Arendt on Totalitarianism


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I wrote my Master’s thesis on the works of Hannah Arendt. I return to her words often, especially now, as she wrote a lot about totalitarianism, having escaped Nazi Germany as a Jewish woman. This is from an obscure essay that I was reading last night, a couple of quotes seem fitting…

“Complicity is, strictly speaking, one of the privileges of the elite units.”

While there were some critics of the Women’s Marches, in which over one million people participated worldwide, it is clear that people, women especially, will not be complicit in condoning a Donald Trump presidency. However, the majority of them are not the elite. Trump has assembled a cast of elites who do not seem as though they will question him, at least with any force. So a sustained resistance against the elites bolstering him is necessary.

Here is Ms. Arendt again, with a warning that casts some light on the illogical and megalomaniacal nature of Trump’s ramblings:

In other words, it is the underlying conviction of all totalitarian transformation ideologies into reality that they will come true no matter if they are true or not.

This brings to mind Kellyanne Conway’s assertion of “alternative facts.”

Journalism has had an existential crisis as a result of the recent U.S. election, but it must reassemble itself as an effective force in the face of a Trump presidency. I am thinking about this more than ever as I embark on a new term of educating young journalism students. What is the responsibility of a journalist? We will be discussing this at length, but one thing I know for sure, is that an “alternative fact” is the language of a propagandist.

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