The Evolution of Totalitarianism - 25 November 1969

“From time to time in history small groups with fixed ideas have allied themselves together sufficiently to penetrate the political, economic and social life of the nation and taking advantage of some general disaster have emerged suddenly as the force triumphant.
“Their real aims remained disguised until the very last moment and the population abruptly finds itself oppressed by special interest men holding all key posts and all forces.”

otalitarianism is defined as “of or relating to a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation, especially by coercive measures (as censorship and terrorism).”

     The world has seen it in the raw ruthlessness of many despots of the past and Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia in modern times.

     As totalitarianism is easily the most detested form of government and the most difficult to cast off, some thought should be given to how a totalitarianism evolves.

     Basically the political life of a nation is divided into two types of groups.

     First there is the GENERAL INTEREST GROUP. This is a broad, open group such as a political party or an association of teachers or a church. What distinguishes them as a GENERAL interest group is the fact that they stand for what they say they stand for and do what they say they do. They have beliefs, they scuffle about, but they are in the open and their influence is direct and visible.

     Then there is another type of group. It can be called a SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP. It could also be called a “hidden” interest group. It is characterized by having some fixed idea but advertising something else. They are composed of zealots who work to the exclusion of all other interest as well as the exclusion of the well-being of others who are not “aligned” with the fixed idea of that group.

     These “special interest groups” are commonly distrusted since they fail to announce their actual intention and sell their fixed idea behind a facade of often clever steps and propaganda.

     The citizen who suddenly learns that Senator Belch was really a “front” for the oil interests or that Minister Bray was really trying to increase armament company profits is, as a good and unsuspicious citizen, usually dismayed when “all is revealed.”

     Fixed ideas are usually buried in the mind and a person, as often as not, is unaware of what underlies his revulsions and prejudices. Similarly in the broad masses of the society a “special interest group” is obscured from view—one only sees its ploys and falsified “information” and is left to believe them, reject them or neglect them.

     A suspicion that government is more and more guided by special interest groups and less and less determined by general interest groups such as political parties or advertised social intent has become a practical part of citizenship in modern times. When nations do not seem to be guided by good sense, the citizen begins to suspect “special interests” must underlie government policy. He is often so right that cynicism has displaced patriotism in most Western nations and we read that the day of idealism is dead.

     As a matter of fact, only about 8 percent of the population is estimated to be “aligned” with special interest groups of one sort or another even in moments of national stress. Ninety-two percent of the population even in a country undergoing insurgency or revolt are not “aligned” at all. Other social and political estimates show even less “alignment.”

     Thus, whether one is talking about a hidden or covert interest in specialized publics or oil or railroads, special interest groups form a very small minority of the population in peace or war. The vast majority of the people are caught up in the clever statements, maneuvers and “unavoidable decisions” of a very tiny number of people.

The Evolution of Totalitarianism continued...

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