For the majority of the 20th century, the Soviet Union in its various iterations of leadership was considered the epitome of a totalitarian state. The political system consisted of one political Communist party that retained total control of all policy and leadership, led by an authoritarian figure that commonly maintained a cult of personality. The Soviet Union structured a centralized form of government and economy with all forms of market and production overseen. The Communist party upkept its control through the use of strict government regulation in combination with an unchecked use of police force and surveillance that imprisoned individuals for violation of Communist laws or political dissidence. All aspects of society, economics, and media were overseen and maintained by the government ranging from schools and hospitals to factories. Media was a heavily utilized propaganda tool (Shlapentokh, 2015).
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Over decades, the Soviet Union formed an ideology in its society about the characteristics and roles of an ideal citizen, based on Communist values. It was a strong, educated, and healthy individual that strongly believed in the socialist revolution. Although self-development was encouraged, the behavior of the individual was expected to be dedicated to their country, workplace, and family, centered around the Communist beliefs. Selflessness was encouraged for the good of society and state. While political activity was encouraged, it was only within the contexts of the party and official ideology and any defiance was heavily criticized by majority of other citizens themselves. Elections were held to local and national councils and legislature with universal suffrage. However, only Communist Party candidates were admitted (Kara-Murza, 2019). Voter apathy existed to an extent with turnout usually being average, but due to significant social indoctrination, there was normally support and high approval ratings of leadership.
Kara-Murza, V. (2019). The Soviet Union had a competitive election 30 years ago. Russians are still fighting for one. The Washington Post. Web.
Rauhala, E. (2014). North Korea elections: A sham worth studying. Time. Web.
Shlapentokh, V. (2012). A normal totalitarian society. New York, NY: Routledge.