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“Totalitarianism” is a thoroughly unscientific—or, really, anti-scientific—“theory” concocted and promoted by intellectual apologists of this system of capitalism-imperialism.


In my social media message number Thirty-Seven (@BobAvakianOfficial), I referred to my article Another Provocative But Simple And Basic Truth On Communism And The Fallacy Of “Totalitarianism,” which begins with this blunt statement: 

It is very common to hear communism denounced as “totalitarian,” but the fact is that there is no such thing as totalitarianism. 

That article goes on to make this point: 

There has never been a society—in Russia, China, or anywhere else—that corresponds to what is asserted by Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism, the seminal work and “Bible” of “anti-totalitarians.”

As I have extensively analyzed, “totalitarianism” is a thoroughly unscientific—or, really, anti-scientific—“theory” which has been concocted and promoted by intellectual apologists of this system of perpetual atrocity (this system of capitalism-imperialism) and which serves to distract from and rationalize this system’s ongoing massive crimes against humanity and to foster irrational opposition to revolution and especially communist revolution. That anyone could take this “theory” seriously—and that this “theory” is widely treated as some kind of “sacred wisdom”—is a bitter testament to the willful desire on the part of far too many, including far too many self-professed “liberals,” to accommodate themselves to this capitalist-imperialist system, which rests on the ruthless exploitation of billions of people around the world, including hundreds of millions of children, enforced through brutal repression and massive destructive violence.

The “theory” of “totalitarianism,” attempts to identify communism and fascism as two extremely oppressive systems that have in common the fact that they rule through denying people basic rights and keeping the masses of people in a state of constant terror. In fact, as I have made clear, in articles and other works available at, communism and fascism are the exact opposite of, and fundamentally in antagonism with, each other. Communism represents, and embodies the struggle for, the ending of all relations of exploitation and oppression among human beings, while fascism seeks to impose the most extreme and grotesque expressions of these relations. Communism bases itself on a scientific method and approach, and appeals to the highest aspirations of people for a world where human beings can truly thrive, without these divisions and the antagonisms to which they give rise. Fascism is fundamentally anti-scientific and relies on the promotion of ignorance, superstition and crude distortions of reality, and the mobilization of a rabidly fanatical mass of unthinking people motivated by the lowest and most depraved impulses and prejudices, with virulent hatred for all those who are not part of the masculine “master race” of people.

As I will refer to later in this article, there are real criticisms to be made, and important lessons to be drawn, from the ways in which the experience of socialist societies, led by communists, first in the Soviet Union (from 1917 to 1956) and then in China (from 1949 to 1976), have involved significant problems and errors, including in ways that have departed from the basic principles of communism. But, in this regard, several crucial points need to be emphasized. 

First, as I have analyzed in a number of works, which are available at, these errors have been made in the context of unprecedented difficult challenges, especially in the form of unrelenting pressure and even massive destructive attacks by imperialist and other forces determined to wipe out these socialist societies.

Second, the errors that were made did not characterize but represented a secondary counter-current to the principally, even overwhelmingly emancipating transformations that were achieved in the historically short period of existence of these socialist countries. 

Third, none of these problems and errors are explained by the “theory” of “totalitarianism” and its attempt to identify communism with fascism—which, as I will show, represents a grotesque distortion of the character of these socialist societies, of communism and of reality in a more all-around way.

And finally, through the work I have done, drawing from the experience of previous communist revolutions, and a broad range of human experience, there has been the development of the new communism, which represents a continuation of, but also represents a qualitative leap beyond, and in some important ways a break with, communist theory as it had been previously developed. As an essential expression of this new communism, there is the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which I have authored, containing a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a radically new and emancipating society, aiming for the emancipation of humanity as a whole from all relations of exploitation and oppression, through the achievement of communism throughout the world. As I have said about this Constitution:

It is a fact that, nowhere else, in any actual or proposed founding or guiding document of any government, is there anything like not only the protection but the provision for dissent and intellectual and cultural ferment that is embodied in this Constitution, while this has, as its solid core, a grounding in the socialist transformation of the economy, with the goal of abolishing all exploitation, and the corresponding transformation of the social relations and political institutions, to uproot all oppression, and the promotion, through the educational system and in society as a whole, of an approach that will “enable people to pursue the truth wherever it leads, with a spirit of critical thinking and scientific curiosity, and in this way to continually learn about the world and be better able to contribute to changing it in accordance with the fundamental interests of humanity.”

