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Authoritarian or Totalitarian?–Why It Matters

In the 1980’s, our Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Jeane Kirkpatrick, contended America could work with authoritarian regimes to accomplish our strategic interest in stemming the advance of totalitarian regimes. An authoritarian regime bent upon empowering and enriching its leaders could evolve or be induced to become more democratic over time; contrarily, a totalitarian regime bent upon transforming human nature could only devolve into further murderous repression as its ideological delusions disintegrated in the face of reality. 

Perhaps, the easiest way to encapsulate the authoritarian versus totalitarian distinction is to juxtapose a kleptocratic regime with a communist regime. In dealing with the former, one can always bargain and barter with the venal despots. One cannot do so with communists. The differ …

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