How does one reliably discern democracy versus totalitarianism? This question is becoming more relevant every day, as the distinction dissolves.
Many authors of the status quo steer us towards a structural analysis of institutions and content analysis of the written provisions of statutes. The glibbest of these pundits serenade us about elected “representatives” versus inherited leadership and undue “interference”.
In fact, there is a reliable error-free test: The degree of freedom of the individual to influence society by expression.
A democracy requires individual freedom of expression in order to function as an actual democracy. This is a foundational tenant of the USA constitution and it is given massive lip service by the supreme courts of all Western nations. It is also true, by axiomatic definition.
The converse is not as frequently acknowledged by Western institutions: A totalitarian system requires suppression of individual expression in order to secure and preserve itself.
In addition, freedom of expression is not a monochromatic continuum of intensity, from freedom to obedience and servitude. Rather, the overall social dominance hierarchy is populated by a large array of different (and sometimes competing) institutional structures that can be totalitarian.
Indeed, each of these institutional structures is totalitarian to the degree that it manipulates and exploits the individuals; by maintaining, projecting, protecting and imposing its…