Could revised concepts of Panopticon and bio-power shed some new light on the unique technologies of totalitarian power? This article explores the key mechanisms of total domination constructed as an ideal type. It treats Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany as paragons of modern totalitarianism that is characterized by the explicit use of an obligatory, comprehensive, ‘scientific’ ideology as a political tool of domination. The issues addressed include freedom; the state, law and terror; relations of truth; the self (and the other), and biopower. Specific strategies of surveillance, dissolution of the self and obliteration of the “social” are highlighted to enable recognition of possible re-emergence of totalitarian practices in the current, technologically and politically transformed global universe.