The Ways of Dictatorship or Totalitarianism:
Dictatorship makes its sheer will the sole justification of its authority. Its own being is the only answer it permits. It ignores community. It has no abiding rules, no fundamental laws. Its own law is always that of the hour.
There is no law or basis of law beneath it. No law has any higher status than his mere decree. There is no social ground on which his pronouncement of justice rests. Dictatorship comes into being when the social order is shaken or broken, in the time of crisis when men forsake their traditions.
It comes in the time of desperate conflict when men are willing to sacrifice if only the strong man restores to them assurance and order. In such times they abandon the accepted standards of legality. The anti-thesis between dictatorship and legality has been recognised since the days of the Greek city-states.
The coming of dictatorship is usually abrupt. It represents a sharp break from tradition. A crisis occurs. The old legality cannot be restored and the people are unready for the alternative of democracy. Because, it requires a process of maturation. The contentions between the classes or between ethnic, religious or other groups may be too irreconcilable for orderly settlement. Such a situation sows the seeds of dictatorship.
During one crisis in England, when a severe break with the tradition occurred, there appeared its only dictator, Oliver Cromwell. In France, during the historic Revolution there came the dictatorship of Robespiere and soon after the Revolution, of Napoleon Bonaparte. Nepoleon, of course, constitutionalised his dictatorial power.
Every dictatorship maintains power by unconstitutional means. It elevates the executive above the legislative, it makes its decree, its law; it insists on political orthodoxy, it suppresses unfavourable opinions. It exalts the state. It builds its own organisations which markedly differ from those of the community associations. It can invent no constitutional device for succession to dictatorial power.
Types of Dictatorship:
Modern dictatorship can be classified into three main types: (i) The Fascist and the Nazi Dictatorship, e.g., Italy and Germany—before World War II, (ii) Communist Dictatorship e.g., Soviet Russia and China, and (iii) Military Dictatorship, e.g., Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq. Between 1919-1939 dictatorship rose in Italy, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Soviet Russia and other countries. After the end of World War II, it rose in China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Burma, Sudan, Egypt, Iraq and other countries.
Essential Features of Modern Dictatorship or Totalitarianism:
(1) Totalitarian Power:
In a totalitarian system the government assumes complete power and covers all aspects of the individual’s life. The state is glorified. Mussolini of Italy said: “All within the state, none outside the state, and none against the state”.
(2) One Man Rule:
One man or a minority group assumes supreme authority. This person or group is not responsible “to the people over whom control is exercised”.
(3) One Party Rule:
The party to which the dictator belongs exercises ruthless control over the state. Opposition is simply crushed. In Russia, for example, there is only one party-The Communist Party.
(4) No Civil, Political and Economic Liberty:
The totalitarian denies individual liberty; it abridges or abrogates fundamental rights. Virtually, people become the slaves of the state. Individual becomes the means and the state, the end.
(5) Based on Fear and Force:
Since the dictator is always doubtful about his position, he adopts violent and coercive methods to suppress opposition. He deals with the opposition with an iron hand.
(6) Militant Nationalism:
The totalitarianism often stands for the purity of race, language, literature and culture. It often breeds militant or aggressive nationalism.
(7) Absence of Free and Independent Press:
In a totalitarian system free expression of public opinion is crushed. It controls in countless ways the mass media of propaganda, including the radio and the Press. The Press cannot be free, frank, and independent.
(8) No Distinction between the State and Government:
In a totalitarian system the state and government are not distinguished. The dictator himself represents both. He is all in all, and the state is omnipresent and omnipotent. The state is deified. An individual must be ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of the state. Hitler said the functions of the citizens were duty, discipline and sacrifice.
(9) Hostile to Internationalism:
Dictators are opposed to internationalism. They follow the policy of personal glorification.