Tyranny is the type of government led by a person who controls the lifestyle of each individual. In such states, each citizen is forced to be a part of the strict political system where only the political elite has the power and rights to make decisions. The current paper will discuss how Joseph Stalin implemented totalitarian principles in the government of the USSR.
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Ideal citizens do not have a personality in a totalitarian state. They obey any rules, and the charismatic leader fully determines and inspires them. The citizens of a totalitarian country perceive the leading force as a sacred power that can kill them if they are not docile enough. Therefore, ideal citizens exalt and fear the leader at the same time, conform to the rules, and entirely dependent on the authority of the state.
The October revolution started in Russia in 1917 completely established communist rule led by Vladimir Lenin. After that, Joseph Stalin took over the position of the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Although de jure the communist ideology implied that collective leadership ruled the state, Stalin concentrated the power into his hands. The Communist party strictly controlled all aspects of people’s life. Eventually, Stalin’s totalitarian interpretation of the communist ideology was called Stalinism (Gill & Markwick, 2019). Thus, Stalin’s government in the USSR is an example of a totalitarian country.
Violence was a substantial feature of the regime. A significant part of Stalin’s policy is known as “The Great Terror.” During these actions, people who disagreed with the Soviet ideology were executed, sent to harsh Siberia for forced labor, or kidnapped. The prisoners were thrown in unsanitary conditions with infections and were left to die. Moreover, the government praised reporting on antisoviet behavior and statements. Consequently, millions of people were unjustly accused, and all the citizens lived in constant fear and mistrust. Therefore, Stalin led a highly strict punitive policy where violence was the main force.
People’s thinking and feelings were rigorously controlled by ideological propaganda. The party determined education, science, and culture, allowing only ideology-driven studies, theories, lessons, and art. There were several main concepts in the propagandist ideas, such as the New Soviet Person – a conscientious, healthy, productive, and obedient man who sets an example for the citizens. All the concepts repetitively appeared in posters, newspapers, school classes, and theaters to inhibit any other ideas in the people’s minds.
Building the concepts on the true Soviet man, and the Stalin personality cult, the policy also highlighted some people as extremely antisoviet and, therefore, evil. For instance, Lev Trotsky, who was Stalin’s rival when they were fighting for power, was presented as such a corrupt person whom the soviet society should reject and dislike. Thus, the USSR created the characters to contrast them with the right and genuine personalities of Soviet society.
A totalitarian regime is firm and severe, yet there can be some ways to fight it. First, it is crucial to develop the process of political socialization, teaching people different governmental approaches. Second, citizens can unite and stop obeying the rules, showing their disagreement and will. Moreover, society can create a culture ignoring ideology and opposing propaganda. Finally, voter apathy is another way of actively challenging the system and the regime because the lack of activity means failure for the state. However, voter apathy is not likely to affect the political situation significantly because the purpose of elections in such states is an illusion. Therefore, the totalitarian regime prevents possibilities for opposition by threatening its citizens.
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To conclude, the USSR led by Joseph Stalin is a striking illustration of a totalitarian country. Stalinism was a violent, cruel, and paranoid policy that resulted in the death of many innocent people. Political socialization, civil disobedience, propaganda opposition can be the ways for fighting against such a policy. Overall, Stalin’s regime is a dramatic example of a totalitarian policy, and there are probably many aspects of it to investigate in the future.
Gill, G., & Markwick, R. D. (2019). Introduction: Stalinism as State Building. Europe-Asia Studies, 71(6), 883–891. Web.