Totalitarianism was a Cold War construct. Essentially a totalitarian regime is seen as the opposite of a democratic one but also something distinctly worse than previous authoritarian and dictatorial systems. Twnetieth century regimes such as Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Mussolini's Italy though different in many ways were all seen as possessing the 6 main features of a totalitarian regime. Rather neatly therefore the enemy in the 2nd World War (Fascism) could be seen as essentially the same as the enemy in the Cold War (Soviet Russia) despite the fact that Soviet Russia fought with the western democracies against fascism.
Fears of totalitarianism also inspired novels such as George Orwell's "1984" and "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin
The 6 Points of a totalitarian regime (Freidrich and Brezinski)
· An official ideology to which general adherence was demanded, the ideology intended to achieve a 'perfect final stage of mankind'.
· A single mass party, hierarchically organised, closely interwoven with the state bureaucracy and typically led by one man.
· Monopolistic control of the armed forces.
· A similar monopoly of the means of effective mass communication.
· A system of terroristic police control.
· Central control and direction of the entire economy.