POS 173 French Executive Structure & Parliamentary Executives Essay MLA FORMAT, 8 PAGES, DO NOT cite OUTSIDE SOURCES, can use online to help guide information.
Required text: Comparative Politics by Gregory S. Mahler, 6th Edition ISBN: 9781626377905 and Notes I will attach below.
How does the French executive structure compare with other parliamentary executives? What are the powers of the French president that are unusual for parliamentary heads of state? What are the president’s most unusual powers? Under what circumstances might this arrangement lead to a constitutional crisis or political paralysis?
Compose an essay in which you explore the relationship between political institutions and political leaders in China? In your estimation, do individuals have power because of the positions they hold, or do they hold certain positions because they control power? THE ESSENCE OF TOTALITARIANISM
Totalitarianism differs markedly from traditional authoritarian states where power is concentrated
in the hands of one or a few rulers. Most authoritarian leaders are content to exercise negative
powers; that is, they aim, above all, to prevent political opposition from taking shape. In a
curious way, this goal limits the aspirations and methods of traditional dictators. For example,
although authoritarian ruler seldom hesitate to use coercion, they typically target people who are
perceived as a direct threat to the existing order. Key social groups and economic interests are
often free to function without state interference. Independent institutions such as the church or
the business community are likely to exercise considerable influence in authoritarian systems.
Within totalitarian states, in contrast, violence against political enemies may assume the form of
indiscriminate, mass terror and genocide aimed at whole groups, categories, or classes of
people who are labeled enemies, counterrevolutionaries, spies or saboteurs. Even ordinary
citizens are expected to demonstrate their loyalty to the regime in a variety of ways and are
subject to tight surveillance. Mass mobilization for political and economic purposes is carried
out through a highly regimented and centralized one-party system dedicated to an
all-encompassing ideology. To disseminate this ideology, the state employs a propaganda and
censorship apparatus far more sophisticated and effective than that typically found in
authoritarian states. In sum, totalitarian governments aim at achieving total political, social, and
economic control. Complete domination of society is necessary because all totalitarian
ideologies proclaim the advent of a new and infinitely better commonwealth of humankind.
Historically, that commonwealth has taken various forms: the society of racially pure “Aryan”
supermen envisioned by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany; the proletarian brotherhood of
oppressed and downtrodden workers promised by the Soviet leaders V.I. Lenin and Joseph
Stalin; the new mass society of sturdy and selfless peasants fashioned in the poetic imagery of
China’s Mao Zedong. Whatever the specifics, the general vision of communitarian life conjured
up in totalitarian ideologies had been remarkably similar. All such totalitarian prophets have
exhibited a basic likeness in their determination to engender a higher and unprecedented kind
of human existence.
The ideal societies prophesied by totalitarian movements commonly exalt such values as
equality and community over liberty and individuality. At the heart of this harmonious
community lies the concept of a reformulated human nature. In totalitarian states, the wholesale
reconstruction of the human personality becomes the nonnegotiable price of admission into the
utopian society promised by the official ideology. This impulse to human perfection was
reflected in Lenin’s repeated references to the creation of a “new Soviet man” and in the Nazi
assertion that party workers and leaders represented a new type of people or a new breed of
“racially pure” rulers. Mao Zedong displayed a near obsession with what he termed rectification
– the radical purging of all capitalist tendencies (such as materialism and individualism) at all
levels of Chinese society. It is rather striking that all twentieth-century totalitarian movements
have sought to transform not only the outward appearance of society but also the innermost
character of society’s individual members.
Not even the most repressive totalitarian regime, however, has managed to accomplish these
transformations completely. In all totalitarian states, there have remained “islands of
separateness” the family, the church, and other social
institutions through which internal resistance to the prevailing government can survive. Not
even the extraordinarily totalitarian government of the fictional state of Oceania, described by
the British writer George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, managed to master its citizens totally
(although it came close enough to make for extraordinarily grim reading).
