All models of modernization that aim at generality have dealt in some way with the economic-development variables that affect rising output per head directly and visibly, such as industrialization, urbanization, national income, and per capita income. In their quest for a model sufficiently general to subsume the move from “rising output per head” to “self-sustaining growth,” sociologists have added to these variables an enlightenment variable measured in terms of schooling, literacy, and media exposure; political scientists have added a power variable measured in terms of participation, party membership, and voting; psychologists have added a cross-cutting variable of personality (usually postulated as an explanatory variable for which other variables serve as behavioral indices) measured in terms of authoritarianism, empathy, and need achievement. Anthropologists have enriched the general model by obliging it to account for local-temporal variants—those “diverse cultures” which, in Kluckhohn’s words (1959), shape the behavioral variations underlying our “common humanity.”
Some authors have suggested that a virtuous culture must exist as a prerequisite for liberty. Benjamin Franklin stated that "only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."  Madison likewise declared: "To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea."  John Adams acknowledged: "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." 
For Arendt, the popular appeal of totalitarian ideologies with their capacity to mobilize populations to do their bidding, rested upon the devastation of ordered and stable contexts in which people once lived. The impact of the First World War, and the Great Depression, and the spread of revolutionary unrest, left people open to the promulgation of a single, clear and unambiguous idea that would allocate responsibility for woes, and indicate a clear path that would secure the future against insecurity and danger. Totalitarian ideologies offered just such answers, purporting discovered a "key to history" with which events of the past and present could be explained, and the future secured by doing history's or nature's bidding. Accordingly the amenability of European populations to totalitarian ideas was the consequence of a series of pathologies that had eroded the public or political realm as a space of liberty and freedom. These pathologies included the expansionism of imperialist capital with its administrative management of colonial suppression, and the usurpation of the state by the bourgeoisie as an instrument by which to further its own sectional interests. This in turn led to the delegitimation of political institutions, and the atrophy of the principles of citizenship and deliberative consensus that had been the heart of the democratic political enterprise. The rise of totalitarianism was thus to be understood in light of the accumulation of pathologies that had undermined the conditions of possibility for a viable public life that could unite citizens, while simultaneously preserving their liberty and uniqueness (a condition that Arendt referred to as "plurality").