An authoritarian personality is one whose attitude is characterized by total submission to one’s own authority and administration of that belief through the oppression of their subordinates. An authoritarian person is strict or oppressive towards their subordinates. Canetti’s crowd and power theory explain how whether schemed or self-deluded, ruling elites had always performed as if by being able to sway the ruled, their subjection was ethically vindicated. This was a shameful way to gain political power.
Those people drawn to the authoritarian personality can be described as the influential ones that use manipulation to rule on their subjects. Human beings like Machiavelli would describe it during his pessimistic moments as insatiable, self-indulgent, unintelligent, unenthusiastic, and always willing to be misled by fake leaders in uncertain causes. The crucial failure of enlightenment lay in the unexciting fact that the energizing power of ideas was in opposite proportion to their truth. This view hence led to the politics of pure manipulation. In such authoritarian rules, the rulers have their way with the crowds having dominated their thinking capacities.
Political powers cannot be relied upon to help the followers maintain sober minds and remain independent in their thinking. The political powers have from the beginning manipulated people to make them believe that the leaders have all the power, while the crowds are left to feel powerless. At this point, people feel that they have lost hope, and they are often desperate for solutions to their problems.
The history of the western political and social theory was bogus as the effort to validate forms of political compliance was to be seen as the cultural ambushing of succession by thriving ruling groups. In order to control the crowds, it was up to the existing influential people to quickly learn how to deal with mass exploitation. Failure to do so, the crowd would bring in leaders of its own with diverse political agendas.
Masses were said to want to be controlled the same way it was believed during the unenlightened age that women were erratic and senseless, and they wanted to be dominated, yet knowing in their hearts that they wanted to surrender to agitators. The leader manipulated the crowd to believe and obey him only while the manipulated subjects brought out the truth that they had no minds of their own. The leader’s mind was the only mind the crowd had.
It is this type of leadership that brings about the emergency of terrorism, as in the case of Nazism where the leader Hitler was known to rule by dictatorship. What followed was the mass killings and shedding of innocent blood. Hitler could be said to have entered the minds of the people and manipulated them towards thinking and believing that the Jews were not worth living. As a response, the Germans were operating on Hitler’s mind and went ahead to kill the Jews in a big way. The followers had now become intolerant to the Jews.
Totalitarianism refers to a political system where the state does not limit its authority and does its best to control each characteristic of public and private existence wherever possible. Arendt’s totalitarianism theory denotes a high level of authoritarian leadership because she highly talks against the authoritarian rule. From her book, she was searching for the intellectual pedigree of the Nazi movement that had displaced her from her native Germany and made a refugee in a world that hated Jews.
Today, the Nazis try to justify the mass persecution and killing of the Jews by writing about the place of Jews in world politics and hugely showing the discoveries they made through the Nazi policy. However, these explanations of anti-semitism do not show Nazis as any better than mass killers and promoters of genocide and hatred towards communities.
Through her book, Arendt tries to demonstrate that anti-Semitism, for example, as a consequence of the waning significance of the Jews. The colonialists saw Jewish assertions to be the chosen ones and a national tribal body as a threat to their own policies of global domination. As a consequence, these views influenced the anti- Semitism and imperialism that were the characteristics of the totalitarian formations.
The other aspect brought forward from her theory is racism, which was brought about by imperialism. In other words, racism and imperialism go hand in hand. According to Arendt, it was imperialism that took Europeans into contact with the blacks, as Europeans alleged that the blacks were culturally mediocre and, hence, the black race was inferior compared to the white race.
Racism, combined with totalitarianism, then led to Europeans losing their morals on the natives as they were not given the rights that the inhabitants of the home countries were afforded through their states’ governments. Instead, the blacks were mistreated and murdered innocently. This led to the establishment of pan movements in Europe.
Arendt argues that in order to have a successful totalitarian movement, the supporters must be selfless, must be skillful at organizing the crowds, as well as its eradication of all irregularities. In order to create a totalitarian rule, the multitude-inspired middle class people must be able to arrange themselves in order to manipulate the politically uninterested masses in order to get their support.
From my understanding from both Arendt totalitarianism and Canetti’s crowd theories there are a number of similarities brought out. For example, the emergence of terrorism through authoritarian rule as is revealed through Nazism by colonial leader Adolf Hitler is very well described to have been created though the crowd and power theory. This is also revealed by Arendt as she asserts that anti-Semitism was created through Nazism and this led to the mass killings of Jews all over the world.
Another similarity is the use of crowds to bring out authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Canetti explains in length how to manipulate a crowd and reinforce authoritarianism by oppressing the people. Arendt, on the other hand, explains that the masses must be manipulated by the leaders, who must possess organizational skills in order to skillfully prevent the people from having a mind of their own.
Following the above aspects, what went on in Greece, despite being the home of the Agora, was evil. This was during the Metaxas authoritarian dictatorship. During his time, Metaxas sought to control the economy, language, politics, type of music to be heard as the regime only favored traditional Greek music. The regime tortured, arrested or exiled over ten thousand communists for political grounds. Aside from that his other evils were the act of forbidding of political parties, prohibition of strikes, and the suppression of the media.
These policies were also copied in other European authoritarian regimes. The regime was, however, never known to commit any political murders. Instead, the nonconformists were forced to go and seek alternative places of living in tiny islands as exiled persons.