Hannah Arendt is one of the best of 20th Century America’s imported political philosophers, historians, and brooders of contemporary society. I’d recommend her over Ayn Rand for instance, most days of the week. And for her salience, she is being assailed by one of our Columbia University-ish “thought leaders.” No surprise there.
The matter of contention in this instance is, from one of Arendt’s books, that the collectivist Nazi’s worshipful groupthink was probably the chief corruptive force of the holocaust (and of Nazi atrocity in general, one might assume) – even moreso than antisemitism, as very evil as that is. (After all, they killed millions of others, too.)
But naturally, when one criticizes collectivist hive mindedness, it offends those attempting to dance with the queen bee of the hive. (Let’s call her Baphomet, for more than fun; a clue as to why collectivism and antisemitism so tend to go hand in hand.) So, Arendt’s thesis and to a degree her character along with it, had to be attacked. So, Professor Mark Lilla sort of flew at her.
Here appears a thought-provoking summary of Arendt’s findings and musings in her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem. Not by Arendt (her writing, although very insightful tends to be sort of post-enlightenment-philosopher-cumbersome) it is scribed by Roger Berkowitz of the The Hannah Arendt Center for Humanities at Bard College.
His article gets right to it (emphasis added after it sets the stage):
It is now more than 50 years since Hannah Arendt published Eichmann in Jerusalem. It is neither her best nor her most important book, yet it does contain essential and important insights. Above all, it offers us the example of a man who, as Arendt saw and understood him, moved fairly seamlessly from being an anti-Semite to a genocidal murderer. Arendt asked: How is it that Eichmann and others like him morphed so easily from an anti-Semite to a mass murderer?
Arendt’s book is justly famous because it posed this deeply important question and offered an answer that has, over time, come to be seen as persuasively right. In short, it is the case that modern systems of administratively organized murder and criminality depend upon the collaboration and work of many people who, while they support the general goals of the regime, would not otherwise imagine themselves criminals and murderers. These people act out of conviction, but they seek to justify what they do in clichés and bureaucratic language. They take pride not only in their dutifulness, but also in their initiative and support for carrying out the goals of the regime.
Ordinary in many ways and far from being cold-blooded killers, they nevertheless willingly and even enthusiastically participate in an administrative machinery of death. They are able to do so, Arendt suggested, because they close themselves off from others and come to think in an echo chamber where they hear and credit no opinions that challenge their own. This shallow thoughtlessness—Arendt elsewhere calls dumbness—is what she names the banality that allows modern regimes of evil to cause such horrifically and decidedly non-banal evil.
Berkowitz’ entire article comes recommended. I commented after it there; so here too, if you please:
Without examining Arendt’s critics cited here, it appears they are bristling at her warnings of being hive minded. Could they be collectivists doing the criticizing? (An honest question, perhaps someone knows their works and leanings.)
Nearly anyone from any of the “31 flavors” of neo-Marxism tends to turn odd colors and their neck veins bulge when it is pointed out how close fascism is to what they propound. The collective must be defended – against collectivists too!
So sorry to burst the bubble of “#UniteBlue,” but neo-Marxism has essentially become globalist fascism, with sons of former hammer-and-sicklers and sons of former swastika-and-Luger flailers all joining hands at the upswing of Revolution 21: Fabianism accelerated. Humbly, I suggest it all be called Marxofascism. Their 20th Century wars with each other were all just collectivists’ intramural rivalry in goosestep, with flying entrails and bureaucratic policies, anyway. So their grandkids made peace, all fed by the same globalist mammon complex, so what?
So pay very close attention to it.
And don’t fall for the distracting show of those who actually call themselves “Neo-Nazis;” not any more than one should focus on the wacky People’s Republic of Korea, to understand what the real centralizing powers are doing in the world, now.
And consider the American and worldwide holocaust of abortion, now taxpayer financed through Obamacare, perhaps its very first broken promise. And violence is not just physical bloodletting. The institutional theft of excessive and extortive taxes and public debt, to run the collectivist control and dependence machine while its orchestrators indulge in its profits, is also violence. And the burgeoning surveillance and police state is violence. On and on, we are all being systematically violated, though so many perversely like it, so many minds so thoroughly brought into the hive. And the ones who suffer most are the defenseless ones, with not even a voice of their own to be heard – children whom Jesus the Messiah called “the least of these my bretheren,” a quote which the mind-numbingly hypocritical Barack Hussein Obama himself has deemed useful in his pressing the kleptocratic power-state down upon us. Violence. Evil.
