Tomás Quintero: Unit 3 Assignment 1

Hannah Arendt, Banality of Evil, Origins of Totalitarianism, Adolf Eichmann

  • Britannica, Hannah Arendt (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hannah-Arendt):
    • Jewish Political Scientist and Philosopher––PhD Philosophy
      • Studied totalitarianism
      • Wrote on Jewish affairs
    • Dates:
      • B: October 14, 1906
        • Grew up in Germany+Prussia
        • Fled to Paris 
        • Settled in NYC
      • D: December 4, 1975
    • Origins of Totalitarianism––1951
      • First major publication
        • Regarding topics that include imperialism, totalitarianism, scientific racism, propaganda, and antisemitism
    • Controversial work: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963)
      • Claimed that Eichmann’s crimes were not based on evil character, but rather, by not thinking and only focusing on succeeding in his role
        • The role of coordinating mass extermination of Jewish people
      • That Eichmann was not inherently evil
        • Backlash from intellectual of all backgrounds––Jewish and non-Jewish
  • Britannica, Adolf Eichmann (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Adolf-Eichmann):
    • High German Military Official
      • “Chief Executioner”
    • Dates:
      • B: March 19, 1906
        • Grew up in Germany
        • Lost his job at an oil company in Germany during the depression 
        • Joined the Nazi Party April 1932
        • Went to hiding post-war and captured by Mossad in Argentina May 1, 1960
      • D: May 31, 1962
        • Executed via hanging by State of Israel for role in the Holocaust––Ayalon Prison
          • Crimes against peace, war crimes (murder, ill treatment, deportation), and crimes against humanity (genocide, persecution against civilians based on religion, politics, and race)
    • Became a member of the SS in November 1932
      • Dealt with Jewish affairs––January 1942: Final Solution
        • Organized the logistics for mass execution
          • Identification, assembly, transportation of people to concentration camps
  • Aeon, The Banality of Evil (https://aeon.co/ideas/what-did-hannah-arendt-really-mean-by-the-banality-of-evil):
    • Big question: Can one do evil without being evil?
      • Arendt studied what Eichmann did when he organized the transportation and murder of 5 million Jews via Final Solution
    • Stated that Eichmann just wanted to progress in his career as a bureaucrat with the Nazis
      • Eichmann executed evil deeds without the evil intention
        • Simply a bureaucrat
      • The banality of evil is to thoughtlessly engage in acts of evil without consciously feeling or knowing what was being done. The actor was not inherently evil, but rather joined in on it. Which is what explains why one would not feel remorse, it just happened. 
        • MAJOR CONTROVERSY
          • People say that Arendt was ‘psychologising’ Eichmann in who he was, rather than what he did
            • Claims say that Arendt lacked the deeper meaning
              • She missed some things about Eichmann
            • Why would Eichmann try to destroy the evidence?
    • Conclusion is that Eichmann did evil without being inherently evil
    • The Origins of Totalitarianism 
      • Published BEFORE Eichmann trial
      • Argued the inhuman evil of the Nazis
        • Echoing the spirit of F W J Schelling and Plato
          • Who explored demonic aspects of evil
  • NPR, Hannah Arendt and the Study of Evil (https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6268489):
    • Arendt examined totalitarian states and coined the phrase “banality of evil”
      • Implies that evil is banal but it refers to the actor and how they are banal
        • To Arendt, the actor is Eichmann
        • To her, banal means thoughtless, the actor was not in the capacity to engage in any reflection with themself––lack of understanding
          • He didn’t think of the murder as murder, but rather something technical and logistical
            • Creepy normal thinking––very normal about the ordeal
    • Origins of Totalitarianism
      • Totalitarianism was a novel form of government, as shown with Stalin and Nazis
        • Made Stalin comparable with the Nazis
          • Helped McC
      • “Totalitarianism” was rarely used for political analysis

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