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  • This review goes over Absolutism and answers student questions
  • This review does the same for Totalitarianism
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Absolutism Ideas and Examples πŸ‘‘

  • An absolute state involves a single ruler holding all political power with no other balancing institution to check power.
  • Absolutism became very popular post Renaissance as states moved towards consolidation.
  • Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan asserts the key ideas of absolutism: a single ruler is both efficient and a preventative measure against corruption. Interestingly, Hobbes also argues the ideal selection process for a ruler would involve an election without any possibility for impeachment.
  • The best examples of absolutist countries include France, Spain, and Russia. Each country was run differently, proving absolutism's adaptability and shiftable nature.
  • Enlightened absolutism developed during the 18th c. and involved the same grasp on power. However, it focused more on Enlightenment ideals such as art, education, and human rights. In Russia's case, the ideal was westernization.

Totalitarianism Ideas and Examples πŸ”’

  • Totalitarian governments control every aspect of the citizen's life. These states aim to create policies which provide the government extreme levels of control over personal decisions.
  • These governments are run as single-person dictatorships. However, this characteristic isn't inherent to Totalitarianism. Heavy control has been exerted by oligarchic states, and other forms of government that don't involve public participation like voting.
  • The strongest examples of totalitarianism include 19th c. Italy, Germany, Japan, and the USSR. In the modern world, North Korea is a good example of this.

Governmental Differences πŸ“ˆ

  • Generally, the root goals, advantages, and disadvantages of absolute monarchy and totalitarianism are shared.Β 
  • The key difference is citizens in absolutist states could enjoy more freedom than those under totalitarian governments. Likewise, a totalitarian state could be run by more than one person.
  • Another important distinction is the usage of terms in regards to periodization. Absolutism pertains mostly to rulers during the time after the Renaissance, and falls from use at the turn of the 20th c., with the exception of Russia. Following the Russian revolution, states with similar characteristics to absolutism are referred to as "totalitarian." However, each term could technically be used for any time period.
  • Absolutist states generally experience less civil unrest, especially if the ruler acts in a way perceived by the citizens to be in their best interest. Under enlightened absolutism, personal freedoms are often emphasized. By contrast, totalitarian states always have a military presence, and will have a less happy populace. With their strict control over the military, successful resistance is much harder to accomplish under a totalitarian government.
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