The Origins of Totalitarianism

Paperback | February 1, 2001

byHannah Arendt

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Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism and an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time-Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia-which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.

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Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism and an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak ...

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) taught political science and philosophy at The New School for Social Research in New York and the University of Chicago. Widely acclaimed as a brilliant and original thinker, her works include Eichmann in Jerusalem and The Human Condition.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:576 pages, 8.02 × 7.6 × 1.5 inPublished:February 1, 2001Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0156701537

ISBN - 13:9780156701532

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from excerpts “Antisemitism” At the foundation of the "nation-states" the jews were amongst the few who were willing to finance the royal courts. With time, the financial neccesities grew and more and more jews were involved and habe been granted special privileges before the XIX century when equal rights for all the citizens were introduced. “Equality of condition, though it is certainly a basic requirement for justice, is nevertheless, among the greatest and most uncertain ventures of modern mankind. The more equal conditions are, the less explanation there is for the differences that actually exists between people; and thus, all the more unequal do individuals and groups become.” Between pariah and parvenu. The Dreyfus affair – Alfred Dreyfus, Walsin Eszterhazy, Picquart, Clemenceau, Zola The Panama scandal, in which there are (only) 2 Jews known as intermediaries between corrupt politicians and the Panama Company. Jacques Reinach & Cornelius Herz. 500.000 middle French lost their fortunes. The illegal acquittal trough the Court of Appeals was a compromise. “Imperialism” Differences between French and British expansion Hobbes’ theory of power, based on the primordial human instinct to kill, leads to Tyranny in the end. (“I think the toleration of a professed hatred of Tyranny, is a toleration of hatred to Commonwealth in general…”. Membership in any community is a temporary and limited affair (Hobbes’ Man owes no loyalty to his country if it has been defeated and is excused for every treachery if it happens to be taken prisoner) which essentially does not change the solitary and private character of the individual. 1853, Count Arthur de Gobineau – “ Essai sur l’Inegalite des Races Humaines” concerned with the problem of Decadence 30 years before Nietzsche. Nietzsche was writing though at the climax of this movement, Gobineau was the last heir of the Boulanvilliers and the French exiled nobility (the theory of german origin of the French nobles). Gobineau was looking for a definition and creation of an “elite” class to replace the aristocracy – the Aryans. Ernest Renan wasprobably the first to oppose the Semites to the Aryans although he held civilization to be the great superior force which destroys local originalities as well as original race differences.It is highly probable that the thinking in terms of race would have disappeared in due time together with other irresponsible opinions on the nineteenth century, if the “scramble for Africa” and the new era of imperialism had not exposed western humanity to new and shocking experiences. Imperialism would have necessitated the invention of racism as the only possible “explanation” and excuse for its deeds. South Africa & the Jews Pan-Germanism, Pan-Slavism, bureaucracy “Totalitarianism” The nazis practically copying the ideas of “The protocols of Elders of Zion” to dominate the world. Fictitious world, fictitious conspiracies. Organization -> front, sympathizers, members … leader. SA->SS were more political than military. The radicalization began immediately at the outbreak of war .One might surmise that one of Hitler’s reasons for provoking this war was to accelerate the development in a manner that would have been unthinkable in peace time. In the first year of war, Germany was able to cover her entire preparatory war expenses of the years ’33 to ’39. Totalitarianism differs essentially from other forms of political oppression known to us such as despotism, tyranny and dictatorship. Wherever it rose to power, it developed entirely new political institutions and destroyed all social, legal and political traditions of the country. No matter what the specifically national traditions or the particular spiritual source of its ideology, totalitarian government always classes into masses, supplanted the party system not by one-party dictatorships, but by a mass movement, shifted the center of power from the army to the police, and established a foreign policy openly directed toward world domination. What the definition of governments always needed was what Montesquieu called “a principle of action” (…). Such guiding principles and criteria of action, are according to Montesquieu, honor in a monarchy, virtue in a republic and fear in a tyranny. Isolation – loneliness of individuals, premises for totalitarian, tyrannical governments.
Date published: 2007-10-06

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Editorial Reviews

Schocken's is the first hardcover edition of Arendt's 1951 volume to be available in decades. The book begins its study with European anti-Semitism in the 1800s and moves up to Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany, which the author fled in the 1930s. This edition sports a new introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha