Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hannah Arendt

Here a few quotations from Hannah Arendt from The Origins of Totalitarianism.  This book seems to demonstrate the usefulness of theory once and for all.  Without Arendt, one could hardly make sense of the plethora of memoirs concerning the absurdities related to Stalinism.

"Real power begins where secrecy begins."

"..the principle of authority is in all important respects diametrically opposed to that of totalitarian domination."

"The complete absence of successful or unsuccessful palace revolutions is one of the most remarkable characteristics of totalitarian dictatorships."

"The multiplicity of offices destroys all sense of responsibility and competence"

"Constant removal, demotion, and promotion make reliable teamwork impossible and prevent the development of experience."

"To be sure, totalitarian dictators do not consciously embark upon the road to insanity."

"They therefore consider no country as permanently foreign, but, on the contrary, every country as their potential territory."

"For economic purposes, the totalitarian regimes are as much at home in their countries as the proverbial swarms of locusts."

"...those who rightly understand the terrible efficiency of totalitarian organization and police are likely to overestimate the material force of totalitarian countries, while those who understand the wasteful incompetence of totalitarian economics are likely to underestimate the power potential which can be created in disregard of all material factors."

"Only after the extermination of real enemies has been completed and the hunt for 'objective enemies' begun does terror become the actual content of totalitarian regimes."

"Multiplication of secret services makes last-minute changes possible, so that one branch may be preparing to bestow the Order of Lenin on the director of a factory while another makes arranges for his arrest."

"Free consent is as much an obstacle to total domination as free opposition."

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