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TOTALITARIANISM, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
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TOTALITARIANISM, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
POLICY CASE STATEMENT
One of our most important priorities at the World Future Fund is to try to make democracy work. We back up this commitment with concrete programs. Our Global Indicators Project defines key issues and shows ordinary citizens how they can get educated and get involved in non-violent, positive actions to work for change. Our Global Education Project provides educational material to educate people about other cultures and religions so that different cultures can find a means to come together and work for needed goals.
However, the thirteen years we have spent studying global indicators reveal realities that cannot be avoided. There is a widening gap between what is needed to build a sustainable global future and the response of today's global political world order. This gap illustrates a disconnect between political policy and global realities that is going to have very grim consequences if changes do not take place.
The time needed to implement these changes is running out. It is not realistic to expect that the gathering storm of global problems will leave the current political structure of the world intact. Quite the contrary, there is every reason to believe that the continued failure of the current system to deal with global problems will have huge political consequences, as have all great crises in history. Parliamentary democracy as we know it could very well self destruct in our time just as it did in ancient Athens and Rome.
This is why it is important understand the political forces that could emerge to threaten and potentially supercede democracy in key areas of the world. In order to understand the future, there is a need to understand the past. We have looked into the past for wisdom to see into the world political future. What we have found is very important. We have found that the modern totalitarian political structures have deep roots in world history - going back into ancient times. We have found that these roots are based on highly sophisticated systems of intellectual political theory in both the ancient east and west. We have also found that democracies' roots in ancient Greece and Rome were far more fragile than most believe. In light of all these realities it is only prudent to study the intellectual foundations and the historical record of totalitarianism.
In almost all periods of great crisis there is a concentration of political power at the top. Centralized dictatorial power, however, is not always the same thing as totalitarianism The exact definition of the term, "totalitarianism", has long been a subject of endless debates among scholars. We certainly do not pretend to have the last word here but we have found the following definition useful. Totalitarianism is a political system where the state tries to control almost all aspects of society. Totalitarianism tries to create well organized programs of propaganda to motivate people to support the system and sets up systems of political persecution to crush those who might resist. Totalitarianism generally justifies its huge centralization of power at the top in terms both the alleged severity of threats facing society and alleged utopian visions of the future that is supposed to be produced by the ruling regime. Totalitarianism often uses religion to define itself as the manifestation of supernatural power on earth and very frequently creates a cult of personality around a supreme leader, who is either presented as a prophet of God or an actual living god on earth.
Democracy does not take place in a vacuum. Nor is it ordained by divine right to last forever. It can only exist when a critical mass of a nation's citizens agree to assume responsibility for governing themselves. It can only exist when government policies are adopted that lay the foundation for a sustainable future. It is absolutely essential to study the potential global political implications of today's unsustainable policies. Our Global Totalitarian Research Project is very specifically designed to achieve this goal.
ANCIENT ROOTS OF TOTALITARIAN IDEOLOGIES
The term totalitarianism was invented by Mussolini but the philosophy it represents is actually thousands of years old. The centralization of political power and control of citizens by an authoritarian state are political trends that date back to the dawn of history.
In the ancient world, in both the east and the west, totalitarianism evolved into highly elaborate systems of philosophy, from Plato's views in the "Republic" to the ideas of Lord Shang in ancient China to the very detailed plans for totalitarian rule described by Kautilya in ancient India.
There about 5000 years of recorded history starting with the creation of the Old Kingdom in Egypt in 3000 B.C.. For almost all those 5000 years authoritarian rule has been the norm of the human condition. The past can and does relate to the future. This is why it is important to study the past. Thus, the study of authoritarian rule is not a matter of opinion. It is a necessity. Indeed, it represents the overwhelming majority of world history.
THE REAWAKENING OF HISTORY: THE SHATTERING OF ILLUSIONS IN THE 1990'S
In the 1990's a false complacency settled over the world. The pathetic collapse of one form of modern totalitarianism, communism, led to a lot of unrealistic illusions about the future. We were living in a "new economy". World trade would lead to world peace. Somebody even wrote a bestselling book suggesting that things were so great that history was now "over". U.S. President Bill Clinton went to World Com headquarters and hailed the company as the wave of the future.