With the above in mind, we can now turn to a fuller analysis of the “theory” of “totalitarianism” and the way it consistently distorts—and leads people away from a scientific understanding of—reality, especially the crucial historical experience of communist revolution and socialist society.

The “extensive analysis” I referred to at the beginning here is contained in my book Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? where I demonstrate the utter bankruptcy of this “theory” of “totalitarianism.” That book was written 40 years ago, but even though there are some parts of it that no longer have the same relevance (for example, it contains analysis of the nature and role of the Soviet Union, which no longer exists), and there are some particular things I might formulate somewhat differently (as life has gone on and I have continued to learn), the basic analysis in the book, including its critique of the “theory” of “totalitarianism,” definitely remains valid and very important. Accordingly, I am going to include here some relevant passages from the book’s critique of “totalitarianism,” along with some additional commentary to provide further context and explanation. (These passages are from the section “The Theory of Totalitarianism and Its Political Role,” pp. 167-190.)

As I wrote at the beginning of my critique of “totalitarianism,” it is “not a scientific theory (at least not a scientifically correct one) but is a distortion of reality in the service of definite class interests and specific political objectives.”

The “definite class interests” are those of the capitalist-imperialist ruling class, particularly of the U.S. (and its “western imperialist allies”). And the “specific political objectives” are shaped by the fact that this book by Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism) was written, in the period shortly after the end of World War 2, when the “cold war” with the then-socialist Soviet Union was heating up. The purpose and objective of this book (as I pointed out in my critique) was, first of all, to “single out the Soviet Union” as “the focus of evil in the world” (as Ronald Reagan later put it) and to serve as an apologist for the many not-so-democratic regimes that make up a big part of the “free world,” headed by the U.S., as well as “prettifying” and distracting attention from the criminal nature of the western imperialist democracies themselves.

At the same time, I also pointed out that Arendt’s analysis “lacks even internal, logical consistency.” That stands out, for example, in the fact that, although Arendt at first seems to be analyzing “totalitarianism” in both fascist and communist forms, her actual target is communism. Her book is really just an elaborate, pretentious but intellectually impoverished and dishonest piece of “cold war propaganda.” Among other things, this can be seen in the fact that, on the one hand, Arendt writes that, “Practically speaking, it will make little difference whether totalitarian movements adopt the pattern of Nazism or Bolshevism” [communism]—but then she argues that during the period of the 1930s and into the second world war (which began in 1939 and ended in 1945), only the Soviet Union was fully “totalitarian,” while fascist Italy (headed by Mussolini) was not fully “totalitarian,” and even Nazi Germany, under Hitler, “was not yet completely totalitarianized” and “only if Germany had won the war would she [sic] have known a fully developed totalitarian rulership.”

This leads Arendt down the path of regularly twisting reality in the service of her anti-communist crusade, carried out in the name of opposing “totalitarianism.” As I pointed out in my critique of this, Arendt (and similar “anti-totalitarians”) are every bit as fanatical in their portrayal of “totalitarianism” as the “totalitarians” they invent. Here are some examples.

* Arendt makes the ridiculous claim that, with totalitarianism, “we are indeed at the end of the bourgeois era of profits and power, as well as at the end of imperialism and expansion”! Do I have to say how out of touch with reality this claim is—and was at the time Arendt wrote it?! (More later on Arendt’s attempts to “prettify” imperialism.)

* Arendt agrees with what can only be considered a mentally deranged statement by the French anti-communist “socialist” Boris Souvarine, who actually said about Stalin (who led the Soviet Union for several decades, beginning in the 1920s) that Stalin always made a point of saying the opposite of what he did, and doing the opposite of what he said. (Souvarine literally said “always”—and Arendt agreed with this!) This is ridiculous, and crazy, on the face of it—as any rationally thinking person would immediately recognize. As I pointed to in answering this: “Can anyone really imagine a person, let alone a whole society, actually functioning while being governed by the principle of always saying the opposite of what you did and doing the opposite of what you said?” Statements of this kind, made by Souvarine and agreed with by Arendt, represent the truly lunatic lengths to which the “anti-totalitarians” are driven in the attempt to articulate their “anti-totalitarian” fanaticism.

