The Stages of Totalitarianism: America Is Moving from Authoritarian to Totalitarian

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I felt much freer in Bosnia this summer than I do now in the United States. In every city I visited there, I found no restrictions on travel, speech, or medical decision-making. Criminality was frowned upon, rather than encouraged. The people I spoke with appeared to be well-informed on issues of importance to their local community. In contrast, Los Angeles, where I live and work, is an authoritarian city. So is the state of California. And so is the United States as a whole. Soon, though, America may progress from an authoritarian nation to a totalitarian state. How did we arrive at this stage?

No governing system becomes totalitarian overnight. It must first pass through a stage of authoritarianism, where freedoms are slowly removed, as overlords issue pronouncements on what their subjects can no longer do. One of the first to go, perhaps the most important, is the freedom to express ourselves without constraint or censorship.

We lost freedom of speech a long time ago. And we allowed it to happen by first ceding control of our language to authoritarians. We agreed to substitute the word “theft” with “equity,” “revenge” with “social justice,” “racism” with “anti-racism,” and “homogeneity, discrimination, and exclusion” with “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Even the most basic of words, “male,” has now been redefined from “of or referring to men or boys” to “having a gender identity that is the opposite of female.” Merriam-Webster made this decision in 2020. He who controls language controls society. The American people no longer control their language. The authoritarians do, and they alone decide what words mean and who can use them.

In addition to seizing control of language, authoritarians also exert control through censorship. I learned this personally in July 2020, when I spoke on the Supreme Court’s steps with America’s Frontline Doctors, condemning the closure of America’s schools and the sacrifice of the nation’s children to assuage the anxiety of frightened adults.

Over 12 million Americans watched and listened to that talk over eight hours—an internet record—before every reference to it was wiped clean by Twitter, Facebook, and Google. A small group of tech authoritarians, working with government, decided this group of physicians did not have the right to share their views, and Americans did not have the right to hear them. Censorship destroys freedom, because it prevents the truth from getting out, interferes with the marketplace of ideas, and allows for the consolidation of power by small groups that do not speak for the larger population.

We are a much less free people than we were even a few years ago. We agreed to give up our right to speak freely, to defend ourselves, to travel, and to criticize the government. We no longer challenge actual racism, we do not fight back when attacked by criminals, and we do not leave our homes when ordered by the local public health department. When we insist on exercising our rights provided by God and enumerated in the Constitution, we now face the loss of employment, financial penalties, arrest, and imprisonment. For the first time in US history, we have political prisoners being held in an underground dungeon in Washington, D.C. for the crime of questioning the government. Several hundred have been charged with felonies, repeatedly tortured and assaulted by racist guards, and denied access to bail hearings after a non-violent protest challenging the 2020 election results on January 6, 2021. Many are still locked up, awaiting trial. Several have committed suicide. But it can always get worse. And it is.

Fact-checkers have now been installed at every level of public and private communication, interfering with and eliminating “misinformation” that threatens the reigning political orthodoxy. Technology, which has largely been a force for good since the Industrial Revolution, has been transformed into a weapon to track the speech, actions, purchases, and movements of individual Americans. Geolocators, biometric identification, and internet eavesdropping (on web browsing, email, and text messages) have led to a degree of information archiving never before possible, destroying any possibility of individual privacy. Soon, technology will be used regularly for forced resource reallocation, as our home thermostat settings will be remotely determined by government-run power companies, and our electric car batteries will be selectively blocked from charging based on our current “green” social credit scores. The former has already happened, in 2021, in the state of Texas. As our currency transforms into a purely digital form centrally controlled by the feds, what we buy and whether we can access our money will be in the hands of government officials in Washington. Better not disobey their orders, or you will be banned from purchasing food. All of it has already been implemented in foreign countries like Canada, Australia, and China.

We are now moving from an authoritarian nation to a totalitarian one. Authoritarians tell you what you cannot do. Totalitarians tell you what you must do. You must wear a mask. You must stay home. You must get tested. You must inject yourself (and your children) with an untested and dangerous drug. You must flee your home when criminals break into it. You must expose your children to pedophiles. You must castrate your children if they feel confused about their gender. You must offer your income, your property, and your body to the government or face exile from society, if not indefinite confinement in a cell.

American society is being transformed at such a rapid pace, during an unending “state of emergency,” that many Americans are finding it difficult to evaluate the changes and decide which are helpful and which are destructive. To assist in the process, I suggest asking one question: Will this change lead to greater dependence or greater independence? If the former, the change is certainly made in the service of a shift toward totalitarianism. Totalitarianism abhors freedom, lusts for absolute control, and demands compliance. If we fail to identify it and push back against it, we will move from an authoritarian to a totalitarian government, and America as we have always known it will be over, perhaps forever.


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Mark McDonald, M.D. is a psychiatrist and author of United States of Fear: How America Fell Victim to a Mass Delusional Psychosis and Freedom From Fear: A 12 Step Guide to Personal and National Recovery and is a faculty member at IPAK-EDU where he teaches the popular course, “How Not to be Fooled” each Fall Semester, and where he is now planning a course on mental health each Spring semester. You can find his books via

Featured image is from InfoRos

Articles by: Dr. Mark McDonald

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