By Richard H. King
Situating Arendt in the context of U.S. highbrow, political, and social heritage, King unearths how Arendt constructed a fascination with the political considered the Founding Fathers. King additionally re-creates her highbrow exchanges with American buddies and co-workers, equivalent to Dwight Macdonald and Mary McCarthy, and indicates how her energetic correspondence with sociologist David Riesman helped her comprehend sleek American tradition and society. within the final component of Arendt and America, King units out the context within which the Eichmann controversy happened and follows the controversy approximately “the banality of evil” that has endured ever in view that. As King exhibits, Arendt’s paintings, despite concentration, used to be formed by way of postwar American inspiration, tradition, and politics, together with the Civil Rights move and the chilly War.
For Arendt, the us was once even more than a shelter from Nazi Germany; it used to be a stimulus to reconsider the political, moral, and old traditions of human tradition. This authoritative mixture of highbrow historical past and biography deals a different method for puzzling over the impact of the US on Arendt’s principles and likewise the impact of her principles on American thought.
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Extra info for Arendt and America
28 In fact, neither the extermination of the Jews, Slavs, and Gypsies nor the creation of what Arendt would later call “superfluous” human beings, enhanced German military and economic power. If anything, the reverse was the case. 29 Overall, Macdonald’s article, along with his rejoinders to his readers, proposed several senses in which the totalitarian system was rational or irrational. The first had to do with the distinction between an irrational end, the extermination of the Jews, and rational, value-neutral means (a wellorganized, international rail network) to deliver them to extermination centers.
18 Before turning directly to Arendt’s “Organized Guilt” and Macdonald’s “Responsibility of Peoples,” a look at her Partisan Review essay of early 1945 “Approaches to the ‘German Problem’” is in order. Combining broad historical reportage with sharp political analysis, it was the first of several Arendt essays in which she assumed the quasi-Tocquevillean role as bridge between America and Europe. In line with her opposition to the idea of collective guilt, she argued firmly against identifying “fascism with Germany’s national character” and seeing Nazism as a direct product of the German, much less the Western, tradition.
Germans clearly risked persecution and prosecution for speaking out against German policy in a way that American or British citizens did not. If there was a mystical or actual bond between the German people and their leader, so there also seemed to be one between Americans and their president, the British and their prime minister. From this perspective, American and British citizens could hardly claim greater moral or political virtue than their German counterparts. 38 Chapter 1 Impact and Implications These mid-1940s essays by Macdonald and Arendt exerted considerable influence over the next quarter century, at least among independent leftists.