By Robyn Winker
March 11, 2011
What if instead of continuing to reject totalitarian ideas in the United States, we slowly began to embrace them? And even worse, what if we didn’t even notice it was happening?
Thursday, students gathered in Western Illinois University’s Morgan Hall to hear Michael Kleen’s discussion entitled, “What Is Totalitarianism?” Thoughts were challenged and several points were made to compel attendees to question the intentions of the government. The lecture suggested that while we are not a totalitarian country, we have all of the necessary components to put the ideology in place.
The purpose of the presentation was to explain the realities behind totalitarianism and look at it as a form of social control, not simply just a form of government. In addition, this presentation helped students realize that the media representation of totalitarianism doesn’t match the reality.
According to Kleen, “Totalitarianism is total state control over both public and private life. There can be varying degrees of totalitarianism, but essentially it requires two things: the tools and the ideology. The ‘tools’ of totalitarianism are state control over industry, mass surveillance, state-run media, cults of personality, political oppression, strict gun control, etc.” Alone, these tools do not translate to totalitarianism. Only when they are partnered with ideology will totalitarianism become a reality.