But if totalitarian states have not been especially successful in creating a “new man” or political
heaven on earth, they have had surprising success in silencing their opponents while carrying
out radically new programs. Totalitarian governments have understood that no new community
of fellow believers can survive in the midst of dissenters, deviants, skeptics, and enemies. To
them, it has not mattered that their goals, and the means adopted to achieve those goals, often
seem sharply at odds with reason and common sense. Nor has it made much difference to
them that many of their activities have violated the moral precepts held by most other nations.
Finally, it has not even mattered that people denounced as enemies of the state frequently were
either totally uninterested in politics or formerly praised as the most loyal supporters of the
regime. When the nation’s political goal is not merely to eliminate political opposition but also to
bring about a new, higher order of political life, are not extraordinary political measures justified?
From the totalitarian point of view, these measures represent the necessary price of any attempt
to bring about a utopian political order.
The clearest examples of such utopian political orders have been Nazi Germany, the Soviet
Union under Lenin and especially Stalin, and Maoist China. The nations have profoundly
influenced our age. Totalitarianism, however, has not been confined to these nations. The
political novelty of totalitarian regimes, along with their profound impact, has led some political
scientists to consider totalitarianism the most significant political development of the twentieth
THE REVOLUTIONARY STAGE OF TOTALITARIANISM
To understand the phenomenon of totalitarianism, we must explore both how it functions and
how it comes into being. In general, totalitarian states are conceived in violence and emerge
from the body politic of a regime that has collapsed and died. Almost always, there is
revolution. To be successful, the instigators of total revolution employ various methods and
tactics – specially, leadership, ideology, organization, propaganda, and violence.
Perhaps the most conspicuous trait of total revolution has been a reliance on what may be
termed the cult of leadership. Virtually every such revolution has been identified with – indeed,
personified in – the image of one larger-than-life figure. The Russian Revolution had its Lenin,
the Third Reich its Hitler, the Chinese Revolution its Mao, and Cuba its Castro. Each of these
leaders was made the object of hero worship.
Thus, although revolutions have invariably been launched in the name of the mases, the
initiative has always come from above. Their leaders long have recognized that the masses
alone possess the raw power to change the world but lack the will and direction. (For the
Bolsheviks, the missing ingredient was “class consciousness”; for the Nazis, it was “Volk – the
Aryan people’s – consciousness.”)
The inspiration and fanatical commitment to fuse a large number of self-interested individuals
into a revolutionary mass movement cannot come from a bloodless abstraction such as “the
party”; but it can come the personal dynamism of a charismatic leader who can read the minds,
capture the imagination, and win the hearts of the masses. (It is ironic that all modern mass
movements have emphasized the personality of the leaders while deemphasizing the
individuality of the followers.) A leader such as Lenin or Mao, then, is to a mass movement
what a detonator is to a bomb – no matter how powerful (or lethal) the explosive in a bomb
might be, it remains dormant and harmless until provided with an efficient trigger.
Whatever the quality of leadership, total revolutions depend in the final analysis on the
willingness of large numbers of converts to engage in extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice in the
name of the cause. Such reckless devotion cannot be inspired by appeals to the rational faculty
in human beings. It must arise, rather, from a believer’s blind faith in the absolute truth provided
by a comprehensive political doctrine.
The Need for Scapegoat: Reinterpreting the Past A critique of the past, ideology generally
focuses on some form of absolute evil to which all national (or worldwide) inadequacies and
social injustices can be attributed. To the revolutionary ideologue, the true causes of economic
recession, inflation, military defeat, official corruption, national humiliation, moral decadence,
and other perceived problems are rooted in the mysteries and plots of a rejected past.
Rarely is the absolute evil a disembodied force; almost always it assumes the form of a clearly
identifiable enemy. If such an enemy does not exist, one must be invented. Usually it has been
an individual or a group that was already widely feared, hated, or envied. Lenin blamed the
plight of workers on the money-grubbing capitalists. Hitler blamed the German loss in World
War I and the economic crises that preceded his assumption of power on Jews and
communists. Mao found his enemy first in wealthy landlords and later in “capitalist-roaders.”
Clearly, the purpose of these ploys was to focus mass attention on a readily identifiable
scapegoat, on whose shoulders all of the nation’s ills could be placed. In other words, mass
movements can rise and spread without a belief in God, but never without a belief in a devil.
