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Sun Mar 20, 2016, 10:32 PM

Hannah Arendt, "'The Decline of the Nation State and the End of the Rights of Man"

which is Chapter Nine of The Origins of Totalitarianism "One of the best political books of the 20th Century"


This is a heavy and thought provoking examination of what are human rights.

Written before the Corporate State, however Fascism was already declared to be corporatism.

what rights didwe have in a world where peoples rights to exist are conditioned on their country and that alone. that was never resolved satisfactorally in the maelstrom at the end of WWII, leaving us with the seeds of another potential Holocaust .

What is wrong with this world is that when the corporation is the highest form of organized life (as is becoming the case now) people are left with little besides an illusory captured state that only exists at the beck and call of the Corporation.

In the superior world they inhabit, humans who do not create wealth for them, which will be almost everybody in the jobless future, because most people wont have an income, don't exist.

Advertising industry and to a lesser extent many politicians already think that way, seeing those over 55 as dead weight, since they do less buying than the young.

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Reply Hannah Arendt, "'The Decline of the Nation State and the End of the Rights of Man" (Original post)
Baobab Mar 2016 OP
bjo59 Mar 2016 #1
Hydra Mar 2016 #2
burrowowl Mar 2016 #3
OnyxCollie Mar 2016 #4

Response to Baobab (Original post)

Sun Mar 20, 2016, 11:04 PM

1. Great recommendation.

Hannah Arendt should be on high school reading lists across the country. Fat chance.

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Response to bjo59 (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 20, 2016, 11:24 PM

2. Too many people don't what to believe what she found

But studies after backed it up.

But it's all science...! Why do we need that??

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Response to Baobab (Original post)

Mon Mar 21, 2016, 12:25 AM

3. K&R!!!!!!

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Response to Baobab (Original post)

Mon Mar 21, 2016, 12:40 AM

4. Arendt replies.


{The Origins of Totalitarianism}: A Reply. Author: Hannah Arendt Source: The Review of Politics, 15(1) (Jan., 1953) pp. 76 - 84.

Thus my first problem was how to write historically about something-totalitarianism-which I did not want to conserve but on the contrary felt engaged to destroy. My way of solving this problem has given rise to the reproach that the book was lacking in unity. What I did -and what I might have done anyway because of my previous training and the way of my thinking-was to discover the chief elements of totalitarianism back in history as far as I deemed proper and necessary. That is, I did not write a history of totalitarianism but an analysis in terms of history; I did not write a history of antisemitism or of imperialism, but analyzed the element of Jew-hatred and the element of expansion insofar as these elements were still clearly visible and played a decisive role in the totalitarian phenomenon itself. The book, therefore, does not really deal with the "origins" of totalitarianism - as its title unfortunately claims - but gives a historical account of the elements which crystallized into totalitarianism, this account is followed by an analysis of the elemental structure of totalitarian movements and domination itself. The elementary structure of totalitarianism is the hidden structure of the book while its more apparent unity is provided by certain fundamental concepts which run like red threads through the whole.

The same problem of method can be approached from another side and then presents itself as a problem of "style." This has been praised as passionate and criticized as sentimental. Both judgments seem to me a little beside the point. I parted quite consciously with the tradition of [i[sine ira et studio of whose greatness I was fully aware, and to me this was a methodological necessity closely connected with my particular subject matter.

