Geeks logo

Santa Claus: The Ultimate Totalitarian?

You better watch out and not complain. He’ll know, and he’s coming for you.

By Taru Anniina LiikanenPublished about a year ago 7 min read
Santa Claus: The Ultimate Totalitarian?
Photo by Jesson Mata on Unsplash

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, the time of year when an old terror arises.

There’s a lot of talk about fascism and even totalitarianism these days, but we often disregard the ultimate plot for world domination that takes over several countries for a month or even more each year.

It’s been around us for decades, maybe even centuries, but we haven’t paid attention to how deep and all-encompassing this regime really is.

I’m taking a huge risk here, speaking truth to power, but I think it’s worth it just to give you an idea of the things we’ve normalized that are happening under our very eyes.

Here are some of the characteristics of Santa’s regime. His totalitarian toolbox, if you will.

He’s shrouded in mystery.

There’s not a lot we actually know about Santa. He covers his face with a beard so we don’t see his features. If we were able to run facial recognition software on him, what would we find?

And we don’t know his full name, either. There are indications that his original name is Nick or Nicholas, but we don’t know for sure. And what about Kris Kringle? His whole origin story seems to have been covered up to sow more confusion.

Where did he get that uniform? What does the color mean? Is the red an indication of a communist ideology? What about the white? Is it alt-right symbolism?

The location of his factory is also a mystery. North Americans claim it’s in the Nort Pole, but nobody’s ever seen him there. Us Finns know it’s in Korvatunturi, but we don’t know the exact location, either.

Sure, there’s a tourist spot right outside the city of Rovaniemi where you can meet Santa, but that’s just a decoy. I’ve been there and believe me, that’s not Santa. He uses body doubles to keep us busy and protect himself from assassination, like Like Saddam Hussein was rumored to do. It’s straight from the authoritarian’s playbook.

He uses violence.

All authoritarian leaders use violence, or the threat of violence, to further their goals and maintain the terror that keeps us on our toes.

Santa’s factory relies on forced labor. Not only that, but he seems to target a specific group of people, with distinct physical characteristics, for this work. ‘Elves’ or ‘gnomes’ is what he calls them, but it does sound a lot like an ableist slur.

Also, more than factories, I’d call them work camps. Has anybody ever seen an elf get out? You might have seen them at a department store with Santa, but always working. Never living their lives. Working with Santa is a death sentence.

And let’s not forget about the animal abuse.

There’s one reindeer, Rudolph, who is clearly suffering from a chronic sinus infection, and probably should be left at home to rest. But of course, Santa doesn’t work like this.

He will put Rudolph at the top of the pack, pulling more than this weight, all night and around the world. All just as a punishment for his weakness.

Santa is a truly sadistic leader.

He uses traditional totalitarian control techniques.

If there’s one thing everybody knows about Santa, it’s that he watches you. And he’s not afraid to let you know he’s watching. From an early age, we’re indoctrinated so we’ll be expecting it, and welcoming this control.

He knows when you are sleeping or awake, and if you’ve been good or bad. This is some serious Orwellian 1984 Big Brother sh*t. It’s what true terror looks like.

Don’t you dare even think any bad thoughts about him. Be good, or else.

He keeps lists of his friends and enemies.

If you do complain, Santa’s spies all over the world watch your every move and report back to him.

He keeps lists of the people he determines as ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ which seem like some pretty arbitrary categories to me. Nobody’s seen these lists, so it’s not possible to make comparisons between the victims of his terror and see which actions will get you on the wrong one.

But if you doubt whether Santas’s totalitarian terror truly exists, let me ask you a question:

Have you ever heard of anyone who was on the naughty list and lived to tell the story?

He gets into any house without permission.

Nobody knows how, but Santa makes it into any house in the world in the middle of the night.

There are indications that if the door is not available, he will use another entrance, including the chimney. And we’re supposed to leave a sacrifice of cookies and milk waiting for him?

But this is not all, because he also leaves threatening messages and packages to the people living there. A “gift” so you’ll remember he’s always watching.

Very Godfather of him.

He uses propaganda and indoctrination.

As Hannah Arendt writes in her classic The Origins of Totalitarianism, totalitarian movements supplant propaganda with indoctrination inside the regime. When they do use propaganda, it’s to convince the outside world, either the non-totalitarian sphere of the population or the countries lying outside of totalitarian control, of their power.

While other authoritarian leaders are obsessed with buying out or coercing the media to control public discourse, Santa doesn’t need to. He’s always been an expert in getting some eyeballs to his message, and he does this by buying himself some powerful friends in the arts and entertainment world.

Santa propaganda is everywhere. It’s most prominent in Europe and the US, but the movies and songs and ads reach the rest of the world, as well.

Large corporations like Coca-Cola are obliged to work for him, pushing his propaganda down our throats every year. This is mind control.

He buys the love of his friends.

As in every authoritarian regime, Santa also has a clearly defined in-group of true believers, and an out-group of heretics (mostly non-Christians).

And when you’re a part of the in-group, Santa will give you gifts as a signal that you’ve been doing things well. It all seems innocuous until you realize you’ve fully bought into his death cult.

It’s impossible to divorce corruption like this from authoritarian regimes. They go together like Christmas and presents.

Or something else, maybe.

He makes a show of his virility.

As historian Rugh Ben-Ghiat writes in Strongmen:

“Many strongmen boast of their virile powers. Bare-chested photographs advertise the fitness and potency of Mussolini and Putin. Gaddafi, Berlusconi and Trump vaunt control of desirable women, the former by surrounding himself with attractive female bodyguards and nurses, the latter two with former models and beauty pageant queens. Some broadcast their sexual stamina.”

Santa goes a step further: he makes sure people know about his sexual adventures with stories and music about how he can conquer just about any woman.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus prepares women to the idea that when Santa comes a-knocking, you’d better be prepared to give him what he wants.

Oh, and that lusty Santa Baby song, asking him to hurry down the singer’s chimney? It legitimizes the transgression of the leader going into citizens’ private property and doing what he wants. He may leave you a present after that, but the price is your life, your body, your self-determination.

All I Want for Christmas Is You used to be my favorite song around this time of year until I saw the truth. It’s a part of the worship of the leader, and an important characteristic of every authoritarian regime.

At the same time, Santa Claus, of course, is married. Because, as Ben-Ghiat writes, authoritarian leaders often seek to “reverse shifts in social norms that threaten patriarchy and the satisfaction of natural male desires.”

Santa also publicly—and hypocritically — subscribes to traditional, Christian family values. But don’t forget, he has Mrs. Clause hidden at home, while he goes out in search of his young prey, every Christmas.

How about resistance?

Do I think it’s time to cancel Santa? You can’t cancel a dictator. You can only overthrow them, but it’s really hard to do with someone who has such a stronghold of our societies.

I’m not sure we’ll be able to end his reign of terror. The resistance movement is currently too weak, and Santa has outlasted authoritarians of all colors, from Mussolini and Stalin to Castro.

But I’ll be damned if I don’t try to inform you all of the truth behind this ancient regime.

Damned, I say.

So, what can you do? First, educate yourself. Then, talk to others. Find like-minded people. Organize.

But be careful. He is watching, and as you know, he’s coming to town soon.


This story was originally published by me, on Medium.


About the Creator

Taru Anniina Liikanen

Finnish by birth, porteña at heart. Recovering political ghostwriter. Fiction, relationships, politics, bad puns, popular and unpopular opinions. Occasional dinosaurs, because dinosaurs are the best.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.