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Do the kinds of political joke that get circulated in a polity depend on the structure - page 7 / 46

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Douglas Ayling

Ideologically the totalitarian regime type according to Linz and Stepan is one in

which there exists an “Elaborate and guiding ideology that articulates a reachable utopia.

Leaders, individuals, and groups derive most of their sense of mission, legitimation, and

often specific policies from their commitment to some holistic conception of humanity and

society”

11

. In this paper, the 12 years of National Socialist rule in Germany and

Nazi-occupied Europe – the Third Reich – is treated as a regime of this type. The regime

specifically asserted the supremacy of an Aryan race and thereby sought to legitimise itself

and to realise dominance over the world. Anti-Semitism provided the ideological

counterweight to the glorified master race.

In the post-totalitarian regime type the relationship with ideology is altered and the

key theme is a loss of faith. Linz and Stepan summarise the situation thus:

Guiding ideology still officially exists and is part of the social reality. But weakened commitment to or faith in utopia. Shift of emphasis from ideology to programmatic consensus that presumably is based on rational decision-making and limited debate without too much reference to ideology.12

From the point of view of humour this is a particularly interesting period in the psychology

of a political community since it represents a time of “growing empirical disjunction

11

Linz and Stepan (1996), p.44

12

ibid., p.44

page 7

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