Let us suppose - to take one among many possible examples -that the historian is confronted with excessive poverty in a society of great wealth, such-as the poverty of the British working classes during the early stages of the industrial revolution. The natural human reaction to such conditions is one of anger and indignation because these conditions are against the dignity of man. If I describe these conditions without permitting my indignation to interfere, I have lifted this particular phenomenon out of its context in human society and have thereby robbed it of part of its nature, deprived it of one of its important inherent qualities. For to arouse indignation is one of the qualities of excessive poverty insofar as poverty occurs among human beings. I therefore can not agree with Professor Voegelin that the "morally abhorrent and the emotionally existing will overshadow the essential," because I believe them to form an integral part of it. This has nothing to do with sentimentality or moralizing although, of course, either can become a pitfall for the author. If I moralized or became sentimental, I simply did not do well what I was supposed to do, namely to describe the totalitarian phenomenon as occurring, not on the moon, but in the midst of human society. To describe the concentration camps sine ira is not to be "objective," but to condone them; and such cannot be condoning changed by a condemnation which the author may feel duty bound to add but which remains unrelated to the description itself. When I used the image of Hell, I did not mean this allegorically but literally: it seems rather obvious that men who have lost their faith in Paradise, will not be able to establish it on earth; but it is not so certain that those who have lost their belief in Hell as a place of the hereafter may not be willing and able to establish on earth exact imitations of what people used to believe about Hell. In this sense I think that a description of the camps as hell on earth is more "objective," that is, more adequate to their essence than statements of a purely sociological or psychological nature.


Reflections of this kind, originally caused by the special nature of my subject, and the personal experience which is necessarily involved in an historical investigation that employs imagination consciously as an important tool of cognition, resulted in a critical approach toward almost all interpretation of contemporary history. I hinted at this in two short paragraphs of the Preface where I warned the reader against the concepts of Progress and of Doom as "two sides of the same medal" as well as against any attempt at "deducing the unprecedented from precedents." These two approaches are closely interconnected. The reason why Professor Voegelin can speak of "the putrefaction of Western civilization" and the "earthwide expansion of Western foulness" is that he treats "phenomenal differences" which to me as differences of factuality are all-important-as minor outgrowths of some "essential sameness" of a doctrinal nature. Numerous affinities between totalitarianism and some other trends in Occidental political or intellectual history have been described with this result, in my opinion: they all failed to point out the distinct quality of what was actually happening. The "phenomenal differences," far from "obscuring" some essential sameness, are those phenomena which make totalitarianism "totalitarian," which distinguish this one form of government and movement from all others and therefore can alone help us in finding its essence. What is unprecedented in totalitarianism is not primarily its ideological content, but the event of totalitarian domination itself. This can be seen clearly if we have to admit that the deeds of its considered policies have exploded our traditional categories of political thought (totalitarian domination is unlike all forms of tyranny and despotism we know of) and the standards of our moral judgment (totalitarian crimes are very inadequately described as "murder" and totalitarian criminals can hardly be punished as "murderers".

Review Articles TOTALITARIANISM The Revised Standard Version By ROBERT BURROWES*

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 3rd edition, New York, Harcourt, Brace & Company, i966, 526 pp. $8.75.

Arendt's explication moves logically from the non-essential to the essential: from the ascendant totalitarian movement in a nontotalitarian society, to "imperfect" totalitarianism in power, and finally to the "perfected terror" of the concentration camp. The consuming drive for "total domination and global rule" is explained by the fact that totalitarianism remains imperfect and vulnerable as long as the "concentration-camp society" is not coextensive with the entire world.

What she says of the concentration camp might equally be said of her conception of totalitarianism in general: It resembles nothing so much as "medieval pictures of Hell" (447) 22

28 Words of Hate: Rotting In Guantánamo/Hell

On Monday, an already-drawn-out pre-trial hearing for five men accused of conspiring in the 9/11 attacks suddenly went into abrupt recess after detainees said they recognized a courtroom translator as a former CIA worker at one of its black sites. The halt in the proceedings was only one glitch among many facing Guantánamo trials - from mounting backlogs to unwieldy travel to and from Cuba to the FBI’s reported attempted infiltration of defense counsel - recently revealed to be costing US taxpayers at least a whopping $7,600 per minute, or $2,294,117 per day. Though the tribunals only met 34 days last year, they cost over $78 million. That's in addition to the cost of continuing to hold 122 men at Gitmo for an estimated $3.5 million per detainee.

