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The Origins of Totalitarianism Paperback – March 21, 1973
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—Karl Jaspers, in a letter to Hannah Arendt (1955) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The book is divided into three main sections: Antisemitism, Imperialism, and Totalitarianism. In the first section, Arendt tracks the rise of antisemitism in Europe, looking mainly at 19th Century events and situations that aided the spread of this phenomenon through European culture. The Dreyfus Affair, which sharply divided France and ultimately became a political battle between antisemites and their opponents at the end of the 19th Century, gets more attention than any other event in this chapter.
In the middle section on imperialism, Arendt shows how the rise and fall of the continental European imperialist movements of the 19th Century (mainly, Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism) helped set the stage for their 20th Century totalitarian successors. As she puts it in opening the chapter on "the Pan Movements": "Nazism and Bolshevism owe more to Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism (respectively) than to any other ideology or political movement. This is most evident in foreign politics, where the strategies of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia have followed so closely the well-known programs of conquest outlined by the pan-movements before and during the first World War that totalitarian aims have frequently been mistaken for the pursuance of some permanent German or Russian interests. While neither Hitler nor Stalin has ever acknowledged his debt to imperialism in the development of his methods of rule, neither has hesitated to admit his indebtedness to the pan-movements' ideology or to imitate their slogans.Read more ›
The first section of the book deals with antisemitism which Miss Arendt argues was a cornerstone of later totalitarianism. She argues that the gradual development of mass culture and mass politics resulted in targeting and scapegoating any target minority such as Jews. She explains that antisemitism was a gradual political movement that exploded in the late 19th and especially in the 20th century. A different thesis could have been presented, but thus far this is the best one this reviewer has read.
Part two of the book explains how imperialism and racism merged especailly during the Age of Nationalism. Religious discord was replaced by sociological and political theories that not only extolled nation but also race and blood. This section deals with these two concepts both in Western Europe and Eastern Europe. One must remember that persecution of Jews was particulary lethal in Eastern Europe between World War I and World War II and espeically during The Second World War.
Part three of the book is the best section of THE ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM. If readers have difficutly with sections one and two of this book, they owe it to themselves to at least read section three.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I did not finish reading this book because due to its title I expected something different. Mrs. A. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Manfred Finkhaeuser
An amazing book. Nearly half of it deals with the political uses of racism. Also Ms Arendt explores the refugee problem in great depth. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Frances Reed
A very insightful book into the greatest disasters modern man has unleashed upon himself. A great read for this day and age, as it is easy to draw parallels between the political... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Flash1
Great views on totalitarianism. A well thought out book that requires careful reading.Published 5 months ago by charleshlapo
Too long and boring. Repeats itself a lot. Jk,j jhkh hang gmail high guy HHS Hyundai jhkh gig jug jhkhPublished 5 months ago by Kenneth Townsend
Well writen and with a lot of good examples.
However you sometimes miss that the autor use more time to theorize about the possibility that parts of the totalitarian... Read more