Compare authoritarian vs totalitarian regimes.

The major difference in terms of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes lies in the ways of the ruling execution. The authoritarian government, being opposite to democracy, seeks to focus power in the hands of an individual. Totalitarian regime, on the contrary, tries to control every aspect of people’s lives through the ideas of common interests and ideals for the community.


Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes as ruling models are often confused due to their specific, opposite to democracy, execution. In order to define them properly, it is necessary to examine each of the regimes as well as to provide some examples for a better understanding of their definitions. Thus, starting from the authoritarian regime, they are going to be defined and explained to compare them on the ground of similarities and differences.

Authoritarianism is a pattern of a political system, which holds power in the hands of a leader or a small group of people, not elected by people. The leader of the state in the authoritarian regime makes decisions arbitrary without any possibility of this action to be appealed. Any opposition is prohibited or limited by the state power in order to concentrate on the individual ruling.

Thus, the authoritarian regime serves as an absolute opposition to the notion of democracy. The vivid example of authoritarianism in the context of modern society is the political systems of Russia and China. Although these states create an impression of relative freedom, their legislative systems still limit the opportunities to oppose the government, whether it is press or a non-governmental organization.

Totalitarianism is a model of the governmental ruling, which seeks to control all the actions happening within the state by interfering in the life of state residents. Although theoretically, people are free residents without any limitations, their lives and actions are still made under the meticulous governmental surveillance.

Such control is always hidden under the notion of a particular ideology, which theoretically could unite the state and improve its social and materialistic conditions. In fact, however, these ideologies are almost impossible to bring to life, and they are created to implement the government’s regulations through the prism of a common goal.

Furthermore, such a technique suppressed the significance of pluralism and individualism and, as a result, contributed to the development of a unified, easily influenced power. The term was coined at the beginning of the 20th century by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. The vivid examples of the totalitarian regime are the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin’s ruling, and Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. North Korea is still a totalitarian state ruled by a representative of the Kim dynasty – Kim Jong-un.

Having defined both authoritarianism and totalitarianism, it is now possible to single out common and distinctive features of the regimes. First of all, while authoritarian leaders are willing to keep all the power individually, they do not interfere with social and economic institutions. Totalitarians, on the contrary, seek power everywhere possible, including even residents’ personal lives.

Another distinct feature is the way of rule execution. Totalitarian leaders often hide their intentions behind a certain ideology, which is supposed to be beneficial for the community, while authoritarians are focused on having individual power. Thus, while both authoritarian and totalitarian regimes oppose the core ideas of democracy, and authoritarianism is, in fact, totalitarianism, they still have some distinct features that help differentiate them.

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