* As I pointed out in my critique of Arendt (and have written about more extensively in other works), after the death of the leader of the Russian revolution, V.I. Lenin, in 1924, when the Soviet Union faced the situation of being the only successful socialist revolution in the world (with other attempts at this revolution, for example in Germany, brutally crushed), there was struggle among Soviet leaders over the question of whether a socialist system could be built in one country—and, if so, how to go about this. This was a particularly acute problem in the Soviet Union then, where the majority of the population lived in very backward conditions in the vast countryside, and this new Soviet republic was surrounded by hostile imperialist powers, many of which (including the U.S.) had sided with the unsuccessful attempt by counter-revolutionaries to crush and defeat the Soviet republic through the civil war that followed the 1917 Russian revolution (some of these imperialist countries actually invaded the territory of the new Soviet republic during that civil war).

But Arendt refuses to recognize any of this: For her, these very real challenges, and the struggle that developed among the Soviet leadership in this critical situation—all this was not really real—it was just an invention by Stalin, a device utilized by Stalin as part of his totalitarian urge for absolute power. This is another striking example of how the so-called “scholars” of “anti-totalitarianism” ignore actual reality, or grossly distort it, in the service of their anti-scientific “theory.”

* Arendt tries to say that Marxism—or, in fact, her distortion of the scientific and emancipating outlook and objectives first set forth by Marx—is essentially the same as the genocidal, anti-scientific fanaticism of the Nazis. Arendt writes this:

Underlying the Nazis’ belief in race laws as the expression of the law of nature in man, is Darwin’s idea of man as the product of a natural development, which does not necessarily stop with the present species of human beings, just as under the Bolsheviks’ [followers of Lenin’s] belief in class-struggle as the expression of the law of history lies Marx’s notion of society as the product of a gigantic historical movement which races according to its own law of motion to the end of historical times when it will abolish itself.

Note that here Arendt first crudely distorts and slanders the theory of evolution, developed by Charles Darwin—portraying this scientifically-established theory as the source of the Nazis’ genocidal race laws! And then Arendt moves on to crudely distort Marxist theory. The latter part of Arendt’s supposed characterization of Marxism here bears more resemblance to the philosophy of Friedrich Hegel, who was an early influence on Marx, but whom Marx moved beyond, actually “turning on its head” key parts of the “dialectical method” of Hegel. This is more than I can get into in this article, but the relevant point here is that Marx did not see the achievement of communism as the “end of historical times,” but rather the beginning of a new era in human history, with the abolition of relations of exploitation and oppression among human beings.

Once more, in the desperate attempt to equate communism with Nazism/fascism—and, as I have shown, to single out communism as the worst of the two—Arendt is forced into yet more crude distortions. As I wrote in answering this particular distortion, just because people are advocates of a comprehensive worldview, and insist moreover that this worldview is directly relevant to changing the world in a desired way, “does that make their worldviews essentially the same, or render irrelevant any differences between them?” There is a fundamental, truly a world of, difference between the scientific, emancipating outlook and method of communism, as first developed by Marx, and the anti-scientific, genocidal outlook and method of Nazism (and fascism in general)—a difference that is clear to anyone seriously and honestly looking into this, and not blinded by irrational “anti-totalitarianism.” 

* Arendt even goes so far as to insist that, “contrary to certain postwar legends, Hitler never intended to defend ‘the West’ against Bolshevism but always remained ready to join ‘the Reds’ [the communists] for the destruction of the West, even in the middle of the struggle against Soviet Russia.” So much reality is mangled in this statement by Arendt, that it is difficult to know where to begin exposing the lies here. Let’s start with the fact that one of the defining features of Hitler’s outlook, along with his genocidal animus toward Jews, was his equally fanatical hatred for communism and communists (who were among the first of his targets for imprisonment and murder). Along with this, there is the fact that, in the second world war, the massive invasion of the Soviet Union by Hitlerite Nazi Germany cost the lives of somewhere between 20 and 30 million Soviet people. The Soviet Union’s ultimate defeat of this invasion effectively broke the back of the Nazi war machine, was decisive in the defeat of Nazi Germany overall, and constituted a turning point in the war as a whole. My critique of Arendt quotes the book America in Decline on this essential point:

Military history here is very clear. Even Winston Churchill admitted in March 1943 that for the next six months Great Britain and the United States would be “playing about” with half a dozen German divisions while [the Soviet Union headed by] Stalin was facing 185 divisions.

