1101-391 Language and Identity.

Michael Bunsen

Dr. Carrie Chall

ENG 1101

31 October 2018

What is Totalitarianism and where does the word come from? How this word impacted my family’s life?

In today’s world many people forget or don’t know what the word totalitarianism means and how it created lots of conflict around the world. People who support or believe in totalitarianism are called “totalitarian.” Some people (including my family) believe that this word is “evil” because this was one of the causes why World War 2 started, and it also created lots of conflicts around the world to this day. People should know what totalitarianism means because this word impacted the world, it can change someone’s life forever, and it changes policies in countries that are under a totalitarian government.

Totalitarianism means; “a form of government that attempts to assert total control over the lives of its citizens. It is characterized by strong central ruler that attempts to control and direct all aspects of individual life. It does not permit individual freedom.” (“Totalitarianism” Britannica.com). In other words, totalitarianism is a strong form of government that is being ruled by a powerful ruler/dictator or a group of individuals where the ruler has total control over the lives of its citizens (meaning that it tells their citizen what to do all the time), the army, and the government. This shows why totalitarianism is often described by some people as an “evil” word because the citizens (the people) don’t have freedom, meaning that they are not able to do what they want to do, instead they have to do what their powerful ruler orders them to do. Which means that the ruler has absolute control over the people and the government.

The origin of the word “Totalitarian” comes from Italy as they call it “totalitario” which comes from “totalita” and totalità means totality; “Italian totalitario, from totalità totality” (“Totalitarian” merriam-webster.com). The term totalitarian was often used by the powerful Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in the early 1920s in order to describe the new fascist state during his powerful reign in Italy (1925-1945). The word is a mix of totalit(y) and arian, which also means totality.

My family are also related to totalitarianism because they immigrated to the United States from Germany during Adolf Hitler’s reign (1889-1945). Around March 1933, the Nazis came to power in Germany (lead by Hitler), and so Germany was now called “Nazi Germany.” During this time, Hitler was a totalitarian and he took control over Germany along with the Nazi party. During his reign, World War 2 started, and Germany’s economy went downhill which lead to people starving to death, people declaring themselves bankrupt because there were no jobs, all because of this bloody war. Germany was also losing a lot of soldiers and so Hitler ordered every man and veterans to go to war and fight for their country, which lead to my great grandfather to go to war. This led to my great grandfather’s death, and so when the United States decided to enter World War 2, my family decided to leave everything behind (their houses and everything) to start a new life in New York. My family faced many obstacles when they arrived in New York, they faced new challenges such as having to learn a brand-new language, had to start all over again from zero, and they also had to meet new people from different places and countries, since in New York there are different kinds of people with different nationalities. Therefore, my family also relates to totalitarianism because they had to leave their own country cause of economy and war situations, since Adolf Hitler had complete control over the government and ordered almost everyone to go to war, instead of trying to fix the country’s economic problems. This shows how people can also suffer and deal with lots of conflicts when their country is under totalitarianism rule.

Today, there are still some countries that are under a totalitarian regime (rule) such as North Korea, China, Iraq, Yemen, Cuba, and many more countries. In North Korea (leader is Kim Jong-Un), external human rights have reported multiple times that people are being abused, and also treated against their human rights; “External human rights organizations repeatedly report systematic human rights abuses within the country, including torture, slave labor, infanticide and public exclusion” (Jensen, Lisa “Examples of Totalitarian Governments”). This is a great example of how people in today’s date are not granted their human rights and are treated like slaves because they must say what the leader tells them to do.

Some of the pros (good things) of having a totalitarian government is; “Faster process for the system, law making process is simpler, and less room for corruption” (“Characteristics of Totalitarian). This means that with totalitarianism there will be less corruption because a powerful ruler has complete control over the government and its citizens, and also making laws will be simpler because the ruler will make up the laws instead of different kinds of people arguing over what laws are good and bad for the country. The cons (bad things) of totalitarianism is; “Only one person or a small group is in power, people do not have political freedom, and possibly the largest disadvantage is that no individual freedoms exist” (“Advantages and disadvantages of Totalitarianism”). This means that in totalitarianism there is no political freedom because the ruler makes every law and the citizens are forced to agree with the rules the ruler believes in, and the biggest disadvantage is that the people are forced to do what the ruler says and are not allowed to complain, which means there will be no individual freedom.

Therefore, totalitarianism is a form of government where a leader (ruler) or a small group of people have complete control over the country, the people, and the government. The word is a mix of totalit(y) and arian, which shows that it means totality. Because of this word my family had to flee Germany, and because of this they faced many obstacles and problems such as learning a new language, meet new people from different countries, and by having to start all over again because they had nothing left. Many people argue that that totalitarianism is a good form of government because there are less chances of corruption since there is only a particular leader for the country, but the some of the bad things are they is no individual freedom, and sometimes there are no human rights to protect its citizens. For my family, having a totalitarian government is a horrible thing because of the obstacles and problems they had faced in the past.


Works Cited

“Totalitarianism.” Encyclopedia Britannica, October 25, 2018

“What Are Three Advantages and Disadvantages of Totalitarianism.” Enotes.com
Jensen, Lisa. “What are some examples of places under Totalitarian Governments.” The Classroom.com, September 27, 2018.
“Totalitarian.” Merriam-Webster, no date published.
“Characteristics of Totalitarian/Advantages and Disadvantages.” Governmentvs.com, no date published.

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