements such as Nazi Germany, the Soviets during communism, and the Stalinist movement of being totalitarian in nature.

  • In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin

Stalin seized power in the Soviet Union following the end of the Civil War. He then began executing anyone who was not in line with the state’s goals.

  • In Italy, Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy in 1922 and immediately began to rule in a totalitarian manner. He used secret police to assassinate citizens who did not support his regime.

  • Adolf Hitler was born in Germany.

Adolf Hitler, best known for his reign in Germany, used totalitarianism to create an obedient nation that reflected his personal vision for the country. During the Holocaust, he used his rule to murder thousands of Jewish citizens.

  • North Korea’s Kim Dynasty

Since 1948, the same family has ruled North Korea. The family has run the country on the principle of self-sufficiency. However, the country’s struggle to maintain totalitarianism has been exacerbated by severe economic declines.

  • In China, Mao Zedong

Chairman Mao led China in a totalitarian manner from 1949, when he established the People’s Republic of China, until his death in 1976. Mao Zedong was responsible for the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, which led to the collapse of the Chinese economy.

  • Afghanistan’s Taliban

The Taliban established The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the late 1990s and controlled 90 percent of the country. This organization was a totalitarian Islamic theocracy that was defunct in 2001. It has gained control over the whole of Afghanistan currently as the former Goverment of Afghanistan collapsed.[3]


Democracy refers to the freedom of a country’s citizens to make their own decisions. The people have total control over the country. It is up to the majority to decide the country’s fate. The authoritarian and totalitarian forms of government are the polar opposites of this type of leadership in government. This type of government is led by a single person or group who is responsible for the entire country. These two types of regimes are similar to dictatorship regimes, but they have significant differences. To begin, an authoritarian regime has a single power holder, either a single person known as the dictator or a committee known as a junta. In this type of government, power is monopolized by a single political figure. Totalitarianism, on the other hand, is an extreme form of authoritarianism. The nation’s social and economic aspects are no longer under government control. The dictators or those in power have charisma over the people in a totalitarian regime. People are drawn to his prophetic leadership, which motivates them to carry out the dictator’s orders. Totalitarian rulers include Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, Benito Mussolini of Italy, and Adolf Hitler of Germany. There is a strong bond between the ruler and the entire nation. The dictator can rule the entire country in this manner. The totalitarian shares an ideology with the people, which makes them follow him. As a result, the person in power is more than just an individual; he or she is more likely a theological tyrant. This sense of being a divine being who leads dispels their image as a power-hungry ruler. Authoritarians, on the other hand, are more concerned with maintaining the status quo and are motivated by control. Famous authoritarians include Uganda’s Idi Amin Dada, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, and the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos. They regard themselves as unique beings that make their own decisions. They see themselves as individual beings, which makes them appear to be power-hungry dictators. Fear and loyalty are used to impose their rule. They build loyalty by rewarding those who work with them. In an authoritarian government, power is centralized and concentrated in the hands of a single authority; it suppresses the voice of the people and all those who oppose it. It uses political parties and mass organizations to persuade people to do whatever it takes to achieve a specific goal[4].          

Totalitarian government and the authoritative form of Government are often misunderstood as a single form of Government with two different names but there is a very minute difference between both of them. Totalitarian state pursues some special kinds of goals such as what area to conquest, how to industrialize, what revenue to be collected in the certain time span. They are successful in doing the same by exploiting their own citizens and the best example of portrayal of totalitarian government in China. Traditional social structures and organizations are discouraged and repressed under a totalitarian government. Recognized public groups are encouraged at first and subsequently compulsory artificial ties to the state and its ideology replace all the religious and social bonds as surety and individualism. Under totalitarian leadership, a huge amount of organized violence becomes legal and sometimes essential, justified by an overarching devotion to state ideology.

