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* A revolutionary ideology that announces the destruction of the old order
- corrupt and compromised - and the birth of a radically new, purified and
muscular age. Anti-liberal, anti-conservative, and anti-pluralist,
totalitarian ideology creates myths, catechisms, cults, festivities and
rituals designed to commemorate the Destiny of the elect.
* A cellular Party structure which, particularly before the conquest of
state power, devolves authority to local militants. As it gains recruits and
fellow believers, the Party takes on a mass character with a charismatic
leader at its head claiming infallibility, and demanding the unconditional
personal devotion of the people.
* A regime in which offices are deliberately duplicated and personnel are
continually shuffled, so as to ensure chronic collegial rivalry and dependence
on the one true leader. To the extent that legal instruments function at all,
they do so as a legitimizing sham rather than a real brake on the use of
executive power. Indeed, the very notion of the executive is redundant since
it presupposes a separation of powers absent in a totalitarian regime.
* Economic-bureaucratic collectivism (capitalist or state socialist)
* Monopolistic control of the mass media, professional organizations and
public art, and with it the formulation of a cliché-ridden language that
discourages creative thought.
* A culture of militarism in which violence and danger (of the trenches,
the street fight etc.) are ritually celebrated in Party uniforms, metaphors
(storm troopers, labor brigades) and modes of address (comrade). Youth
are a special audience for such a culture, but are expected to admire and
imitate the old fighters of the revolution.
* The pursuit and elimination not simply of active oppositionists but, and
more distinctively, objective enemies or enemies of the people; that is,
categories of people deemed guilty of wickedness in virtue of some ascribed
quality such as race or descent. Crimes against the state need not have
actually been committed by the person accused of them. Hence the hereditary
principle in North Korea where punishment is extended to three generations
(the original criminals, their children and grandchildren). Under
totalitarianism, it is what people are, more than what they do that marks them
* Continual mobilization of the whole population through war, ceaseless
campaigns, struggles or purges. The will of the leader and the people as a
whole must constantly be exercised to produce miracles, combat backsliding,
and accelerate the direction of the state towards its final victory.
* The use of terror to isolate, intimidate and regiment all whom the
regime deems menacing. Charged with this task are the secret police rather
than the army that typically possesses significantly fewer powers, and less
status, than it does under a non-totalitarian dictatorship or authoritarian