Today, World Com has been exposed as the architect of the biggest corporate fraud in American history. The American economic bubble has burst. Violence and war again stalk the world. Even more disturbing is the fact that most of the world's major environmental indicators continued their downtrend in the 1990's in spite of the short-lived euphoria on Wall Street and in Washington. Still more problems emerged in the field of economics. While the 1990's bubble produced a sort of global upper class, wages remained in sorry shape for all too many people. American wages remain back where they were in the 1960's. Mexican wages are actually 50% below where they were in the 1970's, and Brazil's also declined. In many African countries conditions are actually worse than they were in the 1950's.
On September 11, 2001 a lot of the popular illusions about the future were reduced to rubble along with the towers of the World Trade Center. Since then the pace of violence around the world has accelerated. India and Pakistan nearly had a nuclear war in early 2002. Violence in Israel has reached record levels. In 2003 American invaded and conquered Iraq. In the Congo three million people have been slaughtered in the last few years in the bloodiest war in modern African history. Happy talk from the 1990's about the "democratic peace" now seems a grim laughing stock.
While a lot of the delusions of the last ten years have largely been exposed for the utter idiocy that they were, their unhappy consequences remain. Investors who believed in the fairy tale predictions of the Wall Street "experts" have lost trillions of dollars of their life savings.
More disturbing has been the neglect of the study of world intellectual history that took place in the 1990's when it was automatically assumed that America's systems of politics and economics represented some sort of final "New World Order". Voltaire once correctly observed that the "Holy Roman Empire" of his day was neither "holy", "Roman" nor an "empire". Sadly, the "New World Order" of the 1990's turned out to be neither "new" nor "orderly". Unlike, the "Holy Roman Empire" which lasted 1000 years, this "Order" is already falling apart into disorder after a mere few years. Indeed, it may be that the last ten years have been a "democracy bubble" as much as a financial "bubble" in the long term reality of history.
Chou en Lai was once asked what he thought of the French Revolution. It happened so recently he said, that it was too soon to tell.
Unfortunately, there has been little thought given to what might replace the current system if things keep going downhill. The study of totalitarianism was largely neglected in the last ten years. Right now there is no well-organized web site set up for the study of totalitarianism throughout history. In fact, there is no book on totalitarianism throughout history. We intend to fill that gap.
LESSONS FROM THE ANCIENT WORLD:
Obviously, just as Neo-Classical architecture in the modern west has some differences with the original creations of Greece and Rome, so too does modern parliamentary democracy have some differences with its original models. However, the ultimate failure of both these ancient systems contains lessons that relate to our world order today. In both those societies it ruled for relatively short periods of time and ended up committing political suicide. It is a matter of the highest importance that we go back to ancient Greece and Rome to see if we could be headed for a similar fate. It is equally important to study the intellectual evolution of ancient Greece and Rome so that we can see what might emerge in a post-democratic world.
Pericles and his imperialist foreign policies led Athens into such a national catastrophe that democracy was largely discredited in the ancient Greek world. None of the great minds of Greece that followed Pericles, such as Socrates, Aristotle, Thucydides, Xenophon and Plato, saw him any kind of hero. (Socrates even ridiculed him as a "pastry cook". ) The "cult of Pericles" is an invention of the modern western world over 2000 years after he led Athens into ruin and disaster. Furthermore, Athens was never a major world power like Persia. It was Alexander the Great who made Greece a world power, and he despised Athenian democracy. (Aristotle was Alexander's tutor.) Indeed, Athens actually supported Persia during Alexander's campaign for world empire. The New Testament was written in Greek. It is an example of how democracy had been consigned to the rubbish heap of Greek history that the word "democracy" is not even mentioned in the entire work.
