chapter  2
13 Pages

‘Totalitarianism’ or plain tyranny?

WithAlan Haworth

This chapter describes the suitability of political taxonomy as an approach to the understanding of totalitarianism. In the general studies concerned with man and society, totalitarianism is the most perplexing problem of our time. It has burst upon mankind more or less unexpected and unannounced. In the case of C. J. Friedrich’s treatment of totalitarianism, one way in which the tendency to think taxonomically shows up is in his argument that, ‘fascist and Communist totalitarian society are basically alike that is to say are more nearly alike to each other than to any other systems of government and society’. Friedrich’s assumption could turn out to be right, of course. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s was one of the twentieth century’s most influential contributions to philosophy. Wittgenstein held that philosophical problems arise when the way words are used in everyday contexts is misconstrued.