Call for contributions | The Boundaries of Totalitarianism According to Carl Friedrich

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Call for Publications
April 15, 2019 to April 16, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Contemporary History, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Human Rights, Jewish History / Studies, Law and Legal History

The Pilecki Institute has the pleasure of announcing an international and interdisciplinary research project entitled „The Boundaries of Totalitarianism According to Carl Friedrich – Consigned to History or a Viable Model?”.

The project is devoted to a reflection on the contemporary relevance of key theses propounded by political scientists in the second half of the 20th century concerning the definition of the features of totalitarian states.


“Totalitarianism” – edited by Carl Friedrich – is a collection of essays on the political phenomenon of totalitarianism. It constitutes a specific overview of reflections on, among others, the nature of a police-totalitarian state and the quest for its essence, and also on counterfeiting history, accompanied by an attempt at explaining what actually happened in Europe in the years 1920–1953. The authors search for elements that would together form a comprehensive definition of a “totalitarian state”, one covering its mechanisms and methods of shaping internal and international policy. The book also serves as an introduction to a wider contemplation of the impact of ideology on the origin and “total” character of the Second World War. The project will also reference later theses jointly developed by Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzeziński.

The following are the fundamental research questions of the project:

1. The state of research into Soviet and German totalitarianism yesterday and today – to what extent has the passage of more than half a century (since 1954): – changed or broadened the source material base that could potentially prove useful for evaluating the model of totalitarianism proposed by Friedrich? – cemented or devalued certain notions and terms? – caused the definition of totalitarianism to evolve into the concept of the “totalitarian control circuit”?

We would also like to analyze a wide range of relevant case studies.

2. Does the state of knowledge yesterday and today have any bearing on the concept presented in the book? Is it still relevant today, and if yes, then to what extent? Is Friedrich’s proposition, developed in the 1960s in cooperation with Zbigniew Brzeziński, a paradigm that can still be applied in modern political science? These questions are specifically concerned with the present-day pertinency and correctness of the definition and its conceptual framework, and also aim to explore the potential necessity of a redefinition.

3. How can we define the character and nature of wars resulting from totalitarian ideologies?

The project is intended to assist the discussion on whether in our times “Totalitarianism” belongs to the history of political science, or still continues to function as a viable definitional model.

  • We invite you to submit a proposal for an essay by 5 March 2019.
  • Abstract – up to 200 words.
  • Autobiographical note – up to 200 words.
  • Accepted essays will be published in an analytical companion volume
    to the Polish edition of Carl Friedrich’s “Totalitarianism”.
  • The bilingual (Polish and English) volume of essays will be published by the end of 2019.
  • Working in cooperation with a group of recognized specialists,
    the Pilecki Institute will choose 7–10 abstracts.

Selected authors will be notified by 15 March 2019.

The Pilecki Institute will invite the selected scholars to attend an international seminar in Warsaw, which will take place on 15–16 April 2019. During the seminar participants will present and discuss draft versions of their essays (complete with bibliographies). Authors will complete work on their essays within a month after the seminar in Warsaw.

The authors will also be invited to take part in an international conference “The Onset of the New Order: Europe 1939–1940” marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War and organized by the Pilecki Institute on 17–19 September 2019, where they will have an opportunity to present their papers.

Further information
– the seminar and the conference will be held in English and Polish (we will provide interpreting services);
– final papers should contain between 4000 and 6000 words;
– we welcome applications from experienced scholars, graduates, and those who are just starting their scientific careers;
– all applications should be submitted by email;
– all proposals should be submitted by 5 March 2019;
– an abstract in English (up to 200 words) is required;
– we cover travel and accommodation expenses (both for the seminar and the conference).

If you would like to take part in our project, fill in the form and send it to Your application should include the following: name and surname, academic affiliation, title and abstract of your paper (up to 200 words), and a short biographical note. You will be notified of acceptance by 15 March 2019. Should you have any questions, please write to: