Stage 3: Censorship, Persecution, Propaganda, and the Ending of Opposition

In stage 3, the initial upheaval of stage 2 has passed. The old order has been fundamentally changed, and now various forces begin to react. The rising totalitarian government faces many enemies, often dubbed “counterrevolutionaries” or “extremists.” Here in its infancy, the new order must struggle to gain more power and maintain that which has been acquired. For this reason, it sets about combatting its enemies through censorship and persecution.

As soon as they had gained sway over their countries, the first move of totalitarians like Hitler and Vladimir Lenin was to censor opposition and put out propaganda. Each of these totalitarian leaders also gained control of education and had secret police forces to monitor and even kill anyone designated as an enemy. Another strategy was to establish youth organizations to indoctrinate citizens in the state’s propaganda from an early age and tear their loyalties away from family or religion. Religion was almost universally persecuted once these regimes came to power.

Finally, Hitler and Lenin outlawed (either de jure or de facto) all political parties and views besides their own after coming to power.1 Totalitarians create a one-party system that often maintains a façade of democracy.

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