Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini: Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century

By Bruce F. Pauley | Go to book overview

1 / THE IDEOLOGICAL
FOUNDATIONS

DEFINITIONS OF TOTALITARIANISM

Surprisingly, there has been a greater agreement among historians about how to define totalitarianism than there has been about whether the definition actually fits any of the states usually described as totalitarian. Advocates of the term stress: (1) the extraordinary powers of the leader; (2) the importance of an exclusionist ideology; (3) the existence of a single mass party; (4) a secret police prepared to use terror to eradicate all domestic opposition; (5) a monopoly of the communications media as well as over the educational systems; (6) a determination to change basic social, artistic, and literary values; and (7) an insistence that the welfare of the state be placed above the welfare of its citizens.

Much less agreement can be found among historians about the importance of purges to totalitarianism, the role of state economic planning, and the degree to which citizens of totalitarian states were able to maintain some sort of private life. Scholars who object to the term altogether note that even in the Soviet Union and Germany, where the governments were the most powerful, many individuals maintained private lives comparatively free of authoritarian controls. In the Soviet Union there were competing factions, interest groups, and bureaucratic networks that could defy government decrees. And, industrial and military leaders in Germany as well as the monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church in Italy all retained considerable autonomy. Proponents of the totalitarian concept, on the other hand, assert that it was an ideal, which, like all ideals, could never be perfectly achieved.

The argument between ideals and practices is an old one, and it has been applied to any number of political, historical, and

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Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini: Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The European History Series *
  • Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini - Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century *
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Preface *
  • Preface - To the First Edition xix
  • 1: The Ideological Foundations 1
  • 2: The Seizure of Power 11
  • 3: Personalities and Policies of the Dictators 48
  • 4: Totalitarian Economies 72
  • 5: Propaganda, Culture, and Education 95
  • 6: Family Values and Health 125
  • 7: Totalitarian Terror 151
  • 8: The Era of Traditional Diplomacy and War, 1933–1941 173
  • 9: Total War, 1941–1945 206
  • 10: The Collapse of Soviet Totalitarianism 242
  • 11: Lessons and Prospects 265
  • Bibliographical Essay 277
  • Index 301
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