Hannah Arendt

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Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was a German political theorist and writer. Her works include The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem.

The Origins of Totalitarianism

Published in 1951, The Origins of Totalitarianism was an analysis of the rise of the various totalitarian regimes of the early 20th century, specifically those in the USSR and Germany, rejecting the label for other countries with similar governments such as Spain and Italy. In multiple cases, Arendt traces the roots of totalitarianism to racism and an expansion of a country beyond natural boundaries.

The Human Condition

The Human Condition was published in 1958 and addresses the variety of ways people have participated in public life in the history of Western civilization.

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

In 1960, Adolf Eichmann, called the "Architect of the Holocaust," was arrested in Argentina and brought to Jerusalem to stand trial. Hannah Arendt covered the trial for The New Yorker and published her thoughts on matter in 1963. In this work, she coined the phrase she has become best known for, the "banality of evil" - referring to the fact that Adolf Eichmann was not a psychopath or other kind of maniac, but a "normal" man who had accepted the evil of the Nazi regime because it came from a place of authority.

Important Quotes

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, she wrote on the ideological connection between Darwin and Hitler.

Underlying the Nazis’ belief in race laws as the expression of the law of nature in man, is Darwin’s idea of man as the product of a natural development which does not necessarily stop with the present species of human being.”[1]