After posting the note, I looked just briefly into this Hannah harasser, Mark Lilla – and sure enough, he bears classic bona fides of a Frankfurt School neo-Marxist, buzzing from the University of Michigan to Harvard, to New York U., to Grandpa Rockefeller’s U. of Chicago, and on to Columbia U. (Critical Theory Central in America) with stops at Oxford, Yale, etc., all the while looking for the sweet nectar of whatever minds he finds, as the crossed-up pollination of collectivism’s cause carries on. “Forward!” as the Obamunists cry (well, they don’t really cry that, it’s just drawn-up for them in crisp, electronic and printed graphics).
But after the Bible and the important works of ones such as Algernon Sidney, John Locke, and Adam Smith, along with Samuel Adams and the rest of our founders, among others, I suggest Hannah Arendt.
I “had to” read much of her excellent book On Revolution, upon first setting foot in Richard Clossman’s classes at Judson University (yet another college which has since been quite tainted by globalist sustainability-think… still need to have a long talk with some folks in Elgin, Illinois, but that’s another subject). On Revolution is a masterful analysis of how the proto-Marxist Jacobin’s French Revolution failed, due to their focus upon enforced egalitarianism (bloody-red groupthink violence freshly spurt in the West) while the American Revolution succeeded to the extent that it was led by a truly enlightening standard of personal freedom. And what I humbly suggest that personal freedom’s politics be called at its core is: popular sovereignty under God.
One more consideration please, about these words of Roger Berkowitz, regarding Hanna Arendt’s understanding of controlled groupthink:“They take pride not only in their dutifulness, but also in their initiative and support for carrying out the goals of the regime.”
And the consideration I ask to be paired up with this comes from one of the 20th Century’s greatest and very nearly unsung heroes, Norman Dodd, former young banker turned whistleblower, turned lead investigator for the 1952-53 Reece Commission of Congress (transcript, video). Below, I’ll emphasize his words which fit so well those emphasized, above.
He reported to Congress what he discovered about the financial and political world-handlers and pseudo-enlightenment thinkers of his time; those financially behind not only the great collectivist mega-thugs of foreign nations, but of Woodrow Wilson, World War I, America’s involvement in it, and the League of Nations. (And as Diana West’s new mental block busting book, American Betrayal relates, Franklin Roosevelt and his people were also very much a part of at least the broadest valence in the hive complex, along with Stalin’s Alger Hiss and his United Nations. She’s also taken a lot of guff, for documenting what she discovered.)
In a 1982 interview by G. Edward Griffin, Dodd speaks of their desire to blend the controlling influence of Marxism with the energy of America.
Griffin: Why do the foundations generously support communist causes in the United States?
Dodd: Well, because, to them, communism represents a means of developing what we call a monopoly — as the organization, we’ll say, of large-scale industry into an administrable unit.
Griffin: Do they think that they will…
Dodd: They will be the beneficiary of it, yes.
And prior to that exchange came this, about the Wilson/Rockefeller era’s collectivist-capturing of many of the great American foundations and influencers of education, as a means of controlling young minds, bringing them into the overall hive; Dodd again:
That group of twenty historians ultimately becomes the nucleus of the American Historical Association. And then, toward the end of the 1920’s, the Endowment grants to the American Historical Association four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000) for a study of our history in a manner which points to what can this country look forward to, in the future.
And that culminates in a seven-volume study, the last volume of which is, of course, in essence, a summary of the contents of the other six. The essence of the last volume is: the future of this country belongs to collectivism, administered with characteristic American efficiency.
Extra credit for free thinkers including tea partiers, preppers, and any un-mic-checked occupiers: in On… look into Arendt’s treatment of Thomas Jefferson’s ideas of the “Swiss canton,” as a neighborhood building block for what republicanism should look like.
Arlen Williams in Twitter: @ArlenWms