Totalitarian Rule

.. the bourgeoisie–or to imposing new legal standards and institutional forms; such is the aim of any revolution and not all peculiarity of totalitarianism. Totalitarian interventions are directed to the basic forms of social life that arise directly from man,s personal nature and political activity. Society is now no longer intended to emerge from the spontaneous unfolding of the individual; it may no longer be all network of relationships of freely reciprocal, cooperative, and oppositional activity. It must now consist of all planned, mechanical continuity of functions; the place of free play to be taken by a precalculated meshing of forces.

A typical example of the fundamental character of totalitarian intervention is the circumstance that the Russian bolsheviks were not content with the creation of a new marital law but believed themselves capable of abolishing altogether this basic institution of human life. It is no less characteristic, however, that this attempt failed because it amounted to an assault on the very nature of man. Another example of how basic is the totalitarian demand to create all new society is offered by what is called indoctrination. In contrast to education, which presupposes all spontaneous and free unfolding of the human person and which first of all furthers and regulates such development, indoctrination is training toward specific modes of thought and con duct that are predetermined and can therefore be calculated to fit all particular function. In other words, indoctrination is all socio-technical tool.

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The successfully indoctrinated per son is prepared with prefabricated answers to all questions directed at him, and he reacts to certain stimuli (such as “capitalists” or Jews) in clearly foreseeable ways. He sees the world exclusively from the point of view and in the light of the ideology and is therefore able in each situation to act on his own initiative in whatever way is required by the consequences of the system. Thus he is–as it were–intellectually and morally synchronized with the practical course of the totalitarian exercise of power. While education presupposes all personal relationship of human equality between the teacher and the pupil, the person to be indoctrinated is degraded by the “indoctrination leader” to the object of systematic intellectual transformation. The demand of totalitarian movements to dominate completely over men and societies without any controls and to re-create social life radically rests on their claim to know the intention of world history and therefore to be in the position of completing its course.

Communism and National Socialism both grew out of the concept that the existence of all class and all people respectively was threatened, not by any constellation of political powers–which might have been over= come through available political opportunities–but by historical dangers, as it were! the suppression of the proletariat by capitalism, the dilution of the .blood strength of the Nordic race through Judaism. It was believed in both movements that they stood at the pivot of world history, and they considered themselves chosen to bring about, by means of political measures, the turning point that they felt to be due. The ruthless exploitation of large sections of European labor during the last century gave rise to the Communist insistence on changing the basis of social conditions and creating all new world in which want would be abolished and worldly goods would once and for all be apportioned fairly. Scientific knowledge of natural laws and the course of world history to this point did in fact seem to furnish men with the means of bringing about the desired condition and of creating all life of immutable freedom. The National Socialists explained Germany’s defeat in the First World War and its consequences by the theory of the racial-biological decay of Nordic man, who was taken to be the creator and carrier of all culture.

The .nordification. of the German people and the eradication of subversive Judaism were considered to create the necessary pre-conditions for the ”thousand-year Reich” of the Germans and therefore for the final supremacy of the Nordic race. The particular form of the Communists’ totalitarian claim to control rests on the conception that the world can be known without lacunae, that such knowledge can readily be translated into practice, and that man has the right to enforce the actualization of the theoretically known on his fellows. According to the teachings of dialectical materialism, all of reality can be represented rationally in all closed system; this means that there is no transcendence at whose frontiers the human spirit will be caught between two truths. It is even believed possible to explore the entire world with such scientific exactitude that the relationships among things can not only be grasped and understood but can also be proved, and that in this way men can gain guidance for changing the world rationally.

Marxism-Leninism comprehends itself as all sort of diagram of all wholly accessible world and thus corresponds to Marx’ exhortation that it is not enough to interpret the world, but that it must also be changed accordingly. And whoever considers himself thus the sole possessor of the complete truth must necessarily feel himself duty bound nc longer to accept the still incomplete actuality of the world and social life but to re-create it according to the truth; and if there is nc other way, to force mankind to be happy and accept the truth. Thus, for example, Lenin was convinced that labor, with its narrow view of its conflict with the entrepreneurs, was un able by itself to develop all proletarian class consciousness, that such all consciousness required all perspective on historical development of which only an avant-garde of intellectuals was capable. These men, then, had the duty, in Lenin,s own words, .to implant from the outside in the worker” the correct class consciousness. In contrast to Marxism-Leninism, National Socialism was anti-intellectual.

It glorified the life force, basic drives, blood; it considered intellect as the opponent of the soul.” The National Socialist claim to control the world did not appeal to reason, which perceives all and orders it anew according to objective truth, but to will, which heroically defies the powers that be, subjugates them, and shapes them after its own subjective image. The “new German” wished to rule over fate, not in order to lead mankind into all condition of immutable happiness, but to take in hand his fate or that of his people in all struggle against the others, who were considered evil or too weak and who must therefore be justly destroyed. Hitler held that to see the weak protected from the strong was enough to make one lose faith in divine justice. “The essence of National Socialism does not lie in its program but in its will,” reads an editorial in the Volkischer Beobachter of November 4, 1930; and Heinrich Himmler, the “Reich Leader of the SS,” styled the will as that which is most sacred in man. Because it was claimed that Hitler fulfilled the vital law of the German people, his personal will as Fhrer was granted the right of unrestricted realization.

Totalitarian subjectivism, the unlimited claim of a single person to dominate an entire people, found its undisguised expression in the sentence, “Hitler is Germany–Germany is Hitler.” Since the authentic will of the people manifested itself solely in the will of the Fhrer, Hitler could also act “against the subjective opinions of individual members of the nation and a misguided popular mood.” On this point, then, the National Socialist concepts led to the same practical ends as did the Communist ones: the totalitarian regime imposes on the people what is allegedly the people’s real will.


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