Arendt and America by Richard H. King

By Richard H. King

German-Jewish political thinker Hannah Arendt (1906–75) fled from the Nazis to manhattan in 1941, and through the following thirty years in the USA she wrote her best-known and so much influential works, equivalent to The Human situation, The Origins of Totalitarianism, and On Revolution. but, even though a considerable section of her oeuvre used to be written in the US, now not Europe, nobody has at once thought of the effect of the United States on her thought—until now. In Arendt and America, historian Richard H. King argues that whereas all of Arendt’s paintings used to be haunted via her adventure of totalitarianism, it was once basically in her followed place of birth that she was once capable of formulate the belief of the fashionable republic instead to totalitarian rule.
Situating Arendt in the context of U.S. highbrow, political, and social background, King unearths how Arendt built a fascination with the political considered the Founding Fathers. King additionally re-creates her highbrow exchanges with American associates and co-workers, akin to Dwight Macdonald and Mary McCarthy, and exhibits how her full of life correspondence with sociologist David Riesman helped her comprehend sleek American tradition and society. within the final part of Arendt and America, King units out the context within which the Eichmann controversy happened and follows the controversy approximately “the banality of evil” that has persisted ever given that.  As King exhibits, Arendt’s paintings, despite concentration, used to be formed by means of postwar American concept, tradition, and politics, together with the Civil Rights stream and the chilly War.

For Arendt, the U.S. was once even more than a safe haven from Nazi Germany; it used to be a stimulus to reconsider the political, moral, and historic traditions of human tradition. This authoritative mixture of highbrow background and biography bargains a different strategy for wondering the effect of the USA on Arendt’s rules and likewise the influence of her rules on American thought.

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Another contributor to this tradition, Randolph Bourne, condemned John Dewey’s instrumentalist philosophy for failing to explore the dubious morality of supporting the American participation in World War I as a way of creating a more progressive society. Then in light of the Moscow Trials of the 1930s and Soviet charges against Leon Trotsky, Marxism itself was attacked for justifying the use of any means necessary to achieve its revolutionary ends. The related matter of ethical relativism was also much debated, since the Marxian teaching was that all morality was class morality, that is, it was socially and historically shaped by class interests.

New Left thinker-polemicist, Noam Chomsky, also belongs in this tradition; indeed, his influential antiwar essay of 1966– 67, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” explicitly acknowledged how much Macdonald’s work had shaped his thinking. ”54 Not only Macdonald’s essay but many others printed in Politics supplied the moral and political resources on which the New Left drew, especially in its formative years of the late 1950s and early 1960s. 55 Arendt herself was struck by the importance that moral questions, and political questions couched morally, had in the thought and action of the 1960s student movement in the United States.

20 Arendt spent the second half of the essay exploring the prospects for a republican and federal Europe. Specifically, she thought it should involve “nationalizing German heavy industry” and coordinating production in the industrial heartland of western Germany, eastern France, and Belgium. Anything like the Morgenthau Plan to dismantle German’s industrial capability, she thought, could lead to the extermination of millions of Germans. She also prophetically noted the “sinister” implications of the proposed “population transfers” in eastern and central Europe.

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