For many, those insane financial costs pale before the even more egregious moral and legal ones. A Senate hearing on a bill that would effectively block the executive branch’s ability to transfer or release those currently still held featured much talk of threats, terrorism and national security. Lacking in the discussion, some noted, was any mention of the human cost of holding so many men under such brutal conditions for so long - up to 13 years - who have never been found guilty of or even charged with a crime - and about half of whom were cleared years ago by the same government that imprisoned them in the first place.

Enter freshman wacko winger Sen. Tom Cotton, who was actually elected. Cotton seemed to stun military officials with his bizarre, pretzel-logic that because terrorism pre-dated Gitmo, how could Gitmo possibly inspire yet more terrorism and anger at the U.S., as opponents often argue. The astute Cotton also seems to have missed the possible connection between the orange jumpsuits worn by ISIS terrorists and prisoners at Guantánamo. Showing a startling level of acumen and empathy, he went onto declare, “In my opinion the only problem with Guantánamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now...As far as I’m concerned, every last one of them can rot in Hell, but as long as they don’t do that they can rot in Guantanamo Bay.”

Some reported the room seemed "oddly quiet" after he spoke those "28 words of hate." Later, lawyers for some of the detainees noted that Cotton in his "reflexive hatred" of their clients didn't seem to get that Guantánamo is, in fact, the same as hell for them. The lawyer for Tariq Ba Odah noted his client arrived at Gitmo in 2002, was on hunger strike for eight years, and has since then been subjected to solitary confinement, violent cell extractions and daily forced feedings through his nose, all without ever being charged with a crime, tried, or allowed to know the length of his sentence. "The anguish this uncertainty produces is hellish indeed," he notes.

Authority in the Twentieth Century
Hannah Arendt
The Role of Politics 18(4) (1956) 403-417.

In contradistinction to both tyrannical and authoritarian regimes, the proper image of totalitarian rule and organization seems to me to be the structure of the onion, in whose center, in a kind of empty space, the leader is located; whatever he does: whether he integrates the body politic as in an authoritarian hierarchy, or oppresses his subjects like a tyrant, he does it from within, and not from without or above. All the extraordinarily manifold parts of the movement: the front organizations, the various professional societies, the party membership, the party hierarchy, the elite formations and police groups, are related in such a way that each forms the facade in one direction and the center in the other, that is, plays the role of normal outside world for one layer and the role of radical extremism for another. The civilian members of Himmler's General SS, for example, represented a rather tine facade of philistine normality to the SS Leader Corps, and at the same time could be trusted to be ideologically more trustworthy and extreme than the ordinary member of the NSDAP.

The same is true for the relationship between sympathizer and party member, between party member and party officer or SAman, between the Gauleiter and a member of the secret police, etc.9 The great advantage of this system is that the movement provides for each of its layers, even under conditions of totalitarian rule, the fiction of a normal world along with a consciousness of being different from and more radical than it. Thus, the sympathizers of the front organizations, whose convictions differ only in intensity from those of the party membership, surround the whole movement and provide a deceptive facade of normality to the outside world because of their lack of fanaticism and extremism while, at the same time, they represent the normal world to the totalitarian movement whose members come to believe that their convictions differ only in degree from those of other people, so that they need never be aware of the abyss which separates their own world from that which actually surrounds it. The onion structure makes the system organizationally shock-proof against the factuality of the real world.

The second advantage of this type of organization is that it permits a kind of double-talk of great importance to the relationship between totalitarian regimes and the outside, non-totalitarian world. In close correspondence with the dual role of each layer- to act as facade in one direction and as interior center in the other-stands the curious fact that the same official pronouncements frequently can be understood either as mere propaganda or as serious indoctrination. Hitler's violently nationalistic speeches, for instance, which he used to address to his officer corps, were meant as indoctrination for the officers of the Wehrmacht; within the higher Nazi hierarchy, however, where the slogan of "Right is what is good for the German people" had even officially been replaced by "Right is what is good for the Movement," 10 they were nothing but propaganda for an outside world not yet "mature" enough to understand the true aims of the movement.