THE HELLENISTIC GREEK WORLD
The empire of Alexander marked the transition of ancient Greece from the Classical to the Hellenistic era. In this era two giant empires dominated the Greek world, the Ptolemaic Empire, whose key possession was ancient Egypt, and the Seleucid Empire, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the borders of India. The political mentality of this empire can be seen in some of the quotes we have assembled from Plato and Aristotle. These quotes speak for themselves in terms of their totally anti-democratic point of view.
Unlike ancient Athens the Roman Republic did become a major world power. However, this was hardly a happy story. The Roman Republic was one of the most brutal imperialist regimes ever seen. Most of the "Empire" was conquered by the Republic. The Roman Republic set up the largest and most brutal human slave trade ever seen until the Anglo-American slave trade of modern times.
Unfortunately, military conquest abroad did not bring peace at home. The huge influx of foreign wealth led to violent class warfare, culminating in a series of appalling bloody civil wars. After Augustus established the Empire in 40 B.C., parliamentary democracy had so little credibility that it largely disappeared for almost 1,700 years as a serious political force in the west and did not come back into favor until the eighteenth century.
LESSONS FROM THE ANCIENT WORLD:
During the third century B.C. there was a global trend in the ancient world towards totalitarianism. This was particularly evident in China where the state of Chin (considered the Sparta of ancient China) created the first Chinese Empire. This state was based on some of the most ruthless political theories of totalitarian political control that the world has ever seen, the theory of legalism. Chinese political theory ever since has been a fusion of Legalism and Confucianism, particularly as developed by Emperor Wu Ti, the Chinese Emperor whose armies reached all the way to ancient Afghanistan and opened up the ancient "Silk Road". Legalist texts are not widely available in English but we do have a list on our web. We also have the only western copy of the Book of Lord Shang, the key legalist text. (This text is in Chinese.)
LESSONS FROM THE ANCIENT WORLD:
Meanwhile, the first major empire in India was being created by Emperor Chandrgupta I. This is a state that would have truly warmed the heart of Joseph Stalin or other modern experts on the totalitarian control of society. The political master plan for this society is outlined in a very detailed book by Kautilya, the Emperor's Prime Minister called the Arthashastra. Systems for setting up a secret police and other agencies familiar to modern tyrannies are discussed in minute detail.
A particularly grim aspect of ancient India was the racial caste system described in the ancient Book of Manu. It is not an accident that Hitler and Himmler saw in ancient India a model for their plans for Europe. It is also not an accident that Arthur de Gobineau, the intellectual founder of modern racism, used ancient India as the model for his ideas.
THE MODERN REBIRTH OF PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY
Parliamentary democracy was reborn in the late eighteenth century and nineteenth century in Europe, being based on idealized versions of ancient Greece and Rome. It almost collapsed in the next century under the challenges of fascism and communism. Today, the disastrous failure of communism has created a vacuum which is presently being filled by capitalism and parliamentary democracy.
The key question is the future of this "new world order". Will this system self destruct in our time as it did in the ancient world?
THE CRISIS OF MODERN PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY
The problems created by our world system today are far more serious than those faced by ancient Greece and Rome. Neither of these states created a system that threatens the biological foundations of all life on the planet. The dimensions of the crisis can be seen in our World Situation Report and in Global Indicators Project. Some key specific charts can be seen by clicking here. Power can be a double-edged sword. The current "triumph" of parliamentary democracy could well become its funeral wreath if it cannot reform itself.
The goal of our organization is to try to educate leaders about how to reform the current system to deal with global problems, which is the key point of our Indicators Project. We are particularly interested in encouraging people to make democracy work as is shown in our non-partisan, educational guide for citizen action. However, the magnitude of the current crisis and the dimensions of the political failure to deal with it over the last 50 years have to be taken into account. It would be foolish in the extreme to believe that the modern world system rules by some sort of divine right. In both Greece and Rome the suicide of democracy led to the rise of authoritarianism. In our time the rules of history will again assert themselves if the political power structure fails to reform itself. It is a fantasy to believe that parliamentary democracy will survive if it cannot deal with global problems. Totalitarianism will not only be imposed from above, it will be demanded from below.
