Arendt on Trial

Putting my newsman’s hat on for a moment, in light of the story about ISIS/ISIL and the speechifying at the UN yesterday. Seems there are parallels to Europe in the 1930s with respect to the way that movement is attracting disaffected youth to their cause. It reminds me of the way people like Ernest Hemingway went to fight Franco’s army in the Spanish Civil war, while Hitler backed Franco.

This section caught my eye:

“In other words, evil originates in the neediness of lonely, alienated bourgeois people who live lives so devoid of higher meaning that they give themselves fully to movements. Such joiners are not stupid; they are not robots. But they are thoughtless in the sense that they abandon their independence, their capacity to think for themselves, and instead commit themselves absolutely to the fictional truth of the movement. It is futile to reason with them. They inhabit an echo chamber, having no interest in learning what others believe. It is this thoughtless commitment that permits idealists to imagine themselves as heroes and makes them willing to employ technological implements of violence in the name of saving the world.”


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