The Origins of Totalitarianism, Part 1

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1973 - Political Science - 527 pages
10 Reviews

"How could such a book speak so powerfully to our present moment? The short answer is that we, too, live in dark times, even if they are different and perhaps less dark, and "Origins" raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead."   Jeffrey C. Isaac, The Washington Post

Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism and an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history

The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time--Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia--which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

Welp, this seemed topical. Lots of people have recently discussed Arendt’s explanation of why totalitarians lie and change positions so readily—because the point isn’t truth, the point is to destroy ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TheAmpersand - LibraryThing

Easy enough to read, for an academic text, but certainly not an easy read. As others have commented, "The Origins of Totalitarianism" is somewhat uneven. Arendt's history of the societal role of Jews ... Read full review

Contents

The Jews the NationState and the Birth
11
The Jews and Society
54
Between Vice and Crime
79
The Dreyfus Affair
89
Pardon and Its Significance
119
IMPERIALISM
121
The Alliance Between
147
RaceThinking Before Racism
158
Continental Imperialism the PanMovements
222
Party and Movement
250
The Decline of the NationState and the
267
TOTALITARIANISM
303
The Totalitarian Movement
341
Organization
364
Ideology and Terror
460
Bibliography
483

Race and Bureaucracy
185
Character
207

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About the author (1973)

Born in Hanover, Germany, Hannah Arendt received her doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1928. A victim of naziism, she fled Germany in 1933 for France, where she helped with the resettlement of Jewish children in Palestine. In 1941, she emigrated to the United States. Ten years later she became an American citizen. Arendt held numerous positions in her new country---research director of the Conference on Jewish Relations, chief editor of Schocken Books, and executive director of Jewish Cultural Reconstruction in New York City. A visiting professor at several universities, including the University of California, Columbia, and the University of Chicago, and university professor on the graduate faculty of the New School for Social Research, in 1959 she became the first woman appointed to a full professorship at Princeton. She also won a number of grants and fellowships. In 1967 she received the Sigmund Freud Prize of the German Akademie fur Sprache und Dichtung for her fine scholarly writing. Arendt was well equipped to write her superb The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) which David Riesman called "an achievement in historiography." In his view, "such an experience in understanding our times as this book provides is itself a social force not to be underestimated." Arendt's study of Adolf Eichmann at his trial---Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963)---part of which appeared originally in The New Yorker, was a painfully searching investigation into what made the Nazi persecutor tick. In it, she states that the trial of this Nazi illustrates the "banality of evil." In 1968, she published Men in Dark Times, which includes essays on Hermann Broch, Walter Benjamin, and Bertolt Brecht (see Vol. 2), as well as an interesting characterization of Pope John XXIII.

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