Since its conceptual development in 1920s, totalitarianism has been in existence in
various movements all through history. Passerini (2017) defines totalitarianism as a political
system whereby all authority is bestowed on the state. Within a totalitarian society, the regulation
of both the private and public life are in the hands of the government. Totalitarianism is the
actual opposite of democracy. The state leadership controls almost all the facets of the
government, from social to economical to cultural and political aspects. Some of the totalitarian
states include; Nazi Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, North Korea under the
leadership of Kim Dynasty, and Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin, among others.
In the totalitarian states, the citizens are denied certain rights. Unlike in the democratic
societies, the citizens who live within the totalitarian societies have their freedom of speech
restricted (Ducker 2017). They are not allowed to express themselves freely, and if they have to,
then whatever they say must not be a criticism towards the authorities or how the leaders run the
state. According to Ducker (2017), totalitarian states are characterized by far-reaching political
authoritarianism, absence of democracy, complete authority over the economy, and prevalent
state-terrorism, among others. Furthermore, in their bid to secure their positions and curb any
threats, the totalitarian administrations use tyrannical secret police, widespread exercise of
capital punishment, falsified elections, religious oppression, state skepticism and massacres.
Kamenka (2017) considers a totalitarian society as one which recognizes no parameters to the
authority it exercises, but spreads that authority to whatsoever dimension viable.
Some scholars argue that in most totalitarian states where the citizens’ rights are
suppressed, the ‘ideal’ aspect of the citizens becomes invisible. Kravchenko (2019) defines an
ideal citizen as one who works towards ensuring that his country develops either economically,
socially or politically. An ideal citizen follows the rules set by the society, as he lives peacefully
IDEAL CITIZEN IN A TOTALITARIAN GOVERNMENT
with his neighbors. In everything he does, he values his nation before himself, therefore,
whatever action he takes, he must think of how it will impact the nation. An ideal citizen is law-
abiding and treasured asset to the state.
As discussed earlier, totalitarian leaders are tyrannical, in other words, only their opinions
count when it comes to government decisions. Nevertheless, one of the most important ways a
citizen can influence government decisions is through voting. Voting is the formal process of
choosing a preferred candidate for a government position (Anderson 2018). Even so, there are
still those citizens who fail to take part in casting their votes. This is what is considered ‘voter
apathy’. Anderson (2018) defines voter apathy as the lack of interest by the citizen voters to
participate in elections. In those states where voting is compulsory, voter apathy may be marked
by the high quantity of spoilt ballot votes; while in states where voting is not compulsory, voter
apathy can be expressed by low voter turnout on the day of the election. Failing to vote as a
citizen, can be consequential, depending on the state rules. In some states, for example, if a voter
fails to vote in at least three elections, their right to vote can be lost for up to 10 years.
Sometimes, a non-voter can find it hard being employed in the public sector.
Certain governments have put up measures of ensuring that all eligible voters turn out to
vote on the elections day (Anderson 2018). They do this by making the Election Day a public
holiday, so that the citizens do not go to work, to cast their votes. Some states also conduct
public awareness and encourage voters to turn out in large numbers, prior to the voting day.
IDEAL CITIZEN IN A TOTALITARIAN GOVERNMENT
Anderson, M. (2018). Combating Voter Apathy within the Rising Electorate in the United States.
Drucker, P. (2017). The end of economic man: The origins of totalitarianism. Routledge.
Kamenka, E. (2017). Totalitarianism. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, 821-
Kravchenko, Z. (2019). The invention of the ideal citizen. Borderlands in European Gender
Studies: Beyond the East–West Frontier, 33.
Passerini, L. (2017). Memory and totalitarianism. Routledge.