Totalitarian and High-Capacity Authoritarian Regimes


The purpose of this essay is to compare and contrast of Totalitarian and High-Capacity Authoritarian Regimes government systems in terms of principles, ideology, enforcement, leadership role as well as control systems.

Gregor (2014) stated that Totalitarianism defines a government which have total control of the state. Government poses centralised control on private and public life and leaders in the totalitarian system provide a sense of security as well as set direction for the future of the state. Nevertheless, totalitarian contests with western democracy principles of human dignity, freedom and value of the individuals.

On the other hand, Kirsch & Dillehay (2015) described that authoritarianism is a system of government which is linked with dictatorship rather following democratic principles. In the authoritarian system, power is kept in the hand of leader or small group of elite and they are not constitutionally responsible and accountable to people.

In comparison with a totalitarian system, the authoritarian government does not have developed ideology. Nonetheless, high-capacity authoritarianism is a response to capitalism and democracy failure during the greater depression of 1930 as well as lengthy periods of crisis (Second World War), authoritarian is used to recover the economies and mobilise the state. These two systems have their unique characteristics and features (Brooker, 2014).

Totalitarianism is the most distinctive form of government among the non-democratic government. Totalitarianism emerged in mid-1930 as the part of the fascist Italy ideology presented by the Mussolini. He argued that nothing is outside the state, against the state and everything is the part of the state.  Moreover, totalitarianism was re-emerged during 1950 to describe the communist and fascist regimes (Gerschewski, 2016).

Totalitarianism was first elaborated as new as well as an extreme form of dictatorship by Arendt (1951) and the two important example of the totalitarianism during the era was Stalin’s communist system and the dictatorship of the Hitler Nazi. The objective of the totalitarian is that leader wants permanent domination on each individual and every sphere of life and the basis for the totalitarianism is gathering of people masses that have experienced extreme individualization as well as social isolation (Baehr & Wells, 2014; Moran, 2015).

According to Lechte & Newman (2014), the features and traits of the totalitarian includes the state control of the individuals (denies individual liberties and personal sacrifices for state), state control of society (religious, labour, education and business) as well as totalitarian is enforced through terror of police, indoctrination and prosecution. In totalitarianism, the dynamic leadership encourages support through force and unites people through proposing set of goals for the state which justify actions of the state.

Lechte & Newman (2015) added that Totalitarian system was created in a different way both in Germany and the Soviet Union. The Nazi regime gained power through winning the support of masses which were affected by the social, economic and political crises.

On the other hand, in the Soviet Union, the totalitarian masses were mobilised against the communist movement of one-party dictatorship. Stalin created the masses through the destruction of the capitalist structure. Hitler or Stalin as functionally indispensable leaders as well as role played by the state police was prominent in these totalitarian regimes (Geyer & Fitzpatrick, 2015).

The theory of totalitarian dictatorship and autocracy proposed by the Friedrich and Brzezinski (1956) enclosed detailed description of modern totalitarian regime highlight Nazi Germany, communist Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, china as well as Communist Soviet Union through explaining interrelated the features of totalitarian which are single party ideology, communication and weapon monopoly along with centrally directed economy and terroristic police (Gentile, 2016).

Killingsworth (2015) discussed that this evolution of totalitarian is defined through mass democracy using the technology and leadership ideology is based on social, economic, political and cultural rebellion. The structure of the totalitarian regime is based on a party led by a prominent leader with followers as well as terroristic police.  Therefore, the totalitarian regime involves pseudo-charismatic, emotional and religious mystical identification of the leadership which possessed absolute power (Zhong, 2014).

Feldman (2014) discussed that the first generation of totalitarianism has six patterns which single party, ideology, communication and weapon monopoly which control by terroristic police and central control economic system. Moreover, the elaboration of the second generation theory on totalitarianism evaluate the totalitarianism through administrative machinery usage, subjugation of legal order, continuous mobilisation, controlling morality as well as mass support based on legitimacy (Eley, 2016).

