Concerning a Totalitarian Regime

In English today, we were assigned a new project-type thing. Basically, we formed 5 groups of 4 people each, and each group “became” a new totalitarian government. Each group decided who will act in the role of leader, recorder, speaker, and reviewer. I ended up being the speaker, so tomorrow I need to explain my groups’ reasons for choosing the aspects of society that we chose to control (government agencies, water supply, education, natural resources, etc.)

The unsettling thing is that the majority of my group, including myself, found it surprisingly easy to think from a dictator’s point of view. Should we take over the elementary/high schools? Of course, because then we can corrupt the minds of the young to produce a whole new generation of supporters. Should we take over control of the food production in our nation? Absolutely, as starving people are people upon whom we can exercise leverage. A starving populace is more likely to do the things a totalitarian government asks if food is part of the equation, after all. Is it a good idea to take over the media, including visual and written communication? Definitely! Propaganda, surely, is the key component to a successful totalitarian regime.

My question is: Why was it so easy for us to take on the roles of dictators? Why was it so easy for us to think of ways to force a nation to do what we want it to do, when we want them to do it, in the way we want it done? Maybe it’s the result of the past century or so of human history, the events that remain so fresh in our minds, and which are endlessly pounded into our brains by a multitude of government funded courses? We’ve learned so much about the past, the dark times along with the slightly less dark. Perhaps our knowledge of the events which led certain dictators/rulers to power is what enables us to so easily slip into a role comparable to that of the worst people in history?

Is this a beneficial thing? Are we able to use our knowledge of past motivations and struggles as a force for good in our lives? Or are we simply learning how to become the thing which so many fear?

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~ by offling on March 2, 2009.

4 Responses to “Concerning a Totalitarian Regime”

  1. The blindness which led certain individuals of history into such disastrous roles continues to afflict each and every person who attempts to lead today, leadership based solely on their own merits and reasonings.

    Or is it?

    How ironic, that dictators will use propaganda to control the populace, and yet, perhaps unbeknownst to them, they are also victims of propaganda. They are the ones being controlled; marionettes, if you will.

    History repeats itself that it matters little how well intentioned a leader may be; either to begin with, or for the duration of their rule (often a short duration).

    • captain morgan, I agree with you 100 percent. I suppose that history is not merely a means to learn from the mistakes of the past, but more like a pattern of mistakes and problems to come.

  2. Personally, I find it all too easy to put myself in the shoes of the victims of dictators. Contemplating the enormity of human suffering caused by bad government is so overwhelming, especially when studying history.
    But the purpose of your exercise – for english (?) – was to explore how important language is in politics, right? Or something to that effect? I guess it could be viewed as a way to gain insight into how the governments manipulate the media today… and how the media manipulates us. >.<
    Maybe understanding how that works is not a bad thing – because you can see from history the travesty of justice that it caused.

    • The unit I’m on right now is more focused on the idea of a dystopian society, as portrayed in “1984” by George Orwell, as opposed to the use of language in politics. I’m sure that language, propaganda, and bias will be discussed eventually, though. I haven’t started the book yet, but I’m pretty excited. The only other book I’ve read by George Orwell is “Animal Farm”, but I really enjoyed it.

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