A friend sent me something that I have been thinking about a bit for a while.

Today’s survivors of Soviet communism are, in their way, our own Kolakovićes, warning us of a coming totalitarianism—a form of government that combines political authoritarianism with an ideology that seeks to control all aspects of life. This totalitarianism won’t look like the USSR’s. It’s not establishing itself through “hard” means like armed revolution, or enforcing itself with gulags. Rather, it exercises control, at least initially, in soft forms. This totalitarianism is therapeutic. It masks its hatred of dissenters from its utopian ideology in the guise of helping and healing. To grasp the threat of totalitarianism, it’s important to understand the difference between it and simple authoritarianism. Authoritarianism is what you have when the state monopolizes political control. That is mere dictatorship—bad, certainly, but totalitarianism is much worse. According to Hannah Arendt, the foremost scholar of totalitarianism, a totalitarian society is one in which an ideology seeks to displace all prior traditions and institutions, with the goal of bringing all aspects of society under control of that ideology. A totalitarian state is one that aspires to nothing less than defining and controlling reality. Truth is whatever the rulers decide it is. As Arendt has written, wherever totalitarianism has ruled, “[I]t has begun to destroy the essence of man.”2 As part of its quest to define reality, a totalitarian state seeks not just to control your actions but also your thoughts and emotions. The ideal subject of a totalitarian state is someone who has learned to love Big Brother.