Despite the elaboration, totalitarian theories have had their criticism because the lack of applicability to communist countries, Soviet Union and the modern communist system command and administrative society, monist and mobilisation system, intra-group approach, factional conflict has changed the applicability of the totalitarian system to modern non-political systems (Linz, 2015).

Moreover, in response to Schapiro (1972) argued that despite the changes in the modern regime the concept of totalitarian is not outdated. Moreover, it elaborated that even with the decline in terror and totalitarian leadership, the emergence of the dissenters, incipient pressure groups as well as signs of pluralism, the modern day regimes still share distinctive and fundamental features of totalitarian (Kailitz, 2013; Fuentes, 2015).

Kirscht & Dillehay (2015) stated that Authoritarianism describes a situation in which freedom is restricted in favour of authority and this authority is exercised with exception and few restrictions. Authoritarian government is viewed as non-democratic government and largely used in place of notion dictatorship which is not viewed as a traditional form of government.

Moreover, authoritarianism in some cases excludes the totalitarianism that it too extreme and distinctive form of the non-democratic government. The distinction made with authoritarianism and totalitarian is a military dictatorship because it has been evident that totalitarian dictatorship has played a low role in the development of the totalitarian regime (Ottaway, 2014).

According to Linz (1970) in an authoritarian regime, the military has enjoyed a privileged position and this becomes evident especially it is established through a military coup. The conception of post-totalitarian and less-than-totalitarian systems based on the party dictatorship concept.

Vanderhill (2014) discussed that the basic traits of the authoritarianism are that it involve limited political pluralism based on distinctive mentalities rather ideology as well as it has an absence of mobilisation (intensive/extensive) along with leaders have power with limits. The authoritarian state whith high capacity usually have storng party and infrastrucutre power which is taken as synomous with the strenght of the state which is result of th collective elite action (Vaillant, 2016).

The actions of the elite are sufficent to egenarte the ruling party such as case of the african nationas and to aviod political pressure these kept on transfer to new contexts and develop linkage with local communites for resource distrbution and development project which is taken as alternative to strong bureacrtic system. The example of the high caacity authoritarism is china which achieve the stratgic actions based on the tactics rather taking the sudden action which could result in unrest (Kirscht & Dillehay, 2015; Vanderhill, 2016).

According to Ottaway (2013) it is difficult to provide a concise as well as coherent elaboration and evaluation of the authoritarianism in the light of the military and party dictatorship which distinguish totalitarianism and authoritarianism. For example, the dictatorship of the third world party based on the single party in Africa in 1960s which does not classify as totalitarian are viewed as authoritarian as well as a communist regime which are beyond the totalitarian phase.

Linz (2015) suggested that totalitarian regime is usually and appear like authoritarian regime because of the weak impetus ideology, bureaucracies, privatization of the resource mobilization as well as the independence of manager has increased from the party. Therefore, the features and facets of the authoritarianism in comparison and contrast of the totalitarian are outlined by linz (Kollner & Kailitz, 2013).

Svolik (2012) added that the presence of political pluralism which is limited is viewed as a distinctive form of authoritarianism and i.e. it can be applied can moderate or severe based on de facto and consequently can be applied to political parties or groups with significant political influence. The example of political pluralism is the absolutist regime of the regime which has increased influence of the ‘Catholic church’. On the other hand, the dictatorship (Mexican democratic party) in Mexico based on the limited political participation of independent groups and parties (Gerschewski, 2013).

Another distinction between the high-capacity authoritarian and totalitarian is based on the absence of ideology (elaborating and guiding public) but rather the emphasis on the distinctive mentalities which are less rational and more emotional. The authoritarianism highlight less future orientated and ideologies based on utopianism and their such approach are less known to the authoritarian regimes but largely found in the military dictatorship (Vladisavljevic, 2014).

Loyle, et al (2012) argued that distinctive mental capabilities and lack of the future orientation is largely associated with an authoritarian regime. The absence of the political mobilization which is intensive and extensive and i.e. in an authoritarian dictatorship have an exception of the political mobilisation. Nonetheless, the exception of the political mobilization is not found at an earlier stage of the authoritarian regime and it is considerable because of the intensive population participation.

