John Douglas Macready considers the importance of Arendt’s analysis of loneliness as the fertile ground for totalitarian and ideological politics. The widespread anxiety over the global eruption of right-wing populism, which was exacerbated by the election of Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, and the succeeding four years of his presidency, produced a renewed interest in the political theory of Hannah Arendt,
Right wing governments in Hungary, India, Turkey, Brazil, and to some degree even in the United States have increasingly embraced Viktor Orbán’s claim of “illiberal democracy.” These governments remain democratic even as they reject liberal safeguards for personal freedom such as freedom of speech and association, independent courts, a non-partisan professional civil service, respect for constitutional limitations on political power.
On September 16, 1964, Hannah Arendt sat for an interview on German TV with Günther Gaus. Arendt and Gaus are both chain smoking through the interview in which they talk about the Holocaust, philosophy, feminism, Jewishness, exile, and of course her book on Adolf Eichmann.
In a tribute to her mentor Karl Jaspers, Hannah Arendt once said: “Humanity is never acquired in solitude, and never by giving one’s work to the public. It can be achieved only by one who has thrown his life and his person into the ‘venture into the public realm.’”
Whether George Floyd died from asphyxiation or some combination of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” as the official Hennepin County autopsy has it, anyone can see that former police officer Derek Chauvin sat firmly on Mr. Floyd’s neck, left hand casually in his pocket as if bored, for over 8 minutes while three other officers calmly looked on.
These are dark times. The hardest thing to do in dark times, writes Hannah Arendt, is to love the world. She invokes the Latin phrase Amor Mundi, For the Love of the World, to express the unspeakably difficult effort to reconcile with the world as it is while also insisting that the world must change.
Anne Applebaum tells the stories of Wolfgang Leonhard and Markus Wolf. Both were sons of prominent German Communist families who were educated in the Soviet Union and were roommates in the same military camp. They had similar ideological educations and both came to understand that the communist system behind the Iron Curtain was failing to deliver on its utopian promise. But then their paths diverged.
Many have been waiting and wondering when, and if, leaders would emerge from the conservative strongholds like the military and the Republican Party to call out the childishness, narcissism, and boorishness that makes Donald Trump such a singularly disastrous President. It seems that the President’s decision to use the U.S. military to clear away protesters so he could have a photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church...
Thirty-one years ago today the Chinese People’s Liberation Army forcibly cleared democracy protesters from Tiananmen Square. Marking that anniversary has been banned in China (something I found out the hard way when I foolishly wore an Amnesty International t-shirt onto Tiananmen Square on June 4th, 1991 and nearly got arrested).
Masha Gessen’s newest book argues that Donald Trump is paving the way for the end of American democracy and the rise of autocracy. Whether Gessen is right, their argument about how President Trump attacks language attacks a shared world of meaning necessary for democracy is right. Gessen founds their argument on insights from Hannah Arendt...