Today's gathering storm will create a period where essential concepts of political philosophy will again become open to public debate. Ideas from the past will be used to control the future. Thus, it is important to see the whole picture of political philosophy - rather than looking through the very narrow lens of the post Cold War concept that that history is now "over" due to the "permanent triumph" of parliamentary democracy.
THE DEADLOCK OF MODERN DEMOCRACY
In the developed nations, ignorance, complacency, apathy and political gridlock have paralyzed long-term reforms, such as the development of safe, renewable energy technologies or systems of agriculture that do not require draining the world’s limited underground water supplies and using of vast amounts of dangerous chemicals.
Indeed, in America, for example, there are actually popular political movements that seek to increase gridlock by balkanizing political power. These movements attack what is an already small American government (by global standards) (see chart) and they attempt to turn over national problems to the states (which currently are in the worst financial shape in modern times..
The longer reform is postponed, the greater the reaction could be in the opposite direction. Hitler gained power because he promised to end the gridlock of the Weimar Republic. The huge popularity of people such as Hitler and Napoleon (as well as Augustus Caesar) shows that the people will welcome leaders who promise to sweep away democracy in order to deal with crises.
Failed democracies have been and will be torn down by the very people they claim to "represent". A silent crisis in today’s democracies is the growing (and well justified) popular belief that the system is not working. We urge people, via our indicators project, to participate in the process, as noted before on our citizen education page. However, nature will not tolerate a political vacuum. If reform cannot come inside the current political system, the system itself will collapse and be replaced by a more authoritarian system.
DEMOCRACY AND TERRORISM
The availability of weapons of mass destruction to terrorists presents yet another critical challenge to today's democracies. The proliferation of WMDs will now enable private sector groups to unleash levels of mass murder and devastation that previously were only the domain of major world powers. This "privatization" of mass murder is one truly "new" idea of the "New World Order". It seems to be connected to "faith-based" initiatives such as the attack on America on September 11 or the various suicide bombings in places like Israel or Sri Lanka. . All this is going to fuel still further the demand for state power. For example, a biological terror attack could spark an epidemic that could kill millions. The very threat would be a justification for the most severe forms of social control.
THE NEED FOR CENTRALIZATION
Finding solutions to today’s daunting global environmental and social problems will require a massive centralization of power. This is hardly a unique observation. Crises have always required such solutions. Global environmental problems require an even higher level of centralized power and international cooperation than ever before due to their nature.
The key question is the manner in which government power is going to be concentrated. Will it be done in an orderly, humane and responsible manner? Or could we replay such events as the Holocaust, Stalin's Gulag Archipelago or Mao's "Great Leap Forward", which we now know killed over 40 million Chinese citizens under appalling circumstances? We have already had recent holocausts such as the mass murder of one million people in Rwanda and the mayhem in that took place in the former Yugoslavia as democracy unleashed the forces of racism and violence that had been kept in check by the dictatorship of Tito.
RELIGION AND TOTALITARIANISM IN TODAY'S WORLD
It has been said that there are no atheists in the trenches during a war. In our time the growing awareness of the seriousness of the world situation has led to a veritable boom in religion. Unfortunately, the neglect of religion in the first 50 years of the last century has led to levels of religious ignorance that are being dangerously exploited by various forces claiming to be "fundamentalist". Such forces have great appeal. Most people want to do the right thing. The idea of coming closer to God and God's power by means of religious purity is a noble cause but a cause that can end up being manipulated by malevolent or insane forces.
A very likely event is the fusion of totalitarianism with religion. In the study of Nazi Germany too little attention has been paid to the religious aspects of the regime. Hitler himself defined Nazism as a religion. The exact details of this new religion were kept deliberately ambiguous in certain areas so as not to offend powerful church interests in Germany. However, on a number of points Hitler was very specific. He openly proclaimed himself to be an agent of God on earth. The views of Luther, Pope Innocent III and others were used to justify the persecution of the Jews. Himmler went much farther, laying the groundwork for the total replacement of Christianity by a new form of German paganism.
