TOTALITARIANISM QUOTES

quotations about totalitarianism

Totalitarianism quote

Totalitarianism is never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism

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The right of dissent, or if you prefer, the right to be wrong, is surely fundamental to the existence of a democratic society. That's the right that went first in every nation that stumbled down the trail toward totalitarianism.

EDWARD R. MURROW, attributed, Murrow, His Life and Times

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The totalitarian attempt at global conquest and total domination has been the destructive way out of all impasses. Its victory may coincide with the destruction of humanity; wherever it has ruled, it has begun to destroy the essence of man.

HANNAH ARENDT, preface, The Origins of Totalitarianism

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The economic dictatorship of the monopolies and the political dictatorship of the totalitarian state are the outgrowth of the same political objectives, and the directors of both have the presumption to try to reduce all the countless expressions of social life to the mechanical tempo of the machine and to tune everything organic to the lifeless machine of the political apparatus.

RUDOLF ROCKER, Anarcho-Syndicalism

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Totalitarianism strives not toward despotic rule over men, but toward a system in which men are superfluous. Total power can be achieved and safeguarded only in a world of conditioned reflexes, of marionettes.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism

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The modern condition of rootlessness is a foundational experience of totalitarianism; totalitarian movements succeed when they offer rootless people what they most crave: an ideologically consistent world aiming at grand narratives that give meaning to their lives.

ROGER BERKOWITZ, "Why Arendt Matters: Revisiting 'The Origins of Totalitarianism'", L.A. Review of Books, March 18, 2017

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The sides are being divided now. It's very obvious. So if you're on the other side of the fence, you're suddenly anti-American. Its breeding fear of being on the wrong side. Democracy's a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it's no longer democracy, is it? It's something else. It may be an inch away from totalitarianism.

SAM SHEPARD, The Village Voice, November 12, 2004

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Totalitarianism is not only hell, but all the dream of paradise-- the age-old dream of a world where everybody would live in harmony, united by a single common will and faith, without secrets from one another.... Once the dream of paradise starts to turn into reality, however, here and there people begin to crop up who stand in its way. and so the rulers of paradise must build a little gulag on the side of Eden. In the course of time this gulag grows ever bigger and more perfect, while the adjoining paradise gets even smaller and poorer.

MILAN KUNDERA, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

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EVERYTHING NOT FORBIDDEN IS COMPULSORY.

T. H. WHITE, The Once and Future King

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If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face--forever.

GEORGE ORWELL, 1984

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Surely one thing to be learned from the lapsed totalitarian system was the unwholesome relationship between the cult of the masses and the adoration of the supreme personality.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports

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Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders. ... The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip.

RONALD REAGAN, The Guardian, June 14, 1989

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Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism

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Regardless of the specific contents of the ideology on which it is based, every totalitarianism is always all about possession, the possession of human lives even to the point of their ultimate consumption. Its insatiable appetite for consumption extends inevitably -- if it is really totalitarianism -- to the conquering of the entire human race. It is thus essentially expansionist, in a way that the old empires never were, for it seeks to expand not only in time and space, but even into the interior space of the human spirit.

TADEUSZ BUKSINSKI & DARIUSZ DOBRZANSKI, Eastern Europe and the Challenges of Globalization

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People who live in the post-totalitarian system know only too well that the question of whether one or several political parties are in power, and how these parties define and label themselves, is of far less importance than the question of whether or not it is possible to live like a human being.

VACLAV HAVEL, "The Power of the Powerless", Living in Truth

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Does human nature undergo a true change in the cauldron of totalitarian violence? Does man lose his innate yearning for freedom? The fate of both man and the totalitarian State depends on the answer to this question. If human nature does change, then the eternal and world-wide triumph of the dictatorial State is assured; if his yearning for freedom remains constant, then the totalitarian State is doomed.

VASILY GROSSMAN, Life and Fate

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Totalitarianism is patriotism institutionalized.

STEVE ALLEN, Reflections

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Totalitarianism is always Manichaean, dividing the world into two mutually exclusive parties, the good and the bad, aiming to annihilate the latter. Putting these principles into everyday practice necessarily involves the use of generalized terror.

TZVETAN TODOROV, Hope and Memory: Lessons from the Twentieth Century

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Nationalism leads to totalitarianism, and totalitarianism leads to idolatry. It becomes not a principle of politics but a new religion and, let me add, a false religion.

ROBERT CECIL, "The Future of Civilization", June 1, 1938

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The all-seeing eye of a totalitarian regime is usually the watchful eye of the next-door neighbor.

ERIC HOFFER, The Ordeal of Change

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