THE CATHOLIC ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM THEORY IN INTERWAR EUROPE
Totalitarianism theory was one of the ratifying principles of the Cold War, and remains an important component of contemporary political discourse. Its origins, however, are little understood. Although widely seen as a secular product of anticommunist socialism, it was originally a theological notion, rooted in the political theory of Catholic personalism. Specifically, totalitarianism theory was forged by Catholic intellectuals in the mid-1930s, responding to Carl Schmitt's turn to the “total state” in 1931. In this essay I explore the notion's formation and circulation through the Catholic public sphere in both France and Austria, where “antitotalitarianism” was born as a new form of the traditional Catholic animus against the nation state project.
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