Third Exam: Authoritarian and Totalitarian Systems
The main purpose of the paper is to study and analyze the issues of authoritarian and totalitarian systems through the observation of the example of ancient Greece and the way the issues are represented in the works of such theorists, as Arendt, Freud, and Sun Tzu, as a representative of Chinese theorists.
It can be seen that Thucydides’ observation in the Book VIII of Peloponnesian War of the inside totalitarian system within the Greek state during this period had all the typical features of authoritarian regime, and the general image created by the historian seems to be extremely similar to the issues that have been previously discussed and researched. The characterization of Greek people within the period demonstrated the formation of the authoritarian personality. As it is known, the main features of authoritarian personality are the specific way of thinking or an attitude that requires absolute obedience to the particular authority. The creation of such state of mind and the constant fear within the social masses thought the oppression of the individuals makes it possible to create a crowd that is under control of one’s authority. This type of control system over the large number of people formed a new understanding of the theory of crowd and is a serious form of terror. Therefore, the description of terror perfectly fits this authoritarian system that has found its origins in Greece. The great power of the authority that was constantly felt within the society and the serious tension over the individuals was the bright sign of terror. People were under the serious oppression and the demonstrative threats of the representatives of the alternative political views destroyed all signs of the opposition. There was no freedom of thought, as well as no social and economic freedom. Moreover, The Assembly and the Council consisted only of the supporters of the ruling party; therefore, the political freedom was also absent within the state (Borch, 2012).
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One of the best works considering the area of totalitarianism and its emergence and development, is The Origins of Totalitarianism written by Hannah Arendt. And here we can see the series of similarities between the two cases. Within the book, Arendt talks about the formation of Nazism and Stalinism, the two major totalitarian movements of the 20th century. The processes described in the work have series of similarities with the researched case, as the formation of totalitarian regimes in Greece and in Western and Eastern Europe had many features that are typical for both systems. As Arendt mentioned in her book, the formation of the specific movements that preferred to call themselves parties, tried to take in their hands all mechanisms of government control (Steinberger, 1990). The same process took place in the Greek state, where all the key state organs were under the complete control of the ruling party. The transformation of classes into masses that was one of the main issues in the final part of the Arendt’s’ work can also be seen in the Thucydides’ description, where people were all under the same control without any special privileges or any support. Anyone could have been a traitor; anyone could be threatened by the government authorities. No one had real voice or even elementary rights and freedoms; therefore, the social classes were destroyed, and the society was transformed in the social masses. The most powerful reason that can be seen in this case is the definition Arendt gave to the totalitarian regimes in their differences from the autocratic ones: while autocratic regimes aim only to gain absolute political power and to diminish the opposition, totalitarian regimes try to gain control over every aspect of people’s life, as a prelude to the global domination. Greek society was getting under the complete control, as not only political activists were under the serious potential risk, but all civil population within the state could get under the serious restrictions, because of the series of issues that were regarded as the ones that oppose the official course of the government. The system of total fear and oppression was a typical feature of the evil state that made Greece extremely close to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.
The issue can also be regarded with the attention to the Freud’s hope for the soft voice, as this concept seems to be quite suitable for this case (Merlino, 2008). It is know that Freud hoped that the voice of reason, a soft voice, can be heard by the society. The soft voice of intellect, according to the theorist, does not rest, until it has gained a hearing. Therefore, the voice of the intellect will always sound, even if it needs some time, as it is impossible for the reasonable and fair position to be unheard. Therefore, the Greek society came out of the totalitarian system, as it was said in the Freud’s works. This understanding of the final truth that inevitably comes out is the demonstration of the destroying features that are always inside the authoritarian regime. Within the area, Arendt provided her theory of judgment with the new approach to the observation of actions of the individuals, and the inner voice that tells the individuals what is right and what is wrong (Steinberger, 1990). Therefore, the judgment comes from the inside of the person and that is how the truth emerges in the minds of people. This process occurs despite the social or political laws and the voices of the outside. It means that there is still the area that is not under the control of the totalitarian regime and this is the way the real truth comes out. Here, it is import to mention the words of the Chinese theorist, Sun Tzu, as he also underlined the importance of the inside freedom. As he had mentioned, the one does not have to be afraid and to feel despair, even these feelings are dictated by the social environment, conditions, or other representatives of the society.