Nevertheless, in the high-capacity authoritarian power of the leader to exercise a power which are ill-defined and relatively predictable. The power exercised by the leader in the authoritarian regime seems absolutist and leader uses their power in a predictable way rather using the arbitrary and discretionary manner (Haas, 2015).

Moreover, Donnell (2016) theory of the bureaucratic and authoritarianism regime in countries such as Brazilian, greek, Argentina  and Spanish military regained during 1970 in which the collaboration of the military coalition along with civilian technocrats to resolve the economic and social problems was part of the high-capacity authoritarian regimes. The goal is to solve economics problems through the shift towards the intensive industrialization and deployment of the strict economic policies to solve economic and political problems.

The structure is of the authoritarian regime is relative bureaucratic (military bureaucracy is significant influence) and evolution of the authoritarian regime and the split of the ruling coalition in order to overcome the possible problems. The criticism of the authoritarian is evident from the features of the authoritarian regime in terms of conception and exemption to generalise the authoritarian regime (Geddes, et al., 2014).

Svolik (2012) highlight that authoritarian system involves more systematic approach which limited power and exception of the resource mobilisation. The impact of the regime with the power of the mobilising exceptions is subtype and define the resource mobilisation which fell short of the intensity totalitarian model which is usually lacking in the typical resource mobilisation regime. Therefore, the higher mobilisation is subtype and exception based on the feature of the authoritarianism which embrace low mobilisation features (Goh, 2015; Linz, 2015).

Kirsch & Dillehay (2015) debated that the traditional authoritarianism approach is associated with the low level of power and modernisation which is evident based on the regime in the Paraguay by ‘Stroessner’s Regime’. Moreover, the regime in the Argentina by Peron represent the medium level of modernisation. The difference between the two Stroessner regime excludes the traditional monarchy whereas Peron regime is consistent with Linz approach to resource mobilisation which is based on the subtype (Kirsch & Dillehay, 2015).

Geyer & Fitzpatrick (2016) added that these leaders are authoritarianism populist regime which influence and attempt politically activate the masses based on tight control, mobilising working classes, segmentation among the popular sectors as well as subdivisions in the economic (lower middle class).

The high capacity bureaucratic authoritarianism is similar to an extent with traditional theories of low-mobilisation subtype, depoliticising because this bureaucratic system attempt to activate popular sector of the public and private economy. Moreover, the Donnell military based bureaucratic system which is established in Argentina and Brazil is an example of bureaucratic authoritarianism which is viewed under the party dictatorship (McInerney & Etten, 2014; Salzborn, et al., 2015).

The authoritarianism based on the bureaucratic regimes defined by goals and origins which highlighted by Donnells represent high capacity modernisation (Bureaucractic authoritarianism). The evident example of the authoritarian regimes are consistent with Totalitarianism perspective of the Arendt and the two authoritarianism regime which is outside the South America is either based on Greek and Spanish military regime which does not have significant political problems (Baehr & Wells, 2014).

Geyer & Fitzpatrick (2015) mentioned that the ideology under the authoritarianism regime is relatively different because of the high capacity as well as modern bureaucratic authoritarianism which emphasis on the economic policies. The two examples of the distinctive authoritarianism are Colombia and Venezuela who have been successful in the deployment of the internationalisation economies.

The high capacity authority affects the resource distribution to ensure status quo and power remained in intact and example of high capacity authoritarianism was Libya and Iraq. The states such as Portugal and Spain were the authoritarian state and authoritarianism system in these countries were based on the organisations, bureaucracy, church as well as an army. These regimes emerged from the democratic republic when compared with Hilter in Germany which develop power based on social, economic and political forces agenda and i.e. took power using force (Feldman, 2014).

