The concept of totalitarianism is used to describe a political system, which first appeared in Russia with the Bolshevik Revolution and the denial of individual rights and liberty. The term totalitarianism describes a system where the state holds complete authority and power over society and over every aspect of citizen’s lives. This suddenly appeared after World War One; however it began developing in the past years. During the twentieth-century economic and social instability in Europe and the disasters and devastation caused by the civil war in Russia, had terrible consequences such as unemployment and impoverishment. Established democracies such as the United States and Great Britain remained strong; however, in Germany, Italy and Russia a new form of government emerged known as totalitarianism.
The Soviet Union, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany were considered to be totalitarian states; these shared a number of similarities despite the rivalry that existed between them. Dictators who were glorified as heroes ruled these three countries; Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin came to power in their countries in a moment of social unrest. People all over Europe were suffering from hunger, and many at that time were dying, these people were looking for a ruler that would help them solve their problems and that would bring prosperity to their countries. This is where the perfect tool came into play in history, propaganda.
Propaganda became an essential branch of government during the twentieth-century as it helped to keep control over the people and win them over. Propaganda had total control over society. Books, newspapers, magazines and radio were completely influenced by the government and it decided what they wanted people to think and believe in. The state basically “manufactured thought” it made up new stories and manipulated opinions. There was no sense of the truth anymore. The power of the government over society was total. Totalitarian dictatorships extended their powers further, using their authority to completely reshape society. In their conquest to expand Russia, Italy and Germany came into conflict with the Western countries and set the stage for WWII.
The peace treaties at Versailles caused dissatisfaction among the Italian people and showed the weakness of the democratic government in Italy. Italian nationalists were angry and claimed portions of territory from the Central Powers. Unemployment struck Italy and the government was unable to solve their problems. All this events favored the rise of the Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini. Mussolini had socialist values and very radical views. In 1919 Italy was in chaos and on the verge of civil war, Mussolini formed a new political party called the Fascist party. The party believed in nationalism and the glorification of state with a single party system led by a strong ruler, unlike communism the fascists protected private property. Another factor that contributed to the rise of Mussolini and the establishment of a totalitarian state was the support of rich Italians, who feared communism. He promised to put an end to the unrest, protect private property and full employment. He wanted to restore Italy´s former greatness and bring his country the glory of ancient Rome. In 1992 after the “march on Rome” Mussolini was appointed Prime Minister by King Victor Emmanuel III and Italy became a totalitarian state under the Fascist party rule. The new prime minister rearranged the Italian government, he banned non-fascist parties and ordered his secret police the OVRA to stop, arrest and even kill any anti-fascist movement or anyone who opposed the party´s ideals. Mussolini, like any other dictator, controlled most of the population by manipulating mass media and using propaganda, he enforced totalitarianism by controlling the media to create a huge and powerful Italy with a prosperous economy.