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After the horrors of two world wars, no demand seemed more urgent than that for a global and sustainable peace. “No more war” was the order of the day.

These efforts for peace not only materialized in the middle of the last century with the emergence of the United Nations, they were also incorporated into the German Basic Law as a central political guiding principle. The formerly powerful nationalisms should now be tamed by a multilateralism secured under international law. Normatively, this concept is based on fundamental values ​​of democracy, such as human rights and the rule of law.

Today, almost 80 years after the end of the Second World War, these models are available in many places. The return of autocratic regimes and the rise of totalitarian tendencies pose a threat to previous peace efforts and bring with them new security challenges.

Two autocrats: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin; Neither of them shy away from breaking international law (Photo: Kremlin)

In her studies on German fascism and Soviet Stalinism, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) describes the process of transformation from social classes to ideologized masses under the concept of “totalitarian rule”. The theoretician states that, despite the differences in content, the functionality of both worldviews is comparable: the struggle for total global domination and the destruction of competing forms of society. From today's perspective, totalitarian regimes appear as phenomena of a bygone era. After all, fascism - with the death of Franco in 1975 - and communism - since the dissolution of the Soviet Union - are considered to have been overcome. But the current triumphant advance of populist movements reveals that Arendt's works have lost none of their topicality.

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