Reiner and the totalitarian mindset

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Adam’s main opponent in Carrion, Anthony Reiner. I’ve been struggling to understand what makes him such a willing exponent of prohibition? Within the fictional world of Carrion prohibition is the product of a totalitarian regime. Wikipedia defines totalitarianism as “a political system where the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life whenever necessary.”(1) So the question I’m really asking is; what kind of person is attracted to totalitarianism? To answer that question you first need to ask; what allows totalitarianism to flourish? The short answer is uncertainty. In his paper “How to make enemies and influence people” (2) Alfonso Montuori characterises the “totalitarian mindset” as a response to the stress of contemporary pluralism. Basically we live in complex times full of ambiguity and uncertainty. We feel threatened. And when we’re backed into a corner we have a tendency to succumb to “simplistic, black-and-white solutions.” Montuori goes on to note that “individuals all over the world have sought relief from the uncertainty of a pluralistic world in the arms of absolute belief systems of a religious fundamentalist and/or political/nationalistic nature.” Within the world of Carrion the threat posed by those who use drugs is lightning rod, a life-threatening danger, that allows the government to “drastically reduce ambiguity and complexity.” The forces of authority instinctively “fall back on a form of very simplistic… totalitarian thinking.” Just as the Nazi’s persecuted the Jews, so the prohibitionist government in Carrion persecutes the drug user… (I realise that this is only half finished but I’ve taken this idea as far as I can for today. My thoughts need further clarification so will have to wait for another post.)

8 Replies to “Reiner and the totalitarian mindset”

  1. Isn’t it possible that some people are attracted to power per se? That they like to see over people suffer? Then it would not only be the longing for predictability and certainty in an otherwise chaotic life but also misery.


    1. There are those with a propensity for the sadistic but I think the totalitarian mindset is broader than that. It craves the certainty that comes from strong leadership and a sense of belonging. The chaos of turbulent times allows this kind of leadership to flourish. They polarise issues into right and wrong, us and them, you’re either with us or against us, negating all other points of view. It’s an attitude that permeates the discourse on drugs. And for me the attitudes of the prohibitionists in Carrion. Thanks for commenting. D. 😉


  2. You are welcome 🙂 I think that is the reasoning of ordinary people who make a totalitarian system stable and lasting. But I am not sure powers that be share that sentiment. At least some of them definitely enjoy power for a mere reason of exercising influence without an obligation to be accountable for it. But anyway you surely now world of Carrion better. I was just thinking along the lines of power as guilty pleasure.


    1. It’s an interesting idea, “power as a guilty pleasure” and perhaps it’s an idea I might explore in another context. As far as Reiner is concerned I’m trying to figure out what makes him tick. What defines his weakness and need within the story? The outline of the story I’ve been building is focused on Adam’s journey, his transformation from prohibitionist to insurgent. I want to define his relationship with Reiner, explore their antagonism towards each other. I’m trying to figure out the mechanism of his adherence to the cause. Why does he react so violently to Adam’s need to save Christine? And I think that reaction is rooted to his totalitarian mindset. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. 😉


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