What is needed is education about religion. It is crucial that people understand what the real "fundamentals" about their faith are. It is also crucial that they correctly understand other faiths so that religious conflicts do not tear our planet apart. This is why we have created our global education project. Unfortunately, the coverage of religion in the western mass media can only be considered a total disaster. Few things are more troubling than the abuse of the term "fundamentalist". In reality, many key "fundamentalist" factions in world religious politics today are anything but "fundamentalist". A key part of the American "religious" right is made of the Assemblies of God, a denomination that did even exist until the twentieth century and was until recently denounced as a bunch of heretics by more established conservative religious groups like the Baptists. In Islam, the Shiites of Iran have long been regarded as heretics by Islamic conservatives.
To understand religion and politics it is necessary to understand theology and history. Furthermore, in the non-western world it is very important to be able to read foreign languages since many radical movements deliberately tone down their messages for the foreign, English language audiences.
A key part of our study is to educate people who might be vulnerable to the message of destructive religious forces so they can understand the realities of their own faith and its history. In our interviews with many radical religious young people around the world, we have been shocked by their truly appalling ignorance of their own religious history as well as the tendency to believe in a lot of totally nonexistent "facts" in their history. Sadly, this is just as true in the "free" west as in the world of Islam.
We also want to try to educate people about common values shared by all religions. We post a reading list on global religion and a set of global religion links. Unless there is greater harmony among religions, there will not be a consensus for global reform.
TOTALITARIANISM IN A HIGH TECH, MULTIMEDIA WORLD
Technology has no morality. It is only a means to an end. As the "dot coms" continue to disappear into oblivion along with the life savings of those who saw them as the "New Economy", there hopefully will be one positive aspect of this tragedy, an end to mindless faith in technology as an inevitable force of good. It's hard to believe that some "experts" had even predicted that the "dot coms" would actually replace the governments of the world!
Technology will increase the hypnotic power of charismatic leaders and will also enable levels of political control virtually unprecedented in history. There is a lot of truth to Albert Speer's observation that a key difference of Hitler's regime to those of the past was the role of technology. Indeed, Hitler was the ultimate "high tech", "multimedia" politician. TV was first used in the 1936 Nazi Olympics. Without the invention of the loudspeaker, mass rallies like Nuremburg would have been impossible. Not since Augustus Caesar had there been such a total orchestration of technology, media, art and music for political purposes.
People such as Hitler have very magnetic personalities. In our time, with television and 24-hour video and audio on demand (even for computers not on broadband) they will be able to emotionally connect to millions of people in a manner unprecedented in history.
Today, the internet and global TV enable the communication of ideas on a scale never before seen in history. The internet, in particular, will enable ideas to be communicated on a scale beyond human imagination in the past. This means that a small, well organized group will be able to expand at a far faster pace than before. A giant political upheaval could take place far faster, particularly in light of both public apathy and low public confidence in the status quo.
Too many Americans have had the comforting thought that totalitarianism can only come to power by force and only stays in power by force. In reality, world politics is much more fluid situation. Failed democracies have been and will be torn down by the very people they claim to "represent". Hitler was without a doubt the most popular leader of all time inside his own country, and he came to power in free elections. Stalin's show trials were immensely popular among many Russians. The three largest free elections of all time were won by the BJP Party in India, a radical nationalist organization that has plunged south Asia into a thermonuclear arms race.
What is particularly disturbing is that all around the world radical groups are gaining power. In Palestine opinion polls show huge public support for the suicide bombers. In key European nations far right politicians are gaining power. In Japan, the most prominent nationalist leader is now Governor of Tokyo and recently won reelection in a landslide.
On September 11, 2001 a lot of the popular illusions about the future were reduced to rubble along with the towers of the World Trade Center. Since then the pace of violence around the world has accelerated. India and Pakistan nearly had a nuclear war in early 2002. Violence in Israel has reached record levels. In 2003 American invaded and conquered Iraq. Three million people have been slaughtered in the Congo in the last few years. Happy talk from the 1990's about the "democratic peace" now seems a grim laughing stock.
