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What are three advantages and disadvantages of totalitarianism?

Three advantages of totalitarianism are that it gives governments the ability to act quickly, that it leads to greater unity in society, and that it can deal effectively with serious challenges such as war and economic crises. Three disadvantages of totalitarianism are that it crushes freedom, that it fails to hold political leaders to account, and that it is economically inefficient.

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It's fair to say that the disadvantages of totalitarianism greatly outweigh the advantages. With the horrors of the twentieth century still fresh in the mind, most people are all too aware of the disastrous consequences of totalitarian rule.

Despotic regimes such as the Third Reich and the USSR were responsible for the mass murder of tens of millions of innocent people, both at home and abroad. If anything, the People's Republic of China under Chairman Mao was even worse.

That being the case, if we're going to examine the supposed advantages of totalitarianism, we need to look at the theoretical justifications that have been offered in its support rather than attempt to defend the indefensible.

First of all, totalitarianism was hailed by its ideologues as the system best able to get things done and get them done quickly. Instead of the endless compromises and delays of democracy, totalitarianism offered speedy, decisive decisions on the most pressing of matters.

This leads us on to the second theoretical advantage of totalitarianism: its purported superiority in dealing with serious challenges such as war and economic crisis. As totalitarian regimes have no opposition, so the theory goes, they can act more decisively than a government in a democracy. This means that they can take bold, radical steps to deal with such challenges, instead of concerning themselves with public opinion or what political opponents might think.

Finally, totalitarianism is said by its few advocates to generate greater unity in society. Instead of society being fractured along various lines such as wealth and class, it can be seen as an organic unity whose every component is working towards a common goal.

The disadvantages of totalitarianism are not difficult to spot. First and foremost, there is the complete annihilation of freedom. Under totalitarian regimes, there is no freedom of thought, freedom of assembly, or freedom to voice one's own opinions. Indeed, there are no freedoms at all (or rights, come to that). In a totalitarian society, the state is everything, and the people must do as they're told.

As political leaders in a totalitarian system are not subject to removal or held to account in any way, they quickly become separated from the people. Though totalitarian rulers often use populist rhetoric, in actual fact there's a huge gap between themselves and the people they claim to represent.

Among other things, this fosters a climate of endemic corruption, in which government functionaries feel able to line their pockets at the people's expense, safe in the knowledge that they do not have to account to the people for their actions.

Totalitarianism can also be criticized on the grounds that is it economically inefficient. As economic, as well as political, power is concentrated at the center, this means that the state has to make the most important strategic decisions regarding the economy.

Opponents argue, however, that this makes for inefficiency on a massive scale, as the totalitarian state is unable to respond effectively to changes in the price mechanism,...

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Totalitarianism is a highly centralized form of dictatorship in which the government tries to control every aspect of a person's life, down to his or her thoughts; even people's private thinking must conform completely to the ruling ideology. The perceived need for revolutionary change in society from top to bottom is used as a rationale for this kind of control. For example, the Soviet Union was fearful that bourgeois ideas would subvert the revolution, so they felt a need to root out and eradicate any thoughts that brought individuals into conflict with the state. Likewise, the Nazis hoped to create a new, better "man"; he was to be hard, not decadent, and completely at peace with the aims of the government.

Three advantages of this form of government are the ability to implement rapid change, the ability to force radical change, and group solidarity. There is no doubt that both Stalin and Hitler, for example, rapidly remade their societies. With no meaningful opposition, Stalin could in a few years build huge factories and force collectivization of farmland, while Hitler could in a short time rebuild the German army and construct a massive highway system. The Soviets could impose radical equalitarianism and atheism on what had been a hierarchical and religious society, while the Nazis subordinated women, destroyed Jewish culture, and very quickly imposed a backward, puritanical social order to replace Weimar freedom and "decadence." Both governments could appeal to individual sacrifice in service of a larger cause, fostering solidarity.

Three downsides include loss of freedom, loss of creativity, and the need for a huge police, prison, and spy apparatus. Humans not allowed to think for themselves or pursue their own interests tend to become unhappy and secretly undermine the state. Further, in a society that forces complete conformity, creativity must be suppressed as a threat, which dampens innovation. Finally, a society that wants to control people's every thought needs to expend massive resources (which could be used more productively) on spying on its citizens and savagely punishing deviation. 

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To understand the advantages and disadvantages of totalitarianism, one must first understand what totalitarianism is. Totalitarianism is complete rule where individuals do not have freedoms, and laws and policies are determined by one or a group of individuals who are in charge.

Some advantages of this system do exist. Firstly, changes to government can be in acted quickly and swiftly. This is because the person or group in power can make any change the deem necessary instantaneously. Secondly, the process of making laws is very easy. Again, the ruler or ruling group simply decides what is law, and it becomes so without political debate or democratic vote. Thirdly, because a small group is in power, their is also less room for corruption in the government. With only one central ruler, or group of rulers, it is much more difficult for corruption to occur.

Despite these advantages, a number of disadvantages exist as well. One disadvantage is that only one person or group is in power. This means that that person or group's ideas on law and government must be accepted without question. This also leads to another disadvantage, people not having political freedoms. Lack of political freedoms abolishes the say of the people. This means that if the ruler does not have the best interest of the people in mind they have no ability in enacting changes in how they are governed and policed. A third, and possibly the largest disadvantage, is that no individual freedoms exist. Because the people in a totalitarian government are under complete control of their ruler, they may lose any freedoms, such as the freedom of speech, that they may have had previously.

Hope this helps!  

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