The similarities between authoritarianism and totalitarian have in common is that these two are opposite of the democracy and have a leadership role in the government such like dictatorship regime. The authoritarian regime is based on single power holder and the government is monopolised to single political power. The focus on the Authoritarianism on the government rather analysing the society whereas totalitarianism is similar to the authoritarianism which one significant extreme manner (Fuentes, 2015).

Killingsworth (2015) evaluted that the totalitarian does not consider the economic as well as social aspect which are no longer under the control of the government. The totalitarian regime is evident with power and charisma of the individual and in such regime, people are attracted to the leadership and follow the dictator orders.

To summarise, the examples, of the totalitarian regime as evaluated are Stalin (USSR), Hilter (Germany) as well as Mussolini (Italy) who have the strong connection with the entire nation. The ideology sharing set the direction and people to follow the leadership.

The impact of the regime with the power of the mobilising exceptions is subtype and define the resource mobilisation which fell short of the intensity totalitarian model which is usually lacking in the typical resource mobilisation regime (Fuentes, 2015).

On the other hand, Goh (2015) claimed that Authoritarians are relative exercised strong control to impose control with lack of future direction as well as focus on the status quo. The most recent example of the authoritarianism regime is Saddam Hussain (Iraq), Marcos (Philippines) as well as the Adi Amin (Uganda) which appear to power hungry leader rather resolving the economic and political problems in these country.

The rule and control imposed in these countries based on the fear because as evaluated the power in the authoritarianism regime is associated with concentrated and centralised authority.

The totalitarian is viewed as an ideology which make people believe it would save them from political and social problem while authoritarian focused on individualism and status quo. The authoritarianism approach uses the political parties, propagandas as well as organisation to make people follow them but in totalitarian approach leadership is associated with charismatic and power individual or group (Eley, 2015).

Kirsch & Dillehay (2015) elaborted that the distinguished between the authoritarianism and totalitarianism is evident from the practices of the government because these two are linked with traditional dictatorship, some form of the military rule as well as monarchical absolutism which emphasised and focused on the suppression of the political and individual liberties and deployed drastic  goals to eradicating through difference between the society as well as state.

The authoritarian regime tolerates the religious freedom and address range of economic issues. The survival of the totalitarian regime was to extend was relied on the law of force and this is based on the belief which claim practices of the society in the light of politics which will resultantly change the society (Loyle, et al., 2012).

Svolik (2016) discussed that the six ideology of the totalitarianism which are ideology, one party control, terrorism police, media control, government control weapons as well as centralised control of the economy are vital for the totalitarian system to exist and examining these six features in the Communism of the Soviet Union and Nazism of Hitler, the direct economy was absent in the Germany Nazism whereas+ in USSR it is evident.

Nevertheless, there is a lack of clear ideology what is called one party trait of the totalitarian based on the industrialisation in china and Italy in the recent modern times when compared to traditional totalitarian (Baehr & Wells, 2015).


In conclusion, the authoritarian regime has examined through examining and study the correlated using the political pluralism of the party as well as there limited to impose control under such regime. Therefore, authoritarianism present a relative different perspective which is political parties are characterized by specific mentality and does not hold accountable for the actions which are not based on the clear pronounced philosophy and without any political mobilization defines small group with weak power but predictable.

The comparison of the totalitarianism and authoritarianism is different based on the need of the articulated ideology compare to characteristic imposed under specific mentalities which represent that totalitarian is a strict system of thinking whereas authoritarianism is based on the flexible but rather ambiguous interpretation and there is a lack of role clarity and accountability.

Another important comparison between the two highlight that authoritarian and totalitarian regimes are differentiated based on the ability to mobilise resources (intensive or extensive).

Nevertheless, one authoritarianism is established the focus is on maintaining low political involvement as well as reinforcement and prefer to stay in private life. The actions of the elite are sufficent to egenarte the ruling party such as case of the african nationas and to aviod political pressure these kept on transfer to new contexts and develop linkage with local communites for resource distrbution and development project which is taken as alternative to strong bureacrtic system.

Therefore, high capacity authoritarianism is a system which have strict control and leave no freedom but it is best to define the democracy as contrary.


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