John Paul II on Totalitarianism: A Timeless Lesson

In Pedro García Casas & Antonio R. Miñón Sáenz (eds.), La humildad del maestro. Madrid: Ediciones Encuentro. pp. 440-451 (2019)
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The article shows that Pope John Paul II contributed not only to a practical weakening of totalitarian systems in the political world, but also to a significant deepening of theoretical knowledge about them. In the light of his teaching, totalitarianism appears as an attack on the human person, consisting in an attempt to subordinate him to a collective subject. The main reason for the emergence and implementation of totalitarian ideologies is the negation of God as the ultimate guarantor of human dignity and freedom. In the field of social life, the separation of man from God results in the replacement of truth by the dictates of power. Living the life without free access to universally knowable truth can lead to various, even democratic, forms of totalitarianism. Democratic totalitarianism occurs when transcendent truth is excluded from the public sphere in the name of a democracy that gives absolute primacy to majority rule. Such a democracy becomes a treacherous danger for both individuals and minority groups. It finally seems that only an authentic democracy built on respect for the dignity of all human beings as persons can provide the necessary conditions for the successful overcoming of totalitarianism.

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Pawel Tarasiewicz
Adler-Aquinas Institute, Colorado Springs, Colo., USA


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