It would lead us too far afield to show how this particular structure is connected with the fact: that totalitarian rule is based on a movement in the word's most literal significance, that the movement is international in scope, that the rise to power in one country does not mean that the totalitarian ruler cuts himself loose from the interest or goal of the movement as a whole, and that, consequently, the country in which he happens to seize power is much less the seat and source of his personal power than the headquarters for the movement itself.

Review Articles TOTALITARIANISM The Revised Standard Version By ROBERT BURROWES*

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 3rd edition, New York, Harcourt, Brace & Company, i966, 526 pp. $8.75.

Carl J. Friedrich and Zbigniew K. Brzezinski, Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy, 2nd edition, revised by Carl J. Friedrich, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, i965, 439 pp. $9.95.

Arendt's conception of totalitarianism is that of a "fictitious, topsy-turvy world" (437). The most striking feature of that world is less the omnipresence than the non-utilitarian character of terror. Unlike the terror of other systems, totalitarian terror is not understandable in terms of the utilitarian motives or self-interest of the rulers. It is explicable only as a means to the insane, anti-utilitarian and selfless "experimental inquiry into what is possible" (436, 440).

The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings

In its response to the Senate report, the CIA justified its decision to hire the duo: “We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program.” Mitchell and Jessen’s qualifications did not include interrogation experience, specialized knowledge about Al Qaeda or relevant cultural or linguistic knowledge. What they had was Air Force experience in studying the effects of torture on American prisoners of war, as well as a curiosity about whether theories of “learned helplessness” derived from experiments on dogs might work on human enemies.

To implement those theories, Mitchell and Jessen oversaw or personally engaged in techniques intended to produce “debility, disorientation and dread.” Their “theory” had a particular means-ends relationship that is not well understood, as Mitchell testily explained in an interview on Vice News: “The point of the bad cop is to get the bad guy to talk to the good cop.” In other words, “enhanced interrogation techniques” (the Bush administration’s euphemism for torture) do not themselves produce useful information; rather, they produce the condition of total submission that will facilitate extraction of actionable intelligence.


But here we are again. This brings us back to Mitchell and Jessen. Because of their experience as trainers in the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) program, after 9/11 they were contacted by high-ranking Pentagon officials and, later, by lawyers who wanted to know whether some of those SERE techniques could be reverse-engineered to get terrorism suspects to talk.

The road from abstract hypotheticals (can SERE be reverse-engineered?) to the authorized use of waterboarding and confinement boxes runs straight into the terrain of human experimentation. On April 15, 2002, Mitchell and Jessen arrived at a black site in Thailand to supervise the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, the first “high-value detainee” captured by the CIA. By July, Mitchell proposed more coercive techniques to CIA headquarters, and many of these were approved in late July. From then until the program was dry-docked in 2008, at least thirty-eight people were subjected to psychological and physical torments, and the results were methodically documented and analyzed. That is the textbook definition of human experimentation.

CIA torture appears to have broken spy agency rule on human experimentation

Sections of a previously classified CIA document, made public by the Guardian on Monday, empower the agency’s director to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research”. The leeway provides the director, who has never in the agency’s history been a medical doctor, with significant influence over limitations the US government sets to preserve safe, humane and ethical procedures on people.


The relevant section of the CIA document, “Law and Policy Governing the Conduct of Intelligence Agencies”, instructs that the agency “shall not sponsor, contract for, or conduct research on human subjects” outside of instructions on responsible and humane medical practices set for the entire US government by its Department of Health and Human Services.

A keystone of those instructions, the document notes, is the “subject’s informed consent”.


The previously unknown section of the guidelines empower the CIA director and an advisory board on “human subject research” to “evaluate all documentation and certifications pertaining to human research sponsored by, contracted for, or conducted by the CIA”.

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