Indoctrination as the name suggests is the process used by those nations following and implementing totalitarianism for the people of their nation to teach them certain critical beliefs and make them accept those beliefs so that the government running can force upon their ideologies on the citizens. Censorship on the other hand helps in establishing a nation where people are not aware of their rights. Media is a powerful weapon and this type of government uses media for its own benefit. The media is not allowed to print any news which is against the government and hamper the situation inside the nation and strip the internal peace of a nation or create a hostile situation that gives enemies a chance to conquer the territory. The second method is the use of modern technologies. Mass communication is used to spread propaganda and advanced military weapons. As we saw in the last segment that censorship is imposed on the media to control them from publishing anything against the ruling government. The media here is used and instructed to spread positive propaganda of the said government and attract people towards the government’s ideologies.[5] The education system was fully changed to develop racialism within the students at a young age. Housing labor business are certain aspects which are also controlled by the society are basic essentials and the people do not have access to such essentials as well.[6] A dynamic leader is someone who unites the people, represents the government, encourages and supports the people so that they can follow the rules through their own personal choices. A Dynamic Leader is someone who prioritizes organizational mission, vision, and values over personal power. A Dynamic Leader understands when to lead when to manage, and when to step back. [7]


The sixth type of trait which makes government authoritative is when it takes control over an individual’s life. It demands loyalty from the citizens and then does not provide them with basic liberties and does not create a balanced setup where the rights are equally proportionate to the number of duties they have. The state expects personal sacrifice from the citizens for the good of the nation because the government prioritizes the nation’s development and stance over the life of citizens. The seventh type of trait includes the one-party rule. Excessively the absolute authority exists in the hands of the government when there is no opposition to take and maintain the check and balance of a government.[8]

Earlier, way before the Taliban took over Afghanistan; the Afghanistan government was not at all totalitarian. Afghanistan has never experienced such a form governance at any moment in its history as compared to the present scenario in the country. With the recent takeover of Panjshir valley by the Taliban[9] as well as an effective take over on the whole nation, the Taliban have prohibited girls, women from attending schools, universities or from working[10] as they have proposed ideas for gender segregation. However, The Taliban has allowed girls up to sixth grade to attend school, but they will be taught in separate classrooms from boys.[11] In 1994, the Taliban emerged as a force for social order in the southern Afghan province of Kandahr, quickly subduing the local warlords who controlled the country’s south. By late 1996, popular support for the Taliban among Afghanistan’s southern Pashtun ethnic group, combined with assistance from conservative Islamic elements abroad, had enabled the faction to seize Kabul and effectively control the country. However, opposition to the Taliban persisted, particularly among non-Pashtun ethnic groups. Except for a small section of northern Afghanistan, the Taliban controlled the entire country by 2001. By early September, the US and the Taliban had reportedly reached an agreement in principle and were working out the details of a signed agreement when a Taliban attack in Kabul killed a US service member. Days later, the US called off a secret meeting between top US and Taliban officials, blaming the cancellation on the attack. In late February 2020, an agreement was reached. The Taliban agreed to start talks with the central government within 10 days of signing the agreement, as well as to prevent al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL; also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS]) from operating in Afghanistan. The US, for its part, would phase out its troop presence in the country over a 14-month period, beginning with troop reductions in March. Negotiations between the Taliban and the central government resumed after a delay caused by the central government’s unwillingness to carry out a prisoner swap promised to the Taliban by the US. However, little progress had been made in the negotiations by April 2021. Nonetheless, the US reiterated its commitment to complete the withdrawal of its troops, though the deadline was pushed back from May to September.[12]

