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Rise of Authoritarian Governments

Categories Government, Hitler, Nazi Germany

Essay, Pages 4 (897 words)



Essay, Pages 4 (897 words)

The rise of authoritarian politics led to mass destruction and chaos on a global scale. The great depression that erupted after the roaring twenties left countries like Germany in disarray. People were desperate for strong leadership to get them out of poverty and restore their country to its former glory empirically after their humiliating defeat during World War I. This was especially true for Germany. These events primed countries like Germany and the Soviet Union to support authoritarianism. The rise of authoritarian governments was due to their ability to isolate their citizens from the rest of the world, regulate most industries, and garner unquestioning loyalty.

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Isolation was one of the primary tactics used by authoritarian governments to gain power, especially by Nazi Germany. Hannah Arendt wrote in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism that “[i]solation and impotence, that is fundamental inability to act at all, have always been characteristic of tyrannies” (Pollard et al. 925). Victor Klemperer, a German citizen, describes these tactics in his diary entry.

He writes, “We know even less about today than about yesterday and no more than about tomorrow” giving evidence to how the German people were kept in the dark about what was happening around them and within their own country. By isolating their citizens, these governments prevented their people from questioning their authority thus allowing these governments to get their citizens to follow them blindly. However, these institutions do not completely isolate their citizens to ensure that they were still able to act on behalf of their country.

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Arendt continued by saying “The whole sphere of private life with the capacities for experience, fabrication, and thought are left intact” (Pollard et al. 925). In this way, authoritarian governments turned their citizens into productive mindless workers willing to do anything in the name of their country. This brainwashing was done so these governments could get their citizens to do whatever it took to dominate other countries.

A second tactic used by authoritarian parties to gain and maintain control was regulating industries. Anna Kovaleva, a citizen of the Soviet Union, wrote in a letter that her husband “always works like a shock worker, exceeding his norms,” (Pollard et al. 925). Her mention of “norms” indicates that U.S.S.R. implemented quotas for its workers to ensure that the Soviet Union would be a world power. They further controlled their citizens by instituting rewards for those who “fulfill the plan”. Kovaleva proclaims that she and her husband will “get an apartment with rugs, a gramophone, a radio, and other comforts” (Pollard et al. 925). The government also fired and cut off supplies to those who did not meet their quotas (Pollard et al. 926). By instituting rewards and punishments, the U.S.S.R. motivated workers to accomplish the goals of their regime so they could become a superpower. The U.S.S.R. government even went so far as to say that “work is a matter of honor, glory, valor and heroism” and therefore everyone should feel proud to be serving their country (Pollard et al. 926). In this way they got their citizens to pressure each other to work harder for their country.

A third tactic used by authoritarian governments to gain power was to gain unquestioning loyalty from their followers. The Nazi party did this by fostering a sense of nationalism in their citizens through propaganda. Germany’s citizens were constantly bombarded with propaganda as evidenced by Victor Klemperer’s Diary description of the Party Rally. He writes, “roars of triumph, then Goering’s speech, about the tremendous rise, affluence, peace and worker’s good fortune” was broadcast in the restaurant (Pollard et al. 926). The Nazi party ensured that its citizens were constantly reminded of how great their country was. They even went so far as to put down other countries. These rallies talked about the “absurd lies and hopes of its enemies” as a way of mocking them and promoting nationalism (Pollard et al. 926). In contrast, the U.S.S.R. gained loyalty from its citizens by honoring those who did good work. Anna Kovaleva boasted that her husband “is written up and praised in newspapers … and honored everywhere as shock workers” (Pollard et al. 925). In this way, governments gained loyalty from their citizens by providing incentives for meeting or even surpassing the goals of the regime.

In conclusion, authoritarian governments gained power by isolating their citizens from the rest of the world, regulating most industries, and garnering unquestioning loyalty. While Nazi Germany utilized isolation and the Soviet Union used regulation, they both depended on absolute loyalty from their people to gain and maintain control. It is easy for people in the 21st century to look back on the evens of the post-World War I era and see the imminent danger that came with the rise of the Nazi party and the U.S.S.R. However, for people living in Germany and Russia, these parties provided hope for a better future for them and their country. The rise of these authoritarian political systems shows us that it is important to question those in charge and to remain connected to the rest of the world. Leaders should not be followed blindly no matter how good their solutions and policies sound. It is the responsibility of the people under any government to keep their government in check.

Works Cited

Pollard, Elizabeth, et al. Worlds Together, Worlds Apart. Vol. 2, W.W. Norton & Company, 2019.

Cite this essay

Rise of Authoritarian Governments. (2020, Sep 14). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/rise-of-authoritarian-governments-essay

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