Arendt and America by Richard H. King

By Richard H. King

German-Jewish political thinker Hannah Arendt (1906–75) fled from the Nazis to ny in 1941, and through the following thirty years in the USA she wrote her best-known and such a lot influential works, reminiscent of The Human , The Origins of Totalitarianism, and On Revolution. but, even though a considerable section of her oeuvre was once written in the US, no longer Europe, not anyone has at once thought of the impression of the USA on her thought—until now. In Arendt and America, historian Richard H. King argues that whereas all of Arendt’s paintings was once haunted by way of her event of totalitarianism, it used to be simply in her followed native land that she was once in a position to formulate the belief of the fashionable republic instead to totalitarian rule.
Situating Arendt in the context of U.S. highbrow, political, and social heritage, King finds how Arendt constructed a fascination with the political considered the Founding Fathers. King additionally re-creates her highbrow exchanges with American associates and associates, similar to Dwight Macdonald and Mary McCarthy, and exhibits how her vigorous correspondence with sociologist David Riesman helped her comprehend smooth American tradition and society. within the final component to Arendt and America, King units out the context during which the Eichmann controversy happened and follows the controversy approximately “the banality of evil” that has persisted ever given that.  As King indicates, Arendt’s paintings, despite concentration, was once formed through postwar American proposal, tradition, and politics, together with the Civil Rights circulate and the chilly War.

For Arendt, the us used to be even more than a shelter from Nazi Germany; it was once a stimulus to reconsider the political, moral, and ancient traditions of human tradition. This authoritative mixture of highbrow background and biography deals a different technique for puzzling over the effect of the United States on Arendt’s rules and in addition the impact of her rules on American thought.

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Ironically, then, the book of Arendt’s that is least about America had significant implications for, and influence on, American thought and culture, as well as the political thinking of the Cold War period— and after. It is to those matters that I will now turn. The Modernity of Anti-Semitism Part 1 of Origins (“Anti-Semitism”) dealt primarily with late nineteenthand early twentieth-century European Jewry, primarily in Germany but also in France, including a powerful analysis of the Dreyfus affair.

Political intellectuals working within the various movements of liberation from Soviet domination— Solidarity in Poland, Charter 77 and the later Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, along with dissident groups in East Germany— were shaped by their reading of Origins and works like it. 3 To be sure, there were differences: while Arendt’s interpretation of totalitarianism stressed ideology and terror, embodied in the pervasiveness of the camp system of both regimes, totalitarianism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union by the 1980s referred more to the stifling of authentic political life and the pervasive presence of the state.

With the Guilt and Responsibility 41 example of white liberal guilt in mind, she denied that one could feel guilty “without oneself actively participating” in some action. ”63 In a certain sense, then, responsibility demanded a more rigorous thinking through than guilt. In her essay, Arendt placed these two ways of evaluating action in historical perspective by linking them to the classical and to the “Hebrew-Christian heritage,” respectively. With this, she supplied the underpinnings to her thinking about morality it had lacked in the mid-1940s.

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