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Totalitarianism: Key Traits and Characteristics
Dictatorship & One-Party Rule
 Absolute authority
 Unchallenged rule
o Dominates the government
Dynamic Leader
 Very strong personality
o Encourages loyalty
 Personality cult
o Becomes the sole focus of the country
o Sees themselves and is seen by their followers as a savior (god
 Develops their own set of beliefs
 Glorifies the population of the country
o Example: Nazi belief in racial superiority
State Control Over All Sectors of Society
 Business, family life, Labor, Religion, Education, etc.
o Example: German priests swore their loyalty to Hitler above all
else including god.
o Example: Educational requirements established Kim Il-Sung
State Control over Individual
 Demands total obedience
o Defiance is not tolerated, violators are punished
o Encourages people to turn in people who question the
 Relies heavily on propaganda
o Has campaign slogans, images of them, even indoctrination
(books, teachings) focusing on them.
Organized Violence
 Use of police terror squads to crush opposition
o Targeting certain groups for persecution
 Example: SS: Germany paramilitary unit
 Example: Jews were persecuted in both Hitler & Stalin’s
 Example: Homosexuals targeted in Nazi Germany
 Example: Mussolini: the Blackshirts, which arrested and
tortured any opposing political parties