Totalitarianism Vs. Anarchy
Throughout our history, humans have struggled to create the perfect society, the utopia of our dreams where all people live free and happy. Many experiments have occurred over history to create this perfect society, from the United States to Communism, all of which were founded on the pretence that they would be the utopian society of human desire. However, important questions and new world events, both domestic and external, end up preventing this process. There has been constant debates within political institutions ever since the dawn of our civilizations along the great river valleys that once nurtured our species into maturity. These debates always revolve, or are connected to in some way, with Totalitarianism, the total and complete control of the everyday lives of a citizen by the government, and Anarchy, the total and complete nonexistence of a centralized government. Usually governments have a mixture of ideas from both perspectives, but most Western governments tend to pander to the freedom that anarchy holds, without having anarchy in general. The United States has freedoms to prevent totalitarianism, but also has laws and regulations to get around these, such as the PATRIOT Act. Totalitarianism and Anarchy are two conflicting political theories that make up the foundation of every civilization, and they couldn’t be more divisive.
Totalitarianism, in its literal sense, is the complete control of the everyday lives of the citizenry. Totalitarianism is essentially the existence of any form of government, be it extremely small, or extremely large. However, you have to ask the question: “Why do we have totalitarianism if we all want to be free and happy in the end of the day?” but upon saying that you would probably realize there are plenty of reasons. Totalitarianism exists because humans cannot individually govern ourselves. Without a law saying we can’t do this, a policy preventing a company from doing that or a regulation preventing an agency from certain things, these institutions would abuse their power for profit of themselves. Laws are enacted to prevent individuals from violating the natural rights of others, even though most governments also decide what those natural rights are. Totalitarianism is why we have a prison system or a military, these things are necessary to defend the best interests of the nation and it’s leadership, because a happy and secure citizenry is a loyal citizenry. Totalitarianism has existed for hundreds of thousands of years since the first tribal systems. It has had it’s good and bad experiments, all of which failed or succeeded due to human nature, culture and education.
On the other hand, Anarchy, or the lack of government, is the complete opposite. True anarchy is a place that exists where there are no flags, no borders, no regulations and everyone lives in mutual peace, but we know that could never be the case with humanity. Anarchy revolves around the aspects of pure freedoms and that any existence of government is the means to suppress these freedoms. This society is often regarded as the ultimate utopia. Many governments, particularly democracies, tend to claim that because they have freedoms, the individual in their nations are living in a free utopia, even though it’s mostly the opposite. Where totalitarianism is government control, Anarchy is individual control. Like totalitarianism, Anarchy is also stigmatized as being something chaotic. Protestors, bombs, killings, and lack of morals and public peace. However, Anarchy can be, and often is, perceived in many different ways, just like Totalitarianism. Pure capitalism, for example is the idea of little or a lack of industrial regulation, allowing the free market to operate openly without any obstacles or walls. Some people consider this freedom to work, freedom to make money, freedom to start a business to be a utopia, while others consider being in debt to corporations upon birth, getting their arm chopped off in a mechanical accident, or even working thirteen or fourteen hours a day as a dystopia. This creates a unique paradox in which corporations with massive monopolies, with its own rules and regulations becomes a new form of totalitarianism.
Keeping on the topic of industry, Totalitarian governments in their purest forms typically view the nation as controlling all aspects of the free market. This can be very light regulation, such as modern day democracies or total control like Communism. Similarly, totalitarian nations are typically equipped with a powerful military for various purposes. Some militaries exist for the purpose of keeping the current regime in power and suppressing revolutionary ideas, and some exist for the purpose of defending their nations sovereignty from other nations. These militaries are often well trained and disciplined, and sometimes well equipped depending on the country’s economic situation. Another institution common in totalitarian nations is law enforcement. It says it all in the name: The nation creates a law and the police execute the enforcement of said law. Police institutions can also vary in purpose and design. For example, the NKVD of the USSR served as border protection and internal secret police whose job was to find and make political dissenters disappear until it was reformed into the KGB later on. A far less radical example, U. S. police, carry the execution of laws created by the various tiers of government.
Anarchy, has none of these, in the literal sense. Anarchy is the lack of government, and with government comes all these institutions, otherwise there would be, well, anarchy. In an anarchic society, survival is key. The best way to give a good example of this would be the world of the Walking Dead. All governments have collapsed and the vestiges of human civilization stand as testament to what used to be, but people live on, and people tend to form groups for that survival. Whether anarchy is assisted by a world event or a mutual agreement, the only forms of government will be that of families and relationships. Groups of soldiers, for example, may form a militia to defend themselves. Ex-convicts may also form large groups dedicated to destruction and chaos. Other groups may form around towns and villages. There isn’t a major organized government controlling large areas with a strong military to enforce their laws. However, Anarchy could devolve into this.
Like mentioned before, too much anarchy can cause the rise of totalitarianism. In total anarchy, there is nothing stopping a bunch of heavily armed people to take over other local governments until there is no more anarchy. The reason why perfect anarchy, or perfect totalitarianism doesn’t exist is because it’s far too easy to abuse them. Human nature does not allow for it. That is why all governments in all parts of the globe are a mixture of these two extremes. In totalitarian regimes, many collapse due to the oppression of the citizens. Whether this be high taxes, racial apartheid or class struggles, totalitarian regimes often collapse this way, primarily because the leaders of these nations become greedy or far too radical. Various examples include Cuba, when Bautista was ousted, the U. S. A. when America revolted against Britain and the Soviet and French Revolution.
The collapse of anarchy, or more-so the restoration of order, works in a similar way. When one group, armed or influential, gains enough power to take over other groups and establish stability and systems of law, this is the end of anarchy. There are not many examples of anarchy in modern civilization, except for the extremely independent lifestyles of humans living on the fringes of society, like those in the Arctic Circle or the jungles of the deep Amazon or African Rainforests. However, the best example would have to be the ‘Wild West. ’ The Wild West was a time period in which mass migration of populations into extremely isolated regions outpaced the speed of civilization. Many people and groups founded cities and towns in the hopes of creating a better life for their families. Others escaped civilization and order to continue a life of crime on the frontier. Soon however, the Wild West came to an end. Trains connected the continent, armies rolled through the deserts and plains and every town had a large police force. Anarchy may exist for a short amount of time, but it all ends when the people with the bigger and better guns catch up with it.
These two ideologies have had various experiments over the span of human history. Some have already been mentioned, others have not. With totalitarianism, humankind has almost always been governed this way. In our earliest civilizations like Mesopatamia, or the Indus River Valley, there has always been some sort of singular leader who, with the help of a clergy, crafted the laws of the land. This soon developed into caste systems, which in turn developed into feudalism. Feudalism sees the King, Emperor, Duke, Count and their female counterparts as the most dominant leader of the land. All throughout our medieval history, these institutions continued to drive europe towards the enlightenment period. Some feudal societies collapsed, others went on to give more power to the people, some even became great empires that still exist on Earth to this day. More modern examples of true totalitarianism are fascism and nazism, extreme ideologies based around giving everything in pursuit of the goals of the nation, as well as communism. A truly dystopian image is painted in George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in which the everyday lives of all citizens are controlled, monitored and manipulated.
There aren’t many examples of anarchy throughout history. As mentioned before, the Wild West was one of these periods but also the rise of pirates in the new world, as well as tribal civilizations throughout Europe and the world. There were even various political movements revolving around the idea that capitalism could not be abolished without also abolishing the state. One of the main groups that espoused this was the C. N. T F. A. I, Spanish anarchists operating during the Spanish Civil War.
In the end, there always has been, and always will be, a struggle between totalitarianism and freedom.
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