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Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism

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Hanaa Ziad

on 28 September 2012

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Transcript of Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism

Hannah Arendt: On Totalitarianism - Arendt (1906 - 1975)
- Studied under Heidegger, whose neo-Kantian philosophy inspired her
- She was imprisoned in Camp Gurs but was able to escape
- Fled Germany in 1933
- Lived in Prague, Geneva, and Paris and later in the USA Background: Definitions:
Totalitarianism: single party state exercises control over freedom, will and/or thought
uprooted: removed violently from a native place or environment
superfluous: unnecessary or needless

- Isolation (=> despotism, tyranny, dictatorship) vs. loneliness (=> totalitarianism)
- Totalitarian government and domination Subject: totalitarianism - Nazism and Stalism prevalent, ideologies characteristic of the 20th century
- Ideologies that reduced human kind in the name of higher ideals ("law of History and Nature"), and terror as the "realization of the law of movement" which was intended to "accelerate the forces of nature and history" Context: Totalitarianism succeeded because it did what no other system had done before, destroy private life and exploit loneliness Thesis - Empirical: "Totalitarian government like all tyrannies, certainly could not exist without destroying the public realm of life..."
Historical: "Loneliness... closely connected with uprootedness and superfluousness which have been the curse of modern masses since the beginning of the industrial revolution and have been acute with the rise of imperialism at the end of the 19th century and the break-down of political and social traditions in our time"
Psychological: "Loneliness is at the same time contrary to the basic requirements of the human condition and one of the fundamental experiences of every human life." Arguments - Deductive:
Totalitarianism could not exist without destroying the private realm
Loneliness is the result of destroying the private realm
Totalitarianism could not exist without loneliness

- Analytical
"Even the experience of the materially and sensually given world depends upon my being in contact with other men" Reasoning Conclusion - Defender of constitutionalism and the rule of law
- Classical tradition of civil republicanism (Aristotle, Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Tocqueville) Liberalism
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