Hate and prejudice, rather than love and high principle, are seemingly the most effective forces
in bringing people together in a common cause. The deliberate cultivation of a hate object not
only serves to focus blame for the injustices of the past but also helps to mobilize the masses
against the alleged cause of the miseries of the present.
Revolutionary Struggle: Explaining the Present As a guide to the present, ideology provides
the true believer with keys to a “correct” analysis of the underlying forces at work in
contemporary society. Concepts such as class struggle for Marxist-Leninists, Herrenvolk (the
“master race”) for the Nazis, and “contradictions” for Mao’s followers were used as tools to
explain and predict social reality. Yesterday the enemy was preeminent; today the enemy will
Advocates of total revolution believe that struggle is the very essence of politics. For
Marxist-Leninist, class struggle was the engine of progress in history. For Maoist, struggle was
a desirable end in itself; only through the direct experience of revolutionary struggle, they
believed, could the masses (and especially the young) learn the true meaning of self-sacrifice.
Hitler glorified the struggle for power by proclaiming war to be the supreme test of national
greatness. (Revealingly, Hitler outlined his own path to political power in a book/memoir titled
Mein Kampf, “my struggle.”)
Whether the aim is to overthrow monopoly capitalists or to purify a race, revolutionary struggle is
always described in terms of good versus evil. It was common for leading Nazis to depict Jews
not simply as enemies of the state but as Untermenschen (“subhumans”) and, frequently, as
insects or lice. Of course, the repeated use of such degrading characterizations eventually
serves to dehumanize the scapegoat group in the mass mind; it is easier to justify the
extermination of insects than of human beings.
Utopia: Foretelling the Future As a promise of the future, ideology tends to paint a radiant
picture of perfect justice and ever present peace. Marxist-Leninists envisioned this utopia as a
classless society, one from which all social and economic equality would be abolished. The
Nazi utopia was a society from which all racial “impurities” would be removed through the
extermination or enslavement of racial “inferiors.” Whatever its precise character, this
motivating vision invariably included the promise of material plenty stemming from the
redistribution of property from the haves to the have-nots. Marxism-Leninism promised to take
from the rich (the bourgeoisie) and give to the poor (the proletariat). Interestingly, Hitler made a
similar promise when he proclaimed his intention to provide Lebensraum (“living space”) in the
east; he would take land away from the land-rich but slothful Slavs and give it to the land-poor
but industrious Germans. Inherent in these visions of utopia is almost always an ironclad
guarantee of success in the struggle to achieve them. Thus, Marxism is based on a
deterministic world view (in the sense that the success of the proletarian revolution is dictated
by inflexible “laws” of history). Hitler, too, was an unabashed determinist. In Mein Kampf, he
wrote, “Man must realize that a fundamental law of necessity reigns throughout the whole ream
of Nature,” And throughout his public career, he spoke frequently of “the iron law of our
historical development,” the “march of history,” and the “inner logic of events.” Hitler, no less
than Lenin, Stalin, or Mao, claimed that he and the German Volk had a world-shattering mission
to accomplish and that success was inevitable. He expressed this notion in what is perhaps his
famous (or infamous) pronouncement: “I go the way that Providence dictates with the assurance
of a sleepwalker.”
Ideology and Truth The past, present, and future as described by a given revolutionary ideology
may seem far-fetched or even ludicrous to a disinterested observer. For example, the racial
theory promulgated by the Nazis utterly lacked historical, sociological, genetic, and moral
foundations. By the same token, the economic facet of Hitler’s ideology – the “socialism” in
National Socialism – was devoid of meaningful content. So watered down was Hitler’s
conception of socialism that anyone genuinely concerned about the people was in Hitler’s eyes
Why would anyone take such an ideology seriously? I would argue that there are perhaps three
reasons. First, it appealed to popular prejudices and made them respectable. Second, it was
not the message that counted so much as the messenger – the leader’s personal magnetism
attracted a following whether or not the words made sense. Third, certitude was far more
important than rectitude.
