Difference Between Totalitarianism and Dictatorship

Totalitarianism is a political notion in which the state, as well as all citizens in society, both public and private, are monitored, controlled, and governed by the political party in power.


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However, Dictatorship is an autocratic form of government. The military, judiciary, civilians, and even government are all under the control of a single person in this type of society.

Totalitarianism vs Dictatorship

The difference between totalitarianism and dictatorship is that Totalitarianism is a political notion in which the state, as well as every public and private individual in society, is monitored, controlled, and governed by the political party in power. However, in terms of government, dictatorship is an autocratic idea. The military, judges, civilians, and even the government are all under the sway of a single person in this type of regime.

Totalitarianism vs Dictatorship

In totalitarianism, laws and regulations are enacted, and citizens and civic institutions are obligated to obey the laws enacted by the ruling party.

Totalitarianism’s governance is founded on ideas associated with a dominant political philosophy. The will of the ruling party, or the party in power, is frequently reflected in the concept of totalitarian governance.

There are no such legal laws or regulations in the Dictatorship idea of governance. The words of the ruler or dictator, on the other hand, are held in such high regard that everyone must obey them.

Dictatorship is not founded on hegemonic political beliefs. However, the concept could be based on any belief. The dictator’s will is mirrored in the concept of dictatorial governance.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTotalitarianismDictatorship
OrdersGiven by ruling partyGiven by the Dictator
Will reflectionOf ruling party
Of an individual/dictator
Ruling party Is made by the ruling partyNo rules and regulations exist
Political IdeologiesPolitical ideologiesMay or may not be based on political ideologies.
ExamplesIran, North Korea and China.Some famous dictators- Fidel Castro, Idi Amin, Hitler

What is Totalitarianism?

Totalitarianism is a political notion in which the state, as well as every citizen in society, both public and private, is monitored, controlled, and governed by the political party in power.

Under the concept of governance of Totalitarianism, loyalty is unquestioned to the state. However, by the government, it is considered sacrosanct. The same is done by most of the countrymen and ruling party as well.

In this concept, the ideologies of the state and the ruling party are almost considered the same. In the concept of totalitarian governance, the will of the governing party, or the party in power, is usually reflected.

The regimes of the totalitarian government implement the laws in a highly ruthless manner. Moreover, this kind of government is aggressively nationalistic.

Some of the examples of Totalitarianism government that could be witnessed in history are, communist rule which existed in Cambodia and the Soviet Union, Nazi rule existed in Germany.

Apart from that, In the present day context, countries like Iran, China and North Korea witness the Totalitarianism form of government.

What is Dictatorship?

Dictatorship is an autocratic idea in the government system. In the Dictatorship form of governance, any citizen if goes against the laws or words of the dictator and disobeys them is being eliminated either mentally or physically.

The power is given to the dictator by a variety of means, like an emergency, hereditary, electric, military coup, etc.

However, the dictator also experiences fear of losing his kingdom or territory to any other potential competitor. The potential competitor ought to be ambitious, powerful and brutal; which makes the dictator even more barbaric and crueller.

In this system, power is concentrated in the hands of a single individual who is known to have control over the military, courts, civilians, and even the government.

A set of people are always there to support the dictator, like powerful businessmen and highly manipulative People from abroad. Some examples of famous dictators ever existed in history are Idi Amin, Hitler, Muammar Gaddafi, Mobutu Sese Seko, etc.

Main Differences Between Totalitarianism and Dictatorship

  1. Totalitarianism is a concept that is based on political ideas where the state, every citizen in the society, both public and private is monitored, controlled and governed by that political party that retains power. On the other hand, Dictatorship is a concept that is autocratic in the system of governance. In this type of system, the power is centralised to a single person who is known to have control over the military, judiciary, citizens and even government.
  2. In the case of Totalitarianism, laws and regulations are formed, and the citizens along with all the civil institutions are bound to follow the laws made by the party holding power and governance. On the other hand, In the Dictatorship concept of governance, no such rules and regulations of law exist. However, the words of the person in power or the dictator are considered so important that everybody is bound to obey them.
  3. The governance of Totalitarianism is particularly based upon the concepts related to a political ideology that is hegemonic in characteristic. On the other hand, the concept of dictatorship generally is not based upon any type of political ideologies which are hegemonic. However, there is a fair chance that the concept may be based upon any kind of ideology as well.
  4. In the concept of the governance of Totalitarianism, the reflection of the will of the ruling party, or the party which is in power usually occurs. On the other hand, in the case of the concept of the governance of dictatorship, the will of an individual or the dictator is being reflected.
  5. In the case of Totalitarianism form of governance, the control is being taken and done by the party only. However, everything is portrayed as if the control is being established by the whole state. On the other hand, the governance of dictatorship does not take into consideration the consent of any layman. Here the power acquisition is the main motive and everyone is forced to follow the orders of the dictator.
  6. The scope of the concept of Totalitarianism is centred on the government. On the other hand, the scope of the concept of Dictatorship is centred on absolute power.
  7. Totalitarianism form of governance the authority of power is retained with the party in power. On the other hand, the absolute power is retained with the dictator which is an individual.


  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/world-politics/article/dictator-and-totalitarianism/73BD673F797F42B38249026F0733DEDC
  2. https://scholars.ln.edu.hk/en/publications/dictatorship-in-history-and-theory-bonapartism-caesarism-and-tota
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