Nicolae Mihai: In totalitarian regimes, citizens no longer enjoy rights and freedoms

In totalitarian regimes, the church becomes an institution under attack, whereas military parades have threatening and warlike accents, Romanian historian Nicolae Mihai stated in a public debate hosted by IPN News Agency. According to him, the military parades of the Soviet period and those of the Putin regime are meant to demonstrate the military strength of the USSR and Russia, respectively, and to induce a feeling of fear.

The historian noted that totalitarian regimes are those that suppress the democratic rights and freedoms and strictly plan all the areas of public and private life of the citizens, using coercion. Totalitarian regimes are those where the power belongs to a single person or a small group of people, the church being annihilated or totally subdued.

“In totalitarian regimes, the ruler becomes God. God no longer exists theologically. The church becomes an institution that is attacked and pushed aside, destroyed by totalitarian regimes, including communism, when it is not controlled. The church hierarchy can be controlled by the intelligence services, as it happened in Russia. The ruler becomes the new God and even the new Zeus. He is the top character, the most important actor. In festive practices, the greatest silhouette is of the leader, Stalin. It’s similar in the case of Hitler. Unlike democratic regimes, here we are no longer dealing with citizens. It goes to control and control is exercised over a table, which is given a kind of alphabet of what it needs to understand, and only that is the register of meaning that works. The rest of the elements are gradually removed, even from memory. The role of festive practices, whether it is May 9 or the Day of the Bolshevik Revolution, is to eliminate from the collective memory any reference to the old regimes, replacing them with new references,” said Nicolae Mihai, Ph.D. of history.

According to the historian, fear is the most useful tool of totalitarian regimes, like the cult of personality is. They are both induced by propaganda. All the festive events with elements of enthusiasm and euphoria in totalitarian states represent a screen of atrocities and gloomy reality.

“Fear is important. The people, even when they gather together to rejoice, are often prompted by fear. The citizen in totalitarian regimes no longer enjoys rights and freedoms. The citizen is at the disposal of the state and state intrusion into the private space occurs at any time, with full force. For totalitarian regimes, the excess of propaganda and the festive register are meant to cover a historical reality that has tragic and negative contours,” said the Romanian historian.

According to him, the element of the military parade is also found in democratic regimes, but, in a democracy, this is not threatening and warlike. On the other hand, the military parades in Moscow are meant to present to the world the grandeur of Russia and induce a sense of fear.

“There is a major difference between democratic regimes and those with authoritarian status, including what is happening in Russia. The difference is that festive registers work differently. In France, on July 14, when it is celebrated France’s national holiday, the military presence is accepted and there is a military component, but nowhere is seen any bellicose, threatening intention of France towards any neighbor or its former colonies. If we look at what is happening in the Russian space, in the parades in Moscow we see an exacerbation of the military part, which permanently implies that Russia is still a colossus that can crush the world and whoever messes with Russia will suffer,” said the doctor of history of “C. S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor” Institute for Social Studies and Humanities” based in Craiova, Romania.

The public debate entitled “Festive practices and identity engineering in (post)totalitarian regimes” was the 37th edition of the series “Impact of the past on confidence and peace building processes”. The project is supported by the German “Hanns Seidel” Foundation.

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