A totalitarian regime is one that control every aspect of its subjects life. If the prescribed code of the ‘state’ is not followed he or she is put to death or near-death incarceration (We have seen this in Nazi Germany, Soviet Communism and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq)
Let me illustrate by an example.
Suppose a crusader develop a political system. His name is Marx. He calls it ‘scientific communism’ and calls himself the greatest scientist of the whole world. If someone asked why it is called scientific, he replies that it is scientific because it is written in its manifesto that it is scientific and he himself is the greatest scientist because he has written the manifesto which is scientific!
Millions of people get impressed and follow the ideology. They get a nation to rule. In that nation, Marx insist that all its citizens should raise the following slogan: ‘There is only one true scientific communism. That is Marxism, and Marx is the greatest of all scientist. Lal Salam Marxism’. All the citizens are supposed to raise this slogan five times in a day, dusk to dawn. There is no time given for the students or citizens to think or question. The chief instructor says that it is written in the manifesto. That’s why it is scientific. He also asserts his pupils need not think that much- because is time to chant the slogan!
Any person who is found disrespecting the slogan is put under observation. And any person who question its ‘scientific nature’ is considered an apostate. And if he discusses his ideas with his friends, he is considered apostate who propagates his idea against the ‘scientific’ state and is put to death.
The above example is a generic illustration of what is totalitarianism. You can substitute the words Marx and scientific with any other terms.
Essentially, totalitarianism means complete control. Any objection or criticisms is plucked at the bud.
Tendency to ‘control’ subjects by ‘rules of whim’ is an essential feature of totalitarian regimes. We can see attempts of totalitarian tendencies in many liberal and illiberal nations. The more illiberal is the democratic control, more easy is initiation of totalitarian rule.