The Origins of Totalitarianism

The Origins of Totalitarianism

Book - 1994
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"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.

Publisher: San Diego, Calif. : Harcourt, c1994.
Edition: New ed. with added prefaces. --
ISBN: 9780156701532
Branch Call Number: 320.53 ARE 1994
Characteristics: xliii, 527 p.


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Sep 01, 2017

People who are upset by Arendt's Eichmann In Jerusalem will get a heart attack from Origins of Totalitarianism; or they would, if they read it cover to cover -- it seems few people have. Origins is not a history book, but an analysis of history by a philosopher. Many chapters, like the one about Marcel Proust and the elite Jews of France, are stand-alone essays, with only a tangential relation to the theme of totalitarianism. As the commenter below notes, it is wordy and meandering, and has no "story" to carry the reader through, as was the case with Eichmann and his trial. But this is in part because Origins is such a cornucopia of ideas. Choose a page, any page, and they would be enough for any one ordinary book. (Please see video, for an example of a single page.) In Origins, Arendt reaches greatness, but she needs great editor to systematize her ideas; an Engels to her her Marx. This is most definitely not a book to read casually, but to read slowly and ponder.

Jun 06, 2017

"The danger is that a global, universally interrelated civilization may produce barbarians from its own midst by forcing millions of people in to conditions which, despite all appearances, are the conditions of savages." (p. 384)
And there are many other insights that are quotable in this book, especially from the last two sections, on imperialism and totalitarianism. Statelessness, legal limbo, organizations of evil and many other topics are discussed thoughtfully, but not logically or systematically, instead it just meanders through its subjects by vague semantic relations; its a wordy sort of book.

Sep 13, 2015

Defying Hitler: A Memoir circa 1940 originally in German
Geschichte eines Deutschen. Die Erinnerungen 1914–1933
Sebastian Haffner 1907-1999 (Raimund Pretzel)
Oliver Pretzel translator (son)
Picador 2003 pbk 320 pages ISBN - 10: 0312421133 . . ISBN - 13: 9780312421137
also published by
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1st American edition 2002 ISBN: 0374161577 . . .
and . . .
The Anatomy of Fascism
Robert Owen Paxton 1932-
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2005 pbk 336 pages
ISBN - 10: 1400033918 ISBN - 13: 9781400033911 . . .

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