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As we watch how intolerance, repression of diversity and totalitarianism is growing yet again in the West, the German philosopher Hannah Arendt is worth revisiting. She is considered one of the most influential political theorists of the 20th century and spent many years examining how it was possible for a modern, democratic state such as pre-World War II Germany to turn into a totalitarian state and a brutal regime that killed millions of its own population.
In “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Arendt analyzed the 20th century growth of totalitarianism that led to the silencing of an entire population out of fear of their own ruling elites. And it was precisely in Marxist-infused nations, such as the left-wing National Socialist (NAZI) system under Hitler and Communism under Stalin that the rigid requirement of consensus, ethnically, socially and religiously, took place.
The socialist groupthink, strict requirement of consensus, repression of free speech, zero tolerance for diversity of opinion, harsh consequences for those who did not conform to the standards of the government, a unison media narrative describing what to think and feel in every subject – this combined with strict ruling elites that controlled the economy made totalitarianism possible.
With it came the concentration camps and the Gulag, which Nobel Prize laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn pointed out is an inevitable consequence of communism – one of the fruits of Marxism: the need to physically get rid of those who oppose the system since these are considered the obstacle to total unity and “the communist paradise.”
Solzhenitsyn came to understand that Marxism and its offspring communism were wrong in asserting that the fight for justice was that between the proletariat – the working class – and the capitalist class. He explains in “The Gulag Archipelago”: “Gradually, it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties – but right through every human heart – and then through all human hearts. … And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an un-uprooted small corner of evil.”
Centerfold in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ 1848 work, “The Communist Manifesto,” is the idea that the only solution to injustice between the classes is bloody revolution and terror. Only in this way, the working class would take power, expropriate funds and confiscate private property from the former ruling class and spend them in a new, socialist system. “There is only one way to shorten and ease the convulsions of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new – revolutionary terror,” Marx argued. Yet Marx, rather, introduced a system where a Marxist government class would replace the existing elites, controlling the communist working class even more than before. The repression seen among the horrifyingly intolerant communist state lords, where millions were sent to concentration camps and millions killed by their own leaders, defined totalitarian terror in the 20th century.
It is socialism – also a fruit of Marxism – that over time alters the population from being independent thinkers with individual rights protected by a conservative constitution to becoming subordinate, indoctrinated, groupthink communities full of fear of the government.
The change within the population goes from actively participating in local governments, speaking their minds, always looking for the abuse of power and addressing these topics in the media, to becoming a silent group in which “everyone publicly has the same opinion,” completely in line with one-sided media propaganda that only tells the government narrative. In such a system, the people becomes the tyranny of the mob, effectively turning each other over to the Gestapo in a system of active informants reporting and surveilling one another, in accordance with the will of the media-owning elites.
Many who escaped the Soviet Union later told their stories. Yuri Mashkov was one of them, a Soviet dissident who was exiled to the United States in the 1970s. He explained at a conference in New Jersey in 1978 that his life, during which he had spent many years in the Soviet concentration camps, came to change once he realized the reality behind the Soviet propaganda, that the system was completely repressive without justice or any kind of freedom. His training had taught him that communism was an idealistic teaching that brought happiness and peace. Mashkov describes the horror when realizing that in reality, communism was the very opposite. He discovered that Marxism in essence was a complete teaching of totalitarianism, of an absolute slavery, of the state desire for full control over its citizens.
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