Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Hannah Arendt



 I highly recommend this article by Roger Berkowitz from The New York Times

 http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/misreading-hannah-arendts-eichmann-in-jerusalem/?hp
 Berkowitz reviews the controversy surrounding the publication of Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, the recent literature over it, including the recent film, Hannah Arendt and concludes that Arendt basically got it right but that she has been largely misunderstood. He writes, "The insight of “Eichmann in Jerusalem” is not that Eichmann was just following orders, but that Eichmann was a “joiner.” In his own words, Eichmann feared “to live a leaderless and difficult individual life,” in which “I would receive no directives from anybody.” Eichmann was also a fanatical Nazi and anti-Semite: She emphasized that Eichmann took enormous pride in his initiative in deporting Jews and also in his willingness to disobey orders to do so, especially Himmler’s clear orders—offered in 1944 in the hope of leniency amid impending defeat—to “take good care of the Jews, act as their nursemaid.” In direct disobedience, Eichmann organized death marches of Hungarian Jews; as Arendt writes, he “sabotaged” Himmler’s orders. As the war ground to an end, as Arendt saw, Eichmann, against Himmler, remained loyal to Hitler’s idea of the Nazi movement and did “his best to make the Final Solution final.”


Another incisive commentary on the insights of Hanna Arendt appeared in The Globe and Mail on August 5th, 2013 by historian John Sainsbury. He reminds us that "evil can spread like a fungus [her metaphor] to smother national communities." She warns us against succumbing to ideologies—any ideology—because of its false claims to rational certainty." Furthermore, there is "no greater evil than the confident presumption of evil in others." The only effective antidote against evil is "individual thinking" and the willingness of individuals to speak out against it.



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