As for the fact that in 1939, the Soviet government signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany: as America in Decline also points out, this agreement was made by the Soviet Union because of the need to buy time to prepare for what would very likely be an attack on the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany. And, as I pointed out “the pact between the Soviet Union and Germany in 1939 was entered into by Stalin only after his repeated attempts to draw the ‘Western democracies’ into an alliance against Germany were just as repeatedly rebuffed.”

Two years after Nazi Germany signed this “non-aggression” pact, it broke the agreement and launched its massive invasion of the Soviet Union, with all the terrible results of that (including Soviet deaths that were more than 10 times the combined U.S., British and French battle deaths in the war as a whole). And, again, the eventual defeat of this invasion of the Soviet Union, with all the massive destruction, starvation and all-around terror this invasion caused, also was the key factor in the ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany.

Yet, with all this, Arendt wants people to believe that Hitler “always remained ready to join ‘the Reds’ for the destruction of the West, even in the middle of the struggle against Soviet Russia”! That Arendt could actually write this, is proof of the old saying that “paper will put up with whatever is written on it”—even the most outrageous and grotesque distortions of historical fact, in the service of ideological purposes (in this case, Arendt’s crude anti-communism in the name of “anti-totalitarianism”).

As I pointed out in Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?—and as I have gone more deeply into, in the 40 years since—from the standpoint of the revolutionary transformation of the world, to bring about the emancipation of the masses of humanity, and ultimately humanity as a whole, from all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression, it is correct to uphold Stalin’s role overall, in leading and defending the world’s first socialist state in the face of extremely difficult circumstances—and, as we have seen, massively devastating attacks. But, at the same time, there are definitely serious criticisms that need to be made of Stalin’s role in this whole process. This involves crucial lessons in terms of carrying forward the revolutionary struggle for socialism, and ultimately a communist world, on a far more consistently scientific and truly emancipating basis. And, indeed, there is great importance to a critical assessment of the historical experience of communist revolution as a whole, which I have also undertaken.

This is a process which I began, in a concentrated way, with my work “Conquer The World,” from the same general time period as Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?, and which I have continued in the 40 or so years since, with the development of the new communism. There are a number of works of mine, available at, which get into this in some depth. (And there are important works there by others, in particular Raymond Lotta, applying the method of the new communism to this important historical summation.) But this necessary, critical summation, on a scientific basis, is completely, fundamentally different than the work of Arendt and other “anti-totalitarians”—whose purpose is to slander communism in the service of capitalist-imperialist domination, plunder and destruction of people and the environment, throughout the world, and whose method, in pursuit of that purpose, is one of gross, and truly grotesque, distortion of crucial reality.

And, as is clear with Arendt, what this reveals is a deep-seated fear—it is not exaggeration to say terror—at the prospect of radical change, even of the most emancipating kind. With Arendt, this comes through not only in her irrational hatred for communism but also, as I have noted, her distortion of and deep-seated discomfort with Darwinism, which she refers to as “evolution [having] donned the cloak of science”—as if the theory of evolution were something sinister and devious (“donning the cloak” of science, as she puts it—rather than a well-established scientific fact). And there is a unity in Arendt’s aversion to evolution and her hatred for communism. As I wrote in Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?

The understanding that the human species is capable of great flexibility, that it possesses great plasticity in terms of its response to the rest of nature, and that with the change in their circumstances—above all their social system—people are capable of great changes in their outlook and beliefs... yes, even their feelings... all this is tremendously liberating to those without a vested interest in the present order of things.... but to people like Arendt the mere attempt to... [bring about these changes] is itself horrifying. Hence we hear [from Arendt] the following dark existential ruminations: “Since the Greeks, we have known that highly developed political life breeds a deep-rooted suspicion of this private sphere, a deep resentment against the disturbing miracle contained in the fact that each of us is made as he is—single, unique, unchangeable.” (Italics added in my original quoting of this, boldface added here.)

In my social media message number Twenty-Two (@BobAvakianOfficial), I came back to this critical point:

In my previous message (number Twenty-One) I spoke to the fact that there is no such thing as “human nature.” In this message I am going to get further into how the communist revolution will bring about an end to all exploitation and oppression—and, along with this, it will make possible a radically different, uplifting way that people relate to each other.

Communism will utilize the technology and resources in the world, and the knowledge and abilities of people in the world, for the common good. This will make possible the creation of a common abundance for all of the people, doing away with the need for individuals to struggle just to survive, and eliminating the need for people to compete with each other in order to get the basic necessities of life. On this basis, it will make possible a fundamental transformation of what is now thought of as “human nature.”

