Hannah Arendt has become the thinker of the present moment, cited in hundreds of essays and think pieces seeking to explain our current predicament. There are some good reasons for her newfound relevance. Arendt’s fearless thinking insisted on confronting reality. She understood the uniqueness of totalitarianism, but also its origins in imperialism, bureaucracy, racism, loneliness, and the decline of the nation state.
Pamela Paresky, Jonathan Haidt, Nadine Strossen, and Steven Pinker write about the outrage mob that has forced institutions like the New York Times to run scared and censor the newspaper in response to public pressure.
Philanthropy increasingly has a bad name in some circles these days. And there are real worries about the retreat of government being replaced by wealthy donors who then have an outsized impact on our public world. But it is also important to recall Aristotle’s insight that a political community depends upon virtues, including what he calls the virtue of liberality. It is meaningful, Aristotle writes, when wealthy citizens build shrines to the graces in public places...
Governments and businesses are telling people to get back to work. Lyndsey Stonebridge notes that what what they really are saying is to get back to the business of laboring. The distinction between work and labor is central to Hannah Arendt’s thinking about the human condition.
In a Senate hearing this week, Senator Rand Paul called for humility and warned that Dr. Anthony Fauci was not the “end all” in predicting the course of the Coronavirus. In response, Dr. Fauci reminded Senator Paul—who is also a doctor—that he had never made himself to be an “end all.” “I am a scientist, a physician, and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence...
As the President vacillates between claiming absolute powers and empowering the states, there is a renewed interest in the American principle of federalism. The appeal to the principle of federalism and the multiplication of powers throughout the United States Constitutional system is precisely the kind of thinking Hannah Arendt celebrated as the true innovation of the United States Constitution.
Until recently, I had not left my apartment for 33 days. I did not touch another human being—not even the members of my family with whom I live—for even longer. The virus has been mild in my case. It is nearly gone. Physically, I am fine. I am one of the lucky ones; I never had to make a decision whether to go to a hospital, alone, not knowing whether I would see family and friends ever again.
Kristian Blickle of the Federal Reserve Board of New York has published a working paper, “Pandemics Change Cities: Municipal Spending and Voter Extremism in Germany, 1918-1933.” As described by Quint Forgey, Blickle’s paper “concludes that deaths caused by the 1918 influenza pandemic “profoundly shaped German society” in subsequent years and contributed to the strengthening of the Nazi Party.”