Totalitarianism is a political ideology which dictates the supremacy of the state over the individual freedoms of its citizens. A totalitarian state usually requires a defining ideology with which to justify its appropriation of the levers of power: extreme nationalism was the driving force behind Nazism; Marxism in the case of the Soviet Union; and fundamentalist Islam in the case of a theocracy such as Iran. China offers an interesting example of a totalitarian regime that has abandoned the practical ramifications of its ideology (Marxism), whilst retaining the power structures thus derived.
Such states are characterised by the extent of their subversion of the rule of law, with the police and judiciary acting as direct instruments of control and providing no meaningful check or balance upon the ruling elite. Media outlets are subordinated to faithful promotion of the defining ideology and, as the state matures, this tends to be reinforced with coordinated programmes of indoctrination within the education system. Dissent is often brutally repressed (see torture) and extra-judicial killings are common. Other common features include the fostering of a personality cult around the head of state and rampant corruption due to the arbitrary enforcement of laws and statutes.
Arendt was one of the first to suggest that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were two sides of the same coin rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. 
George Orwell said, "The totalitarian states can do great things, but there is one thing they cannot do: they cannot give the factory-worker a rifle and tell him to take it home and keep it in his bedroom. That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage, is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there."
A totalitarian state is a state in which the government rules all aspects, both public and private, of its citizen's lives. Examples of totalitarian states in recent history include the U.S.S.R., North Korea, or Saparmurat Niyazov's regime in Turkmenistan.
- Liberal totalitarianism
- Political spectrum
- Big government Welfare state leads to Nanny state, leads to Police state
- Nazi Fascism and the Modern Totalitarian State - explains difference between left and right wing.
- The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt ISBN 0-15-670153-7
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