|WHY IS TOTALITARIANISM MAKING A COME-BACK?|
In order to answer this question, we must, to begin with, investigate the meaning of totalitarianism and then give an account of the conditions preceding its re-appearance (if, of course, it can be said to have previously disappeared). As to the meaning of totalitarianism, we should note that this should refer as much as possible to inner states of man, because if it is treated only as external phenomena, we shall at regular intervals be faced with the same problem in another or the same form.
Totalitarianism is an inner state which can take many forms, even though it is itself also a form. But this form is a form from a transcendental point of view and not from the point of view of everyday human life, in which it can be a hidden, unadmitted or undetected, psychological factor.
Human history, both as a public expression of mankind in its entirety and as individual daily life, is so full of totalitarianism that the evidence of it is not easily traceable, even by those in power themselves. When something is diffused, very widespread, it isn't perceptible, because it has now become a part of our expression as if it were our nature, and from one point of view it is a part of this nature, though not an eternal or unchanging part, as the realists in theory or practice would have us believe. For example, the feeling of nations that their own troubles are worse than the troubles of all the other nations, or that their cultural characteristics and talents are better than those of the rest of the nations constitutes totalitarianism. This is so firmly established among the nations that it is not perceived as totalitarianism, and no one can say otherwise and get a hearing, and it doesn't cross their minds that it might not be so.
With the individual things are even worse, and more difficult, because although the features of totalitarianism are inherent in individuals in the clearest way, because they do not seem to have world-wide influence, they are not perceived as totalitarianism, but as something else, perhaps negative and perhaps not, but in no circumstances as totalitarianism and as a basis for the support of totalitarianism on a world scale. And when individuals are subject to the domination of rulers, where totalitarianism is much more obvious, the individual totalitarianism of everyday life is not apparent. This is the reason why there is this alternation of roles in which victims are turned into oppressors and establish their own totalitarianism after the satisfaction of their demands, which, to begin with, look like a demand for freedom and in the end become an entrenchment of power over others. Those who exercise power may be individuals or groups of individuals, which may in their turn be made up of weak or strong individuals, or both (this is a matter of indifference). The only thing that will change in this case is individual power.
However, the absence of individual power is not an elimination of totalitarianism, since totalitarianism connotes a tendency towards power, and not power itself - things which, though related, differ from one another. This is the sole reason why diffuse totalitarianism is not perceived as such - because, that is, it usually lacks the strength to realise itself. It may, however, become a vehicle of power for the totalitarianism of the strong, where the strong is/are an individual or individuals or a large number of weak persons who because of their numbers become strong. This is why we must insist that from our viewpoint totality should not be understood as an assemblage of many people, but as a concept, a consciousness, even if its external expression coincides with some gathering, great or small. And if the slightest tendency towards exclusion penetrates the consciousness, even if it concerns the self, then also totality will have been rejected. But this does not mean that one must from the very start have conceived of all the possible forms of its exclusion, because that is impossible, and in this way, because of the existing relative immaturity, it would give rise to another form of totalitarianism, perhaps worse than the preceding ones.
With such deep psychological foundations of totalitarianism, it is not to be wondered at that it is making a come-back in the world-wide field of politics in the form of strategic interests and security. For example, money is a vehicle of power and totalitarianism, but this desire for money in the life of the individual is totalitarian, and in the end, this life in the end is sacrificed, in reality, for its acquisition. This is the foundation on which world-wide economic and political totalitarianism rests. The fact that we cannot connect the individual with the world-wide is a serious historical gap.
In reality, totalitarianism has always been present, but during the course of previous post-War decades its results were not so marked because of the sufficiency of goods, so man was able to ignore it. But if humanity is unable to strike at the root of totalitarianism, it is not going to be able truly to get rid of it. And it would, of course, be better to strike at it regardless of the ease or otherwise of its living conditions. But this has not happened, and now it is called upon to deal with the problem in more intractable conditions.
This ignoring of the course followed by totalitarianism between the individual and the totality occurs because we are not able to apprehend the totality nor, consequently, the synergies between it and individuality. We cannot even perceive mankind as a single whole and not as a collection of individuals. And, naturally, a fortiori, we cannot apprehend the totality of the world as a whole, but only as an object for use. But the exhaustion of this 'object', or, in other words, the inadequacy of natural resources, renders totalitarianism now apparent and painful, so that now more than ever we need Justice, because the need for justice, according to Aristotle, makes its appearance when there is a lack of resources.
Ioanna Moutsopoulou, Lawyer,
Member of the Secretariat of Solon NGO