Inverted totalitarianism is a system where corporations
have corrupted and subverted democracy and where economics trumps politics. In inverted totalitarianism, every natural resource and every living being is commodified
and exploited to collapse as the citizenry is lulled and manipulated into surrendering their liberties and their participation in government through excess consumerism and sensationalism.
Comparison to the Classical totalitarian regimes
shares similarities with the classical totalitarianism, like Nazi Germany. First of all, both regimes are totalizing because they tend to dominate as much as possible. Both regimes use fear, preemptive wars and elite domination. But, inverted and classical
totalitarianism deviate in several important ways:
Revolution - While the classical totalitarian regimes overthrew the established system, inverted
totalitarianism instead exploits the legal and political constraints of the established democratic system, and uses these constraints to defeat their original purpose.
Whereas the classical totalitarian government was an ordered, idealized and coordinated whole, inverted totalitarianism is a managed democracy which applies managerial skills to basic democratic political institutions.
Propaganda and dissent - Although propaganda plays an essential role in both the West and Nazi Germany, the role it plays in the West is inverted, that is, Western propaganda "is only in
part a state-centered phenomenon". Whereas the production of propaganda was crudely centralized in Nazi Germany, in the West it is left to highly concentrated
media corporations, thus maintaining the illusion of a "free press". According to this model, dissent is allowed, though the corporate media serve as a filter,
allowing most people, with limited time available to keep themselves apprised of current events, to hear only points of view that the corporate media deem "acceptable".
- Whereas the classical totalitarian regimes overthrew weak democracies/regimes, inverted totalitarianism has developed from a strong democracy. The West even maintains its democracy is the model for the whole world.
totalitarianism reverses things. It is all politics all of the time but a politics largely untempered by the political. Party squabbles are occasionally on public display, and there is a frantic and continuous politics among factions of the party, interest
groups, competing corporate powers, and rival media concerns. And there is, of course, the culminating moment of national elections when the attention of the nation is required to make a choice of personalities rather than a choice between alternatives. What
is absent is the political, the commitment to finding where the common good lies amidst the welter of well-financed, highly organized, single-minded interests rabidly seeking governmental favors and overwhelming the practices of representative government and
public administration by a sea of cash.
Ideology - Inverted totalitarianism deviates from the Nazi regime as to ideology, i.e. cost-effectiveness versus
Economy - In Nazi Germany the state dominated the economic actors, in inverted totalitarianism corporations through lobbying, political contributions and the revolving door, dominate the West with the government acting as the servant of large corporations. This is considered "normal" rather than corrupt.
Nationalism - While Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and fascist Italy were nationalistic, inverted totalitarianism is a global superpower based on global exchange of jobs,
culture and commodities.
The people - While the classical totalitarian regimes aimed at the constant political mobilization of the populace, inverted
totalitarianism aims for the mass of the populace to be in a persistent state of political apathy. The only type of political activity expected or desired from the citizenry is voting.
Low electoral turnouts are favourably received as an indication that the bulk of the populace has given up hope that the government will ever significantly help them.
- While the classical totalitarian regimes punished harshly (imprisoning or killing political or ideological opponents and scapegoats), inverted totalitarianism in particular punishes by means of an economy of fear (minimizing social security, busting unions, outdating skills, outsourcing jobs, etc.).
Leader - While the classical
totalitarian regimes had charismatic leaders that were the architects of the state, inverted totalitarianism does not depend on a certain leader, but produces its leaders who are akin to corporate leaders.
Social policy - While Nazism made life uncertain for the wealthy and privileged and had a social policy for the working class, inverted totalitarianism exploits the poor by reducing health and social
programs and weakening working conditions.
Democracy and hegemony is coupled by means of managed democracy, which is a democracy which is managed by managerial methods imported from corporate culture. Corporate culture is an expansive and innovative culture that foresees the unexpected
and eliminates or copes with the unforeseen, thus suppressing participation and general welfare.
Managerial methods are applied to elections:
Managed democracy is the
application of managerial skill to the basic democratic political institution of popular elections.
By using managerial methods and developing management of elections, the democracy of the West has become sanitized
of political participation. Thus, managed democracy is: "a political form in which governments are legitimated by elections that they have learned to control". Under managed
democracy, the electorate is prevented from having a significant impact on policies adopted by the state because of the opinion construction and manipulation carried out by means of technology, social science, contracts and corporate subsidies.
Managerial methods are also the means by which state and global corporations unite so that corporations increasingly assume governmental functions and services, and corporations become still more depend on the state. A main
object of managed democracy is privatization and the expansion of the private, together with reduction of governmental responsibility for the welfare of the citizens.
The West has two main totalizing dynamics:
The first, directed outward, finds its expression in the Global War on Terror and in the Bush
Doctrine that the United States has the right to launch preemptive wars. This amounts to the United States seeing as illegitimate the attempt by any state to resist its domination.
The second dynamic, directed inward, involves the subjection of the mass of the populace to economic "rationalization", with continual "downsizing" and "outsourcing" of jobs abroad and dismantling of what remains of the welfare state. Thus neoliberalism is an integral component of inverted totalitarianism. The state of insecurity in which this places the public serves the useful function of making people feel helpless, thus making it less likely they will become politically active, and thus helping maintain the first dynamic.
Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers expressed the view that:
We are living in a time of Inverted Totalitarianism,
in which the tools used to maintain the status quo are much more subtle and technologically advanced ... These include propaganda and major media outlets that hide the real news about conditions at home and our activities around the world behind distractions
... Another tool is to create insecurity in the population so that people are unwilling to speak out and take risks for fear of losing their jobs ... Changes in college education also silence dissent ... Adjunct professors ... are less willing to teach topics
that are viewed as controversial. This, combined with massive student debt, are tools to silence the student population, once the center of transformative action.