Genuine totalitarian regimes are impossible in modernized societies

Genuine totalitarian regimes are impossible in modernized societies
Opinion

7 November, 10:13
Сергей Белановский
Социолог
The more modernized society is, the stronger will be the erosion of propaganda and the shorter the historical period of totalitarian dictatorship.

Sergey Belanovsky, sociologist

In the 70s of the last century, Boris Grushin (famous Soviet and Russian sociologists, editor's note) conducted a large study of the media space in the city of Taganrog. The results are published in the form of a large book. Today this work is almost forgotten. Maybe right, because this is a completely different era. But there is something in it that remains relevant to this day.

Grushin found that the bulk of the Soviet population did not understand the newspaper language. Up to 80% of the respondents did not understand the meaning of such words as imperialism, Bundeswehr, NATO. Proceeding from this, Grushin concluded that in order to increase the effectiveness of propaganda, it is necessary to educate the masses accordingly. It is clear that in those days he could not draw any other conclusion.

From today's standpoint, we can draw a different conclusion. The meaning of these words was and, apparently, remains incomprehensible to most recipients, however, from the context, intonations and facial expressions, people understand that this is something evil, dangerous, aggressive. Monopoly propaganda works by influencing not consciousness, but pre-consciousness. Rational arguments that could resist propaganda are not perceived by the pre-consciousness.

An important question, to which there is no clear answer, is the following: does such propaganda wear out? Under the influence of what factors, in what time frame? Can a refrigerator resist propaganda, contribute to its gradual erosion? What determines the speed of this process?

It is obvious that the means of maintaining the effect of propaganda is terror. Karl Jaspers (famous German philosopher and psychologist of the twentieth century, - editor's note): "Complete stupor in the shackles of a totalitarian state stabilized by terror." An obvious example is North Korea.

But it seems to me that the stability of societies like North Korea, Maoist China, the Stalinist regime is connected with two factors: firstly, these regimes arose in countries with a predominance of the peasant population, secondly, and most importantly, they were formed in conditions of civil wars, when terror was normal. The institution of terror that arose in the course of civil wars became the state institution of the victors.

The regimes of Hitler and Mussolini are knocked out of this scheme, which must be considered separately.

From all this, I hypothesize that the formation of genuine totalitarian regimes in today's modernized societies is impossible. And those in the stage of modernization - perhaps only for a while, as in Iran, which, as I think, will nevertheless get rid of the mullahs who seized power.

I suppose that the more modernized society is, the stronger will be the erosion of propaganda and the shorter the historical period of totalitarian dictatorship. Hope I'm not mistaken.

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