Democracy does not just "happen". Nor is it ordained by divine right. It can only take place where a significant critical mass of a nation's people is willing to take the time to serve as citizens to govern themselves. The purpose of our Indicators Project is to provide nonpartisan educational information to show people how to participate in democracy. We urge all the people of the world to try to participate in a nonviolent constructive manner in their democracies.
However, we face problems far greater than those of ancient Athens and ancient Rome. The failure of their political systems should serve as a warning to us. History is a dynamic process. It is not static. Today, we enjoy the benefits of global environmental policies that have borrowed from the future and are not sustainable in terms of even the most elemental analysis of relevant data. Thus, it would not only be naive but very irresponsible to assume that today's major democracies are going to make adequate preparations for the future, particularly in the realm of environmental policy. It is only prudent to plan ahead for alternative scenarios.
We do believe we can play a vital role in bringing vital documentary information about political philosophy to the world. In this way, we can use the wisdom of the past to understand the future and hopefully make it a better place.
Those who do not remember the past are likely to repeat its mistakes.
Our goal is to use the power of the internet to educate people around the world about the theory and practice of totalitarianism, from ancient times to the present.
Our web site is to serve as a portal to educate people, particularly leaders. The information on our site is organized for busy people who have little time. These are the people who can have an impact on making policies here in the United States and abroad.
The internet is also a means to offer a free university to all who want to learn, all around the world. We want to provide an online resource for educators and scholars. The web site can benefit professional teachers, as our lists offer a ready-made foundation for courses on totalitarianism.
Under no circumstances do we plan to engage in any kind of partisan politics, supporting or attacking any political party and so on. However, we do plan to monitor political developments in key countries and publish relevant news and documentary material about what is going. We also want to study these countries in order to make sure that we are placing historical and documentary material on the web that relates to current events.
An absolutely essential part of our plan is a global view of history – not a “west is best” or “west only” view. This means giving careful attention to a global view of world political philosophy, giving serious attention to doctrines such as the Legalist school of ancient Chinese political philosophy.
In the long run we want to make the site multilingual so that it can reach a wider audience. We are aiming at the major nations of the world. The following languages are chosen for export: German, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Spanish. Since the cost of translating everything into different languages would be very high, some priorities will be set that relate to the particular language involved. We have already researched and linked to the best automatic translation web sites. However, these translations, while a giant step forward, have severe limitations in terms of accuracy. Fortunately, technology is moving forward and things are likely to get better.
Our Totalitarianism Research Project has several major components:
A Guide to Historical Texts on the Internet
We link to an extensive list of web sites, making the World Future Fund a central point from which the study of totalitarianism can be conducted. This enables us to make a wide range of historical documentation available to our readers without duplicating the work of others. In addition, acting as a focal point of study also allows us to concentrate out efforts on areas of research that others have neglected.
Our effort to consolidate the study of totalitarianism in one place is of particular benefit to readers in developing nations. Researchers in these countries frequently only have access to obsolete computers and low-speed Internet connections. Our comprehensive lists of links provide a single point of departure for their research. Moreover, we post documents and lists of relevant links using very few graphics, allowing these readers to search our collections more efficiently.
The World Future Fund is unique in that its centralized approach to Internet research provides a comprehensive list of links.
These links can be accessed here: Totalitarianism Philosophy Links
A Guide to Sources Not Currently on the Web
Many historical sources are still not available on the net. Also, some sources are simply too long to read online. In these cases we have created targeted reading lists. Our lists recommend both primary material and significant secondary works to which researchers can refer. These materials can easily be used as the basis for courses, as well as for individual study.
This list is still under construction and can be found here: Totalitarianism Reading List
Online Library of Original Documents
We have discovered that many important original sources and
documents are not available on the web. It is for this reason that we have
published a number of key documents from totalitarian thinkers.
We also show, by means of a series of quotations and analytical works, the violently anti-democratic nature of ancient philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, who advocated concepts of eugenics and euthanasia in the most specific terms.
