Hannah Arendt was certainly not the first person to mediate on the problem and ramifications of thoughtless evil. As opposed to the cunning, conscious and coherent variety. Her reflections of course, were not entirely understood, or else appropriated to serve diverse ends that Arendt could not have foreseen, a sort of tug-of-war with Ayn Rand. But, like Samuel Beckett at around the same time, there is an allegorical component to this philosophy of the absurd as well. That is, instead og pawing around, and groping after evil in the dark, there is an effort to zone-in on what is left standing in its wake. Individual bodies and a collective consciousness suffering from the disease of misplaced desire, crumbling foundations and the specter of total annihilation, the long shadow of nihilism that pervaded her Responsibility and Judgement; the raising of questions, the weight of doubt and the overall concept of being “without a path to guide fragile and unstable thinking overly influenced by complacency, inertia, dealt with by a highly analytic and rational attitude towards uncertainty and foggy perimeter of “knowingness.”
What arose, not surprisingly, was a psychology that had to come to terms with apparent irrationality. With regard to Zionism, the conflict was partially framed within an idea that the Arab states tended toward violence because they were weak with regard to the relationship between power and violence which was found to be inversely proportional meaning they resort to violence when they lack power, not having the luxury of basking in Enlightenment ideals. Famously, she once wrote, “it seems as though the one argument the Arabs are incapable of understanding is force.” This is debatable, but within her theory, a social theory, the goals of a totalitarian regime have little interest in practical concerns such as health and education, but rather fiddling around, at best, with what they view as the redemptive qualities of an ideology of the deranged, which requires preponderant force to resist the basics of reality giving rise to situations of complete terror and trauma the better to organize the masses into robot-style predictability. The takeaway is that the so-called will to resist is an uncommon exception, not only to Jews in the Holocaust but all the victims of ideologies of tyranny who lack any means, no mechanism to exercise collective action that is not steeped in a Masada complex.
Arendt’s ideas that the Nazified impulse of the Jews to participate in their own death, a sort of complicity, blurred the boundaries between criminal and innocent, which was a minefield she may have theorized intentionally to provoke. However, her analysis of the psychological complexity within in secular Jewish creativity and her own critic of the relationship between exile and a shelter in the storm through assimilation seem on safer terrain, though her antipathy towards Judaism, its bundle of spiritual and critical content are absent from the critique, and so it became a purely intellectual endeavor to advocate Jewish collective politics without the underlying influence of the Torah, Kabbalah and the spirit of creating a whole new world within the seeds of what transpired at Mount Sinai. Without this chunk of thought she may have taken the path of least resistance in re-working ideas on the necessity of pluralism as the dawn of post-modernism arose.
Arendt never ventured into the realm where one could compare Judaism and the other religions and what impact this may have had on the dynamics of totalitarianism; Judaism and the central role that memory plays as opposed to the more vigorous role of history which tends towards facts and material that lends itself to the intellectual aspect of human conduct. Memory, by contrast is herded toward the spiritual, like a shepherd, attaching the material event with underlying meanings broaching morals and ethics. In this respect with regard to the Shoah, it was a miracle there was any resistance at all, that there was any sort of leadership that arose and any organizational structures that could flourish and survive within a satanic context.
(see link at end) David Satter:Regarding the first point, she identified that lack of moral grounding and escalation of cynicism that allowed fanatical movements to attract followers and sympathizers among wide segments of the population. The followers provided the ideological hard core with vital support and made it seem more reasonable than it really was. In fact, the ability of an ideological hard core to attract persons who share their values but may balk at their methods is an important reason why small groups of fanatics can pose such a lethal threat.
In her discussion of ideology, Arendt defines a word that is widely used but little understood. The search for truth is a dialogic process in which a person must always be ready to test his conclusions against a changing reality. Ideology interrupts this process. It takes a single proposition and applies it to all aspects of reality. It is, as Arendt wrote, the “logic of an idea” but a logic which is never tested against empirical realityon the contrary, re-envisages reality in accordance with its own internal requirements.
With Arendt’s definition in mind, we are equipped to understand the monomaniacal core of modern ideologies, their contempt for reality and emancipation from, “all the plausibilities of the world,” (Burke). We can also see the ways in which ideological thinking pervades political discourse even in a democratic society.
Finally, Arendt defines totalitarianism as the combination of ideology and terror.Read More:http://frontpagemag.com/2010/jamie-glazov/symposium-is-hannah-arendt-still-relevant/
… Roger Berkowitz:The political lies Arendt worries about are not mere falsehoods. They are political acts in which facts are denied and alternative realities are created. In denying facts, the political liar acts to change the world, to make reality anew so that it conforms to our needs and desires. In this way, lying is at the essence of political action. ( Harpers) …