LSO 225 Totalitarianism in the Modern World: Essay Assignment – How did the current leader in your chosen state come to power?

LSO 225 Totalitarianism in the Modern World: Essay Assignment – How did the current leader in your chosen state come to power?

So far in this course, we have looked at the origins of totalitarianism, with a specific focus on Soviet Russia. In the coming weeks, we will also be investigating Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. For this paper, however, you will be examining a modern totalitarian regime, describing how and why this state could be properly considered totalitarian. In assessing this, you’ll want to refer back to the ‘hallmarks’ of a totalitarian state as outlined on page one of Bruce Pauley’s Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. Note that for this paper, you’ll explore ONE of these hallmarks in detail.

You’ll also describe (in brief) how this particular regime came to power. This section should be no more than a page in length, but it should explain to the reader, in brief, how this state (or regime, or movement) came to dominate the life of its citizens.

You should end your paper with a brief judgement on why you do, or do not, consider this state to be legitimately totalitarian.

Your final essay should be about 7-9 pages in length, double-spaced, 12 pt. font.

Structure of the Essay:

Your paper, to review, will consist of FOUR sections:

The opening paragraph (where you introduce your topic and state your thesis)


The coming to power (where you discuss how, in brief, this state or regime came to be ruled by a dictator or authoritarian ruler).


The sub-theme (where you explore ONE of the sub-themes from the list below in some depth.


The concluding paragraph (where you restate your central argument and pass a judgement on why, or why not, you consider this state to be truly dictatorial).


Themes to Explore

Your instructions are to discuss the seizure of power in the regime that you are describing (in one page):

Use these questions when discussing the seizure of power:

The seizure of power:

How did the current leader in your chosen state come to power?

Was it a legitimate (democratic) accession, or did this leader force his/her way into power?

Is this leader appointed for life, or subject to the electoral process?

If there are elections in this country, are they generally free and fair?

Then, choose ONE of these themes to address in the remainder of your paper:

Totalitarian economies:

How strictly does this government (or regime) control economic production?

Describe how the government controls the economy.

Is the country actively engaged in foreign trade?

Is private wealth allowed to exist?

Propaganda, Culture and Education:

Does this state (or regime) regulate or censor the production of culture? (Art, films, movies, books, etc)?

How free is the press in this country? (Are journalists and bloggers jailed, or worse? Is open criticism of the regime in the media acceptable?)

Does open access to the internet exist?

Does the state strictly regulate school curriculum? Does official ideology appear in the curriculum? Are private schools allowed?

Family values and social policy:

Does the state dictate social policy to its population? (For example, are the rights of women constricted, or are certain minorities denied care or legal rights?)

Are men, solely by virtue of their gender, more powerful in this state?

Are religious minorities accepted, or persecuted?

Is divorce legal? Abortion? Birth control?

Totalitarian terror:

Does a secret police exist to monitor the population?

Does the state jail political activists?

How does this state monitor and deal with threats from within?

Are there examples of challenges to the regime’s authority that were put down by force?

Diplomacy and Statecraft:

Does this state observe international laws?

Have international organizations (such as the UN) criticized the policies of this state? (If so, which policies?)

Does this state threaten its neighbors with aggression?


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