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Totalitarianism is a political system that has no checks and balances on its authority. By definition the governing power has absolute control, whether it is by the “state or a governing branch of a highly centralized institution.”[i] In addition to complete control it also tries to control all aspects of public and private life, which can wreak havoc on its citizens.[ii] Totalitarianism is generally viewed as an “extreme version of authoritarianism, which will be addressed next.”[iii] A good book on Totalitarianism was written by Hannah Arendt.[iv]
That being said, authoritarianism is very similar to totalitarianism, but authoritarianism generally dominates the private sector less intrusively.[vi] Technically, authoritarianism is any political system that places full power with a single ruler or a small group and requires total submission to the authorities in place.[vii] Enotes has an excellent background and history of authoritarianism that can be accessed here.
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