The Taliban, on the other hand, defeated and demolished the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, which Sarabi had championed. Women are no longer allowed to hold political office in their Islamic emirate. Despite the Taliban’s assurances that they would build an “inclusive Islamic system,” no male representatives of the now-defunct order have been found. The new Taliban regime is a victors’ absolutist government. There are no other political voices. There will be no “losers.” In this way, fundamentalists are repeating the international community’s disastrous mistake. The end result is well known: the Afghan escalated. It was taken to Afghan villages by US and NATO forces, and the civilian population paid the price. After 20 years, international troops finally walked off the battlefield and the Taliban are now celebrating their victory over the superpower. However, winning a battle is not the same as ruling an impoverished, multiethnic country of around 38 million people in the twenty-first century. There is already armed opposition. There are also peaceful street demonstrations by courageous women and men.  Afghanistan’s people are in a terrible situation. Millions of people are hungry, and millions more are internally displaced as a result of ongoing drought, insecurity, and violence. The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian disaster and a new Afghan refugee movement. Since the Taliban took power, financial aid from the international community, on which Afghanistan is completely reliant after four decades of war, has been frozen. The economy is collapsing, and humanitarian aid is in jeopardy. A new Afghan government’s first duty would be to assist and protect its people. Afghanistan appears to be on the verge of becoming a country where women, minorities, and dissidents must become invisible in order to survive. Afghanistan is rapidly reverting to its former status as a repressive Islamic emirate.[13]


The Taliban is greatly hampered by the radical and medieval interpretation of Sharia law which they are unable to renounce. At this critical juncture, the Afghan people look to the Human Rights Council to defend and protect their rights. The need to prevent human rights violations of even greater magnitude and scope necessitates this issue. The Taliban’s rapid takeover of much of the country, including the capital, has raised grave concerns about a return to past patterns of human rights violations and has fueled desperation among many Afghans.[14] For many years, Afghanistan has been one of the most unsafe places for children. It has gotten worse in recent weeks. UNICEF predicts that if immediate action is not taken and initiated, 1 million children under the age of five will be severely malnourished by the end of 2021, and 3 million will be moderately acutely malnourished. UNICEF is increasingly concerned about the rise in serious violations, particularly the recruitment of children by armed groups.[15] Thousands of refugees are being extracted as nations with a presence in Afghanistan airlift their citizens out of Kabul. Some of these cases involve unaccompanied minors. While every effort is made to place children with family members, some children will inevitably need to enter their new state’s foster care system. The last twenty years have seen a significant expansion of women’s rights due to the influence of the United States and international pressure. Young females began to be educated. There was hope for young women to become something other than housewives. That progress is now in jeopardy of being undone. Some Afghans are concerned that, despite the Taliban’s claims to be more moderate this time, they cannot be trusted to respect women’s rights and that the old rule of law will be restored. LQBTQI+ community is not in a safe space. Nobody knows what the next few months will bring. When is the violence going to stop? Afghanistan’s resilient men, women, and children, especially like the children in orphanages and foster homes, will continue to have hopes and dreams for their future. Will they be successful in obtaining them? What are people in the country and around the world willing to do to give these people a better future?[16]

[1] Totalitarianism Quotes, Available At,


[2] Totalitarianism government, available at

[3] Examples of Totalitarianism: Leaders and Countries, available at

[4] Difference between Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism, available at,

[5] Hayden Gore, Totalitarianism: The Case Of Turkmenistan, Topical Research Digest: Human Rights In Russia And The Former Soviet Republics

[6] Marijan Dović, Totalitarian and Post-totalitarian Censorship: From Hard to Soft?, Institute of Slovenian Literature and Literary Studies SRC SASA, Ljubljana

[7] The Theory of Totalitarian Leadership available at leadership-1af00db6873e

[8]Totalitarianism, available at,

[9] One month since Taliban takeover, available at, us-7513327/

[10]Taliban ban female employees from entering ministry of women available at

[11] Afghanistan’s Taliban prohibit girls from attending secondary school, as boys return to classrooms, available at

[12] Taliban political and religious faction, Afghanistan, available at

[13] Opinion: Afghanistan — all power to the Taliban?, available at,

[14] Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, available at

[15] Geneva Palais briefing note on the current situation of children in Afghanistan, available at

[16] Taliban Rule Causes Concern for Vulnerable Children, The Oak Life Journal, available at, 6LBhDlARIsAIPRQcLuOGMXq_mvtDEd2gsdpddO7BqKHvU6rP8jQib9KlXEcktw9eyTTUcaAuVCEALw_wcB

Author: Apurva Singh, Presidency University, School of Law, Bengaluru

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India

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