Ideal Good Citizen In A Totalitarian Government
Why would any person or government suppress its own people? Throughout history, different forms of government have been developed with varying intentions. The leaders in these governments adopt ideologies that may either promote an inclusive government where citizens are involved in the decision making or a totalitarian government which according to Awan and Raza (2016) it oversees and controls everything including the personal lives of its people.
Governments are expected to allow and tolerate different voices and reasonings. They should enforce rules and regulations that protect the rights of each citizen from being exploited. It should balance the interests of many and transfer powers from the people to its set of rules or rather the constitution. An ideal citizen in theory should be a law-abiding citizen, one who adheres to the set rules and regulations and aims to exercise his rights and obligations so as to make his nation a better place (King, 2015). He should protect the rights of others and care for their existence. Under the rule of Stalin in the 1930s, there was a grave difference in the meaning of an ideal citizen. Faithfulness was to be first and foremost to the Communist Party. Citizens were expected to follow any and all rules and regulations but also had to be willing to sacrifice all personal beliefs and even family allegiances to the commands of political authority. At what point do citizens tire of conflicts between being a good citizen and following their own moral ideals?
In the event citizens feel deprived of their rights and they are mistreated through either acts of violence or neglect, most of them either migrate or withdraw from active patriotism or nation-building. Oppression of citizens leads to voter apathy. A scenario where citizens either do not care about the outcome of elections or there is a low turn out during the voting period. This is because their opinions are not taken into consideration. The people of Soviet Russia, under the rule of Stalin, had a combination of voter apathy and even some post-traumatic stress disorder related to voting. This PTSD not only affected voter turn outs but even swayed votes to keep the peace. According to Zhukov & Talibova (2017), “The most common explanation here is preference falsification, where individuals hide their true political preferences due to fears of renewed violence, and instead publicly express preferences at odds with their own,” (pg. 4).
Totalitarian governments used force and suppression to rule and destroy societal structures. It is the most extreme form of authoritarianism. People are exploited badly to the point of death. The ruler controls the whole society and determines its values. The rules are twisted so as to fit the ruler’s ideologies and motives. The people have little or no rights and they do not have a say in the decisions being made. Those who do not support these regimes and their actions are considered to be enemies of the state. They are punished ruthlessly and inhumanly.
Totalitarian dictators silenced any active opposition that has specific objectives. It perceives any form of organization as a political threat. This was definitely evident in Stalin’s rule in the Soviet Union. He used his military to rule and abuse minorities and those in the opposition until he got absolute powers even within the communist party which was then the ruling party (Shlapentokh, 2017). He, like many other dictators, started from what seemed to be a revolution to liberate his people. He used fear tactics and coercion to ensure obedience. Stalin exploited and killed many people in a bid to maintain power. According to Shlapentokh (2017), millions of people were sent to prisons and labor camps. National funds were directed into constructing prisons and degenerative military operations.
As discussed by Shlapentokh (2017), totalitarian regimes are characterized by an overall misuse and abuse of power by rulers. These rulers develop cult-like movements that demand allegiance, they ensure full domination on factors of production in their economy. In such states, there is no freedom of speech as there are constant surveillance and no laws to protect its people from absolute control. Most of these regimes are sustained by fraudulent elections through the use of state machinery to determine the outcome of elections. These nations experience mass murders especially through unending wars. In conclusion, all such governments are meant to serve the selfish gains of those rulers. They end up destroying nations’ economies and interfering with peoples’ social lives for many years to come.
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