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Era of Totalitarianism - Essay Example

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Era of Totalitarianism

All these totalitarian regimes consequently took monumental toll, with millions of people perishing and suffering under the insistence of the political party in power to regulate and dictate all facets of economic, social and even spiritual aspects of human existence. The mobilizing power of the totalitarian regimes, their ability to foster mass movements was based on extreme interpretations of the ideologies of Marx and Nietzsche.
Both Marx and Nietzsche lived during a time in the 19th century when science was on the rise and religion was on a decline as the guidepost in matters of human progress and direction. The inward aspects of human existence, the spiritual aspects were seemingly irrelevant with the unprecedented economic progress as can be seen in the West, that was albeit accompanied by the marginalization of certain sectors of society (the toiling, labor classes of Marx) as well as corruption and decadence (the nihilism, the weaknesses engendered by the Christian religion1) as observed by Nietzsche. Both philosophers stressed the ability of mankind to change their reality, Marx in his deterministic belief that the workers rise to power is inevitable and in Nietzsche's trumpeting of the morality of the master over the slave. The historical determinism of Marx and the infinite call to power of the individual with no boundaries in Nietzsche's ideas were potent brews that combined to foster the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.
Marx, whose ideas led to left-wing totalitarianism turned Hegel's dialectics on its head, converting the latter's predominance of ideas over reality to that of the material determining ideas of reality. For Marx, man is determined by his material or economic needs, forming superstructure for which social, moral and spiritual norms are erected. If mankind could take control of his economic life, and revolutionize it so that the workers will own the fruits of their labor, then all the other aspects of life could be wiped out clean, with oppressive relations disappearing and the mankind living in communal bliss. Far from blissful, the followers of Marx took cue on the deterministic flavor of his ideology from which the communist party became rather an organ of repression of dissent and of oppression in the dogmatic insistence on the interpretation of what constitutes and what will constitute reality. Nietzsche's ideas on the will to power and master morality on the other hand, were the Nazis' ticket to avenge Germany's humiliation after World War I. Morally relativistic, Nietzsche on the one hand when seem in a good light enjoins man to freedom, the creation of what one sees as fit for his life, without the encumbrances of societal traditions. But if used by a group or party out for political power, it had the most fantastic consequences where a nation could be made to believe that one's race is superior and consequently others are inferior - with the resulting Holocaust that killed millions of Jews in the altar of Aryanism. ...Show more

Summary

Karl Marx, the acknowledged father of communism and Friedrich Nietzsche, of the Ubermensch (Superman) mentality were the two foremost philosophers who paved the way for the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Unlike other philosophers, whose influence swayed only the individual, inward mindsets of their disciples at best - the ideas of Marx and Nietzsche fostered massive social and economic revolutions across the globe that were the hallmarks of the 20th century…
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