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What is the difference between dictatorship and totalitarianism?

Both totalitarianism and dictatorship are autocratic governments, that is, governments in which power is only in the hands of a single person. The most popular forms of autocracy are monarchy and dictatorship. A dictatorship is the form of government in which the dictator is the sole representative of the state and possesses the absolute power of this. The totalitarianism , on the other hand is the political power in the state completely controls every aspect of the country, restricting even the rights or individual rights of its citizens.

Dictatorship is a term that belongs to Roman political law and means that in certain serious circumstances, such as the presence of Anibal in Italy, it seems necessary to suspend, but not to suppress, the political structures delivering, for a time, all the power to that person who acquires the responsibility of solving the problem.

Totalitarianism is a term proposed by Lenin when he had to give structure to that state that was born of a profound Revolution. It consists in subjecting all the functions of the State to the Party that was at that time unique, although there is no reason to suppose that this system can not be applied to situations in which several parties that are installed in the power. It simply means, on the one hand, that the State is obliged to offer its resources to the Party – even the parties – and, on the other hand, limit itself to complying with the decisions that the governing bodies of that party adopt.

Comparison table

Dictatorship
Totalitarianism
DefinitionA dictatorship is the form of government in which power is in the hands of only one figure: the dictator.In a government of this type there is no division of powers, so it is often lent to commit arbitrariness as benefiting minorities.A totalitarian government is one in which freedom is completely eliminated. Absolute power is in the hands of a single political party.This match usually (or intends) to be the only match. Through strategies such as the use of propaganda , they exalt the masses and control society.
EtymologyDictatorship comes from the Latin“dictatura” and means “government in which a single person is in charge”.On the other hand, totalitarianism comes from Latin and means “power in a single political party”.
Who has the power?In a dictatorship the power is in the hands of a single person; the dictator.On the other hand, in a totalitarian government, power is in the hands of a political party. So, although they have or usually have only one representative, the decisions are not taken alone.
ExamplesSome of the most famous dictatorships that have taken place throughout history include:

  • The Roman dictatorship (in ancient Rome).
  • The Cuban dictatorship, in the hands of Fidel Castro and Raúl Castro.
  • The government of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
  • The dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz “the Porfiriato” in Mexico.
  • The government of Francisco Franco in Spain.
  • The government of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, among others.
The most well-known totalitarian governments are:

  • Hitler’s government, where the German National Socialist Workers Party had power behind the figure of Hitler.
  • As for modern totalitarian countries, are Belarus, Somalia, South Sudan, Chad, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, among others.

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