In the final analysis, successful ideologues can often get away with the most absurd
allegation and falsehoods if they also address real problems faced by the masses. Thus many
Germans recognized the extreme nature of the Nazis’ racial theories but probably believed that
such absurdities would be discarded by Hitler once the work of unifying the country, reviving the
economy, and restoring the nation’s lost honor had been accomplished By the same token, it is
doubtful that any but the most committed Bolsheviks believed that the workers’ paradise was
just around the corner, but the Russian people likely did believe in land reform, an end to
Russia’s disastrous involvement in World War I, and improvements in nutrition, medical care,
and education as promised by Lenin.
Ideology in total revolution cannot be implemented without sustained organization. Cohesive
structure was one of the missing ingredients in pre-twentieth-century rebellions. Most of the
outbreaks were spontaneous affairs; they burst into flame, occasionally spread, but almost
always burned themselves out. Thus a small, tightly knit group of professional revolutionaries
would be far more effective in the long run than a large, amorphous mass of unruly malcontents.
To ensure secrecy, discipline, and centralized control, Lenin organized the Bolshevik party
into tiny cells, later called primary party organizations. Each cell had a leader, dubbed a
secretary, who acted on orders or instructions from above. Ultimately, all important decisions on
strategy, tactics, and the “party line” were made by Lenin himself (though he claimed to speak in
the name of the party’s Central Committee). Having formed his faction, Lenin eventually placed
a formal ban on factionalism. Any Bolshevik who thereafter opposed the party line stood in
danger of being labeled a factionalist. Before the actual seizure of power in October 1917, the
penalty for dissent was frequently expulsion from the party; after 1917, revolutionary justice was
often less lenient. Factionalism was not tolerated; party members were expected to place party
interests above personal interests at all times. This spirit of self-sacrifice and total commitment
to the party was given a special label or name – partiinost, a term commonly used in the former
Soviet Union to denote the distinctive combination of intangible qualities (such as loyalty,
self-discipline, and revolutionary élan) that every party member was expected to exhibit.
In comparison with Lenin’s revolution, Mao’s took more than 20 years to achieve success and
involved many more people. Unlike its Russian counterpart, the Chinese Revolution was
primarily a rural phenomenon involving a mass of discontented peasants. Under these
circumstances, Mao’s most pressing organizational problem was to mold the peasants into an
effective military force capable of carrying out a protracted guerrilla war. His success in turning
an amorphous peasant mass into an effective fighting force I would argued seemed to offer
convincing proof that once organized, the poor and downtrodden could
overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. For this reason, Mao’s theory and practice of
peasant-based revolution have been regarded by many radicals (especially in developing
nations) as the guiding example of revolutionary organization in a rural society.
In contrast to Mao’s long, concerted struggle to achieve political power, Hitler’s attempts to
gain power in Germany followed an erratic course, swinging from a violent, abortive coup in
Munich in the early 1920 to a successful manipulation of the country’s constitutional system in
the 1930s. A compliant organization in the form of the Nazi party was crucial to Hitler’s ultimate
During his rise to power, Hitler made extensive use of brute force to intimidate his opposition,
but he also created numerous party-controlled clubs and associations. The Hitler Youth, a Nazi
women’s league, a Nazi workers’ organization, a Nazi student league, and various other
academic and social organizations gave the Nazis considerable political power even before
Hitler took over the reins of government. Later, through a policy called Gleichschaltung
(“coordination”), he destroyed virtually all preexisting social organizations and substituted Nazi
associations in their place. Partly for this reason, Hitler’s promises and threats carried great
weight throughout German society. Like all modern revolutionaries, Hitler understood the value
of a carefully constructed revolutionary organization.
As modern political life has extended its reach to more and more people, propaganda – the
broad dissemination of ideas and information deliberately tailored to further a political cause –
has become a potent political weapon. To be successful, as Hitler noted, propaganda must
address the masses exclusively; hence “its effect for the most part must be aimed at the
emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect.
An avid student of the science of propaganda, Hitler formulated several theorems about the
subject that still hold true today. To begin with, he postulated that “all propaganda must be
popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it
is addressed to.” Effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on
these slogans unt…
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