Once more, the fact that (as I pointed out in those social media messages), people can and do change all the time, especially with changes in their circumstances—and there is the potential for people to change in a radically uplifting and emancipating way—this is tremendously encouraging and inspiring for all those without a vested interest in this monstrous system of capitalism-imperialism.

But those, like Hannah Arendt, with a vested interest in this system, can only recoil in horror at the prospect of the conscious emancipating transformation of circumstances and people that is represented by and can be achieved through the communist revolution. 

This leads someone like Arendt not only to engage in ridiculous, and outrageous, distortion and slander of communism, but at the same time to also distort—and in effect excuse—the most horrific crimes of “western” countries and their leading colonial and imperialist powers, specifically the U.S. and Britain. Thus, Arendt downplays the horror of slavery in the U.S., particularly with the worn-out and contrary-to-fact claim that the slave-owners “wanted to abolish it [slavery] gradually.” This is profoundly contradicted by “unfortunate” facts—like the fact that a leading slave-owner, Thomas Jefferson, was responsible for greatly enlarging slave territory in the U.S. through the Louisiana Purchase in the early 1800s. And the “slaveholders” who, according to Arendt, wanted to gradually eliminate slavery, provoked a Civil War in the 1860s in the failed attempt to not just maintain, but if possible expand, slavery.

In the same effort to rewrite history in order to uphold some of the worst atrocities of “western (imperialist) democracies,” Arendt argues that, under the rule of British colonialism, in the 1920s and 1930s, between world wars 1 and 2:

although British imperialist rule sank to some level of vulgarity, cruelty played a lesser role between the two World Wars than ever before and a minimum of human rights was always safeguarded. It is this moderation in the midst of plain insanity that paved the way for what Churchill has called “the liquidation of His Majesty’s Empire” and that eventually may turn out to mean the transformation of the English nation into a Commonwealth of English people.

This all but completely whitewashes the terrible atrocities that characterized British colonial rule in India and other parts of Asia, in Africa, and elsewhere—something which, among other things, is thoroughly and extensively documented in the book by Caroline Elkins Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire. As for Churchill—who is held in almost god-like reverence by representatives of “western” imperialism, including in the U.S., “liberal” and “conservative” alike—it is a well-established fact that he was a die-hard colonialist and racist, responsible for horrific crimes against humanity before, during and after the second world war, and who only accepted the end of the British empire when he was forced to do so, after being responsible for the most depraved acts in the attempt to maintain that empire.

It is important to keep in mind that, what I have shown here regarding Arendt is not peculiar to her, but on the contrary is typical of apologists for U.S. “western” imperialism, and their grotesque, and willful, distortion of reality—and in particular the experience of communism—with their bankrupt “theory” of “totalitarianism.”

And, strikingly, this even leads Arendt to the point of arguing that living in a communist world would be as bad as (if not worse than) nuclear devastation. In this connection, Arendt refers to totalitarianism as a “concentration-camp system” (and, again, it is important to keep in mind Arendt’s claim that only the Soviet Union, and not even Nazi Germany, became “fully totalitarianized”). She insists that the victory of this “concentration-camp system” would mean “the same inexorable [unavoidable] doom for human beings as the use of the hydrogen bomb would mean the doom of the human race.” This is very close to—if not in fact identical with—the crazed anti-communist cry: “better dead than red!” Or, as I pointed out in response to this statement by Arendt: “she is voicing a viewpoint very similar to the rationale of the Western imperialist spokesmen today who insist that, horrible as a nuclear war may be, there is one thing worse... and that is enslavement by totalitarianism.”

From all this, what I quoted at the beginning here, from my previous article on “totalitarianism,”1 should ring true all the more forcefully:

As I have extensively analyzed, “totalitarianism” is a thoroughly unscientific—or, really, anti-scientific—“theory” which has been concocted and promoted by intellectual apologists of this system of perpetual atrocity (this system of capitalism-imperialism) and which serves to distract from and rationalize this system’s ongoing massive crimes against humanity and to foster irrational opposition to revolution and especially communist revolution. That anyone could take this “theory” seriously—and that this “theory” is widely treated as some kind of “sacred wisdom”—is a bitter testament to the willful desire on the part of far too many, including far too many self-professed “liberals,” to accommodate themselves to this capitalist-imperialist system, which rests on the ruthless exploitation of billions of people around the world, including hundreds of millions of children, enforced through brutal repression and massive destructive violence.