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Thursday, June 13, 2024

‘A Truer Reality Beyond Reality’: Hannah Arendt’s Warning About How Totalitarianism Takes Root

‘A Truer Reality Beyond Reality’: Hannah Arendt’s Warning About How Totalitarianism Takes Root

A Q&A with a leading Arendt scholar adapts the philosopher’s ideas to today’s politics.

By JOANNA WEISS, Politico 

A growing body of research warns that the United States is experiencing a loneliness crisis. The U.S. surgeon general has cited loneliness as a public health risk. Researchers have found that loneliness makes people more likely to be angry and resentful, and more vulnerable to extremism.

Loneliness could represent a political threat, as well: a pathway to demagogues, mobs and destructive ideologies. That was an argument the German-born philosopher Hannah Arendt made in 1951 in The Origins of Totalitarianism, which examined the social elements that led to Stalinism and Nazism. And it’s an argument that some readers and scholars of Arendt are recirculating today.

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