HIST 121 Lecture Notes - Secret Police, Scientism, Chicken Coop

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Published on 16 Apr 2013
Department
Course
Professor
HIST121
18 March 2013
Reading(s): Camus, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky
Lecture 10: Totalitarianism/Existentialism
Totalitarianism
- Stalin, follower of Lenin: five year plans (1928), collectivization (1929-1940), the great
terror/purge (1936-1938)
- 10 million death toll
- collectivization doesn’t work in practice as on paper; decline in productivity; passive
resistance
- prison camps for oppositional thought
- 8 million arrested
- As a system, modern aspects:
o Cult-like leader, obedience + worship
o One-party state
Mass rallies, fake elections; channeled political inclinations
Judicial procedures, known outcome, sham liberal order
o Propaganda
Make dictators handsome, powerful, manly
God-like figures
Requires modernity; technology; microphones, radio, film clips, television
In order to indoctrinate the masses
o Terror
Good of the people projected as ideal; elimination of enemies beforehand
Instill fear in those who question authority
Secret police, summary execution, interrogation + torture
Importance of machineguns
o Technology
- Level of control over society that was impossible in the past; unlike previous
dictatorships
o Robespierre didn’t have the means that Hitler and Stalin did
o Aspire to total control over all aspects of human life; social, political, cultural,
artistic
- Totalitarian ideologies resembled the religions they tried to replace
o Aspire to more than politics; transformation of every aspect of human life; even
internal thoughts of the individual
Existentialism
- Questioned modernity, role of the individual and his/her fulfillment
o Predictions about modernity and its consequences; revolt against its modern
science worshipping form; in the name of the individual and his/her freedom
o Not liberal freedom/Marxist freedom; freedom to define oneself against the whole
world; own faith, fate, destiny
o Questions of religion
How to cope with loss of faith
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Document Summary

Stalin, follower of lenin: five year plans (1928), collectivization (1929-1940), the great terror/purge (1936-1938) 10 million death toll collectivization doesn"t work in practice as on paper; decline in productivity; passive resistance. As a system, modern aspects: cult-like leader, obedience + worship, one-party state. Mass rallies, fake elections; channeled political inclinations. Judicial procedures, known outcome, sham liberal order: propaganda. Requires modernity; technology; microphones, radio, film clips, television. In order to indoctrinate the masses: terror. Good of the people projected as ideal; elimination of enemies beforehand. Secret police, summary execution, interrogation + torture. Totalitarian ideologies resembled the religions they tried to replace: aspire to more than politics; transformation of every aspect of human life; even internal thoughts of the individual. How to cope with loss of faith. Concern with human freedom: crystal palace, constraint of the human will by technology and progress, rebellion against the crystal palace; underground man against rational egoism. Grand inquisitor as a symbol of modernity as a whole.

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