Totalitarianism vs Dictatorship
There are many different types of governances around the world with democracy being the most popular. However, there are countries being ruled by dictators or despots, and there are also countries governed by totalitarian regimes. Totalitarianism and dictatorship are political systems that are anti-democratic setups. However, just because they are opposite to the ideals of democracy doesn’t mean they are identical or interchangeable as is believed by many. This article attempts to highlight the differences between totalitarian and dictatorial regimes to enable readers appreciate these two political systems.
Totalitarian states are states where there is a single party rule. This is an example of extreme collectivism where the state is controlled by a single party either because of religious reasons or because it is considered to be a very good form of governance. In fact, totalitarianism was a term coined as fundamentally different from dictatorship during the times of fascism in Italy. This political ideology perceived the state as the most powerful and having extreme influence over the lives of the citizens to achieve the goals set for the state. The best example of a totalitarian state in history is that of Stalin’s Soviet Union and Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. In recent times, Iraq under the domination of Baath Party controlled by Saddam Hussein has been a perfect example of a totalitarian state.
In a totalitarian political system, there is a single party in the country that controls the state. There is no limit to the authority of the party, and it is the intention of the party to regulate the lives of the citizens. There is a great deal of interference in both the private and public lives of the people of the country, but this is justified in the name of nationalism and accepted as such by the people.
Political system of governance that is autocratic in nature is called dictatorship. This is basically a type of government that is in the hands of a single person whose word is the last word and above all laws. There is no rule of law and the rules are made and broken as per the whims of the dictator. There are variations in dictatorships, and there are examples where all power is concentrated in the hands of a single individual while there are also cases where power remains in the hands of a small group.
Dictatorship is opposite to rule of law and the rule of the people as the government runs without the consent of the citizens. Dictatorship is all about holding on to power disallowing others from aspiring for power, using all means to stay put in power. Idi Amin’s Uganda is a classic example of dictatorship during 1971-79. Dictatorship can be hereditary as in the case of kingdoms ruled by monarchs and kings or it can be governments overtaken through coups by military dictators. Dictatorships are often characterized by brutality and despotic rule suppressing the rights of the people of the country.
What is the difference between Totalitarianism and Dictatorship?
• Totalitarian regimes are characterized by a single party rule whereas dictatorships are characterized by rule of a single person.
• Totalitarian governments have no limits to their authority and exercise great influence over the lives of their citizens.
• Dictatorship is a political system where a single person or a small group of people have all the power to control people.
• In dictatorship, there is no consent of the people to rule them whereas, in totalitarian regimes, people accept one party rule as a better form of governance.
• Dictatorship is defined by where the power comes from whereas totalitarianism is defined by the scope of the government.
• Power remains concentrated in the hands of a single person or a chosen few in a dictatorship whereas power remains in the hands of a single political party in totalitarianism that is an extreme case of collectivism.