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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01pz50gz42h
Title: TOTALITARIAN GOVERNMENTS AND THE THEORY OF POLITICAL RELIGION: A CASE STUDY OF ITALIAN FASCISM, GERMAN NATIONAL SOCIALISM, AND STALINIST COMMUNISM
Authors: Demissachew, Lydia
Advisors: Mueller, Jan-Werner
Department: Politics
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: Fascism, National Socialism, and Communism were ideologies were the basis for the creation of totalitarian regimes in the first part of the twentieth century. They not only represent ideologies, but a system of governance that was novel in the way that it used mass politics, terror and propaganda. The regimes that were established in Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union have many lessons for us to learn. One way to think of totalitarian governments is to see them as a type of “political” religion. This theory comes from the fact that there were highly exalted leaders, grandiose displays of power, and ceremonies that would lead one to make this comparison to religion. A prominent scholar on this theory of political religion is Emilio Gentile. I will be using his definition and testing it in the cases of Italian Fascism, German National Socialism, and the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. The four aspects of his definition are (1) the sacralization of a political entity so that it takes the function of being a source of meaning for one’s life, (2) subordination of competing religions or ideologies, (3) primacy of community over the individual, (4) use of violence as a means liquidating enemies and regenerating society. These characteristics of Gentile’s definition are manifest in each of the cases in varying degrees. I will propose that there was also a serious effort to indoctrinate all people of society to be sincerely devoted to the political beliefs of these governments, as is evidenced through the use of propaganda, indoctrination, and re-education efforts. I believe these efforts to change people’s way of thinking be more emphasized in our understanding of political religions.
Extent: 96 pages
URI: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01pz50gz42h
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Politics, 1927-2016

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