Further important documentary content of our project includes:
Reports on Key Subjects
Part of our project involves producing reports on important research subjects. Thus far, these reports have focused largely on Nazi Germany. We intend to produce reports on other subjects as well, however, including Stalin’s speeches, a report on the legal theories of totalitarian justice as defined by Stalin’s chief prosecutor.
We already have created some truly important and unique reports.
Currently, we have posted on our web site the most detailed report on Hitler’s plans for the conquest and colonization of Eastern Europe and the Western Soviet Union: General Plan East.
We have also prepared the only online guide to the Nuremberg Party Congresses . These gatherings were held annually in the 1930s after Hitler came to power. They present a fascinating study in the use of mass meetings, technology, architecture, and political fanfare as expressions of the totalitarian mentality and tools of totalitarian control. In addition, they offer a single example of the organization of the Nazi State, since the most important institutions of the Nazi Party, army, and bureaucracy were represented.
In addition, we have prepared a brief report on the unbelievable deficiency that currently exists in the availability of Adolf Hitler’s most important speeches. We have found that the sources scholars currently rely upon for many of Hitler's key statements are a) badly translated, b) often incomplete, and/or c) prepared with no understanding of the context within which the speech was given.
Lastly, we have created the most extensive list of Heinrich Himmler’s speeches and secondary sources on the ideology of the SS: Himmler and SS Documentary List. Our list includes the archival locations of these documents in the Washington, DC area, which makes study of this subject significantly easier.
Guides to Key National Archives
We produce detailed guides to the study of certain subjects and nations. We have compiled a detailed list with internet links for the main national archives of the world. We presently have the best Guide to German Archives that is available on the web. Scholars of modern German history need only visit our page for a list of the most significant collections of documents in Germany. Our attention in this guide is directed primarily at institutions in Berlin (archives and libraries), which is once again the focal point of German political and scholarly activity.
We are in the process of creating similar guides for Tokyo and Beijing, as well as for other cities.
Sources in Original Languages
A major part of our plans is the translation of key material so that people all over the world can more clearly understand each others' culture. If possible, the Fund will create mirror sites in the world's main languages. We plan to monitor technology closely here. We make information available via translation web sites and software. This software allows people to use Windows XP to write in foreign scripts, like Japanese and Chinese. We also monitor scanning software for turning older intellectual works into digital form. For example, we shall try to monitor software for scanning in the old prewar Gothic German print fonts and Japanese and Chinese characters.
Some examples of our commitment to providing documentary sources and reference materials in languages other than English include our pages on China: Past and Present (in English and Chinese) and on Japan: Past and Present (in English and Japanese). We have published key historical documents, as well, such as the only copy on a western web site of the Book of Lord Shang, a key legalist text (in Chinese), and the Chinese government’s Official 1981 Condemnation of Some of Mao's Crimes (In Chinese).
Education for the Developing World
We are very committed to the idea of the internet as a means of
education for the people of the less-developed world.
We deliberately do not use frames on our web and keep graphics to a
minimum so that people in the developing world who do not have the money
for high speed internet access will be able to read our site.
Almost all of our site is designed to be accessible at a speed of 28K.
This is particularly important since the speed of access slows down as
viewers get farther away or are in countries that do not have modern
telecommunications networks. Via the internet the world's poor will
be able to get access to libraries that they could not hope to reach
A very important part of our plans is to reach out to major research and educational institutions around the world to encourage serious research in areas that need attention. In our work we periodically discover subjects of considerable importance that have not yet been the focus of serious scholarly study. In some cases we encourage research organizations and institutions with related interests to work on these subjects.
Similarly, we plan to alert prominent scholars to subjects that are in need of study, and we plan alert publishers about the need to either republish important out-of-print books, or to publish significant works for the first time.
We believe that public interest organizations should not waste money duplicating each others work. Networking with like-minded organizations and institutions reduces the possibility that our work duplicates the work of others, just as it ensures that we do not work in isolation.
By means of educating other organizations we can greatly increase the impact of our work.
Ownership of web address Totalitarianism.org.
This goes directly to our Totalitarianism Project.