Bible College of Western Australia

Totalitarian Regimes

by Cherry Stevenson.


The definition of the word “totalitarianism” in Webster’s Dictionary is Arrogating (to the State and the ruling party) all rights and every liberty of choice, including those normally belonging to individuals and various corporate bodies. Thus a totalitarian regime seeks to dominate society not just politically, but through direct control of an individual’s life through intimidation and repression.


Benito Mussolini came up with the word totalitario in the 1920s to describe the Fascist state of Italy, describing it as “All within the state, none outside the state, none against the state,” so by World War II the word had become practically the same as a one-party government.

The totalitarian model is not new, and in recent times, two prime examples of this were Nazi Germany (Adolph Hitler) and the Soviet Union (Joseph Stalin). Nikolai Lenin, the founder of the Soviet state, applied this model to his own version of Marxism. Joseph Stalin, Lenin’s successor, viewed totalitarianism as a permanent system and was prepared to use one-party dictatorship to form Russia into a strong industrial nation. He instituted terrorism in the form of mass killings of any opponents, destroying dissident groups through starving and banishing them to labour camps, thus building up and upholding a totalitarian system of supreme efficiency.

Thus humanity was and is viewed by these regimes as:

  • Machines:for the purpose of being used to do what they are told to do, not to question, but to perform a particular purpose to the best of their ability. They are not appreciated for who they are but for what they can do in a specific period of time.
  • Animals:reacting in certain ways if their needs are met. Drives which are instinct, i.e. hunger, thirst, fear can force them to do anything against their wishes in order to have these drives satiated. There is no thought about the effects on human beings, only the end result that invariably is for power and money.
  • Pawns:to be used by this minority to a great extent for its own benefit. In times of war, humans are expendable, used as a means to an end. The regime’s objectives and aims are to be achieved in a certain manner by a certain time, and human beings are manipulated, as pawns, to bring about the end results.

Stalin controlled every part of human life by a one-party state through the machination of terror police.

It is to be noted that the police in a totalitarian state are not required to operate within the constraints of laws and regulations.   Their actions are directed by the whim of their rulers.

Main Thrust:

The state or regime pursues a particular goal i.e. industrialisation as was the case with Stalin to the exclusion of everything else. It uses every resource to attain its goal, with either rejection or annihilation of anything or anyone who stands in opposition.

Under this rule, society and organisations are discouraged and suppressed – so weakening the social fabric and ensuring the people become agreeable to being absorbed into a single unified movement.

There is a danger in allowing one man to take on the role of lawmaker – this means that he is the final arbiter in the interpretation of laws and has the freedom to change these at will. This would have the affect of increasing terror among the people.


Our laws in western society at the present time, allow us to have the most precious form of freedom, that is thought and religion.   Any sign of totalitarianism threatens freedom. Totalitarian regimes not only identify the individual with the state but also the individual’s will is identified with the general will as defined by the state.

Another freedom that is threatened is that of “freedom of speech.” Why is it important to us?

Because we think

We then communicate what we think

And we try to do what we think.

The legal systems try to limit what we can do – which is well and good for the majority; however we can still communicate what we think which gives the people a chance to change the law, so we could do what we think. When totalitarian regimes stop the people from communicating what they think, it restricts what people can do.   They feel that they are not understood and therefore have no influence or voice. The regime makes them virtually nonexistent in the society.

It is imperative that ideas are expressed, no matter what they are. The importance being that the ideas are open for public examination and assessment – it keeps society on an even keel.   The danger arises when “politically correct” majorities silence some of these ideas thus suppressing the minority who become oppressed by these regimes.

A totalitarian regime sets out to continually brainwash the people by way of propaganda – censoring any opposing viewpoints under the threat of arrest and in most cases death. These regimes rule by fear. As with many past and present regimes, there exists the secret police and people are encouraged to betray their families, relatives and friends. What is the result of this – the eventual distrust for each other, even to the extent of loved ones? How can fear benefit anyone?

The reason these regimes come into power is because the people of a particular country are dissatisfied with their government at the time, thus allowing and accepting a rebel faction to takeover. Most times you will find that the leader of the rebel faction has a charisma about him and appears to be the kind of leader that will bring in a way of life that will meet the peoples’ needs. At first the leader encourages their support of all that he wants to put in place, and finally it becomes a requirement before they realise what is happening.


These regimes have no regard for human life and in the 20th Century there has been total destruction of whole generations.

Looking at this type of government from an ethical point of view, I believe is what is called the teleological system, that is to say a system that is based on obtaining the end result produced by an action.   An offshoot of this is ethical egoism…in other words, the leader of this type of regime or government will do whatever it takes, good or bad, to ensure that his interests are served.

Let me turn now to what is right in God’s eyes. The three pillars of authentic human civilization are –

  • recognition of God’s authority (from which comes binding moral rules of life) Exod. 20:1-8
  • respect for the dignity of the human person, (created in the image and likeness of God) Gen. 1:26-27.
  • and the duty to exercise power as a means of serving every member of society without exception, beginning with the weakest and the most vulnerable.

The Ten Commandments express the eternal law of God. The first four describe how people are to relate to God and the remainder of how people are to relate to each other. Human beings have not been created to be a law unto themselves rather we are to be subject to the law of God. While our relationship to God is significant, it is important that we reflect this in our dealings with other human beings. God made man in His image so that we can fellowship with Him and He can bless us. We are created individuals, free thinking and to reach our potential that God may be glorified.

Philippians 2:4 tell us to look out not only for our own interests, but also for the interest of others. That means we are to respect, honour and show no partiality in our association with other people.

God put in place the means of ruling and maintaining order in communities. Governments are to exist for the welfare of the entire society, with laws being put in place to set boundaries for people to live within. We are to be subject to the governing authorities (Rom 13:1) so long as the authorities are not going against God’s requirements.

In Tim 2:1-4 we are encouraged to pray for and obey, yet be ever watchful over our governments…using people power in certain circumstances to make governments accountable. It is important that the church keeps a close watch on morality issues and input’s God’s views into the government’s scheme of things.

When God is left out of all our lives (non-Christians and Christians); His word not lived by, nor acknowledged, the rot sets in.   Through our governments, the leaders, the church, employers, friendships, relationships and finally our own personal walk, everything degenerates. There is no hope and no future. Everything and Anything goes! Anarchy reigns! Our very thoughts and actions become sub-standard because they are not centred on God.



If we make Jesus our standard, then maybe we can change the way people think and subsequently act. Remember we are not on our own. If we study, learn and put into action in our lives the word of God, we will appreciate what he has given us and we will know how to live so that we can glorify Him and be an example to others.




Growth of Ideas (Macdonald Library)   Sir J Huxley, Sir G Barry, Dr J Bronowski & J Fisher
15th New Encyclopaedia Britannica   R P Gwinn Chairman Board of Directors.
Freedom and Democracy   Paul Raleigh
Wikipedia   (Free Encyclopaedia)
Pope John (current as at 2004)   Three pillars of human civilisation
All Scripture – New Geneva Study Bible NKJV    
Christian Ethics Study (BCWA)   Lecturer Rev Haydn Nelson (2004)



November 19, 2014

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