“The Banality of Evil” – Hannah Arendt
Can you do evil without being evil yourself?
Where does evil come from?
Why do people commit evil acts?
Holocaust case study: Is evil a sickness?
1961 Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Had ordered extermination of Jews
However, deemed “completely normal” by psychiatrist
Good intentions with harmful consequences?
Eichmann was enforced to carry out orders
“I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty”
Into the life of Eichmann:
Did not grow up a rabid anti-Semite
Wanted to rid Europe of Jews, with the goal of making space for pure-bred Germans rather than exterminating the Jews
- 1937: Give arms to Zionist fighters for their fight in Palestine
Open to other options than extermination
Basic belief: Pure bred Germans
Can good intentions/beliefs excuse evil wrongdoings?
“Good intentions will not suffice to avoid the road to hell”
- Be consciously aware of your actions
Aristotle: If one is purposefully ignorant, they are culpable
Understand ignorance, brings to light wrongdoings
Frankfurt: Having restrictions one one’s choices is crucial to one’s identity
Disorientation occurs with extreme amounts of freedom
Boundaries render certain actions “unthinkable”
3. Self-governance, morality and rationality
Bratman: Govern our own lives with rational norms on intention
Intention-stability allows for self-governance
With these actions, intentions should theoretically be checked, and evil consequences should be lessened. (Serves as a theoretical solution)
Banal: So lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring
What is the relationship between culture and evil?
1951 “The Origins of Totalitarianism”
Monopoly of mass propaganda
“If you cry ‘wolf’ enough, some people will cease to listen and resort to cynicism. If you scream ‘fake news’ enough about the truth, many will become cynical, and rather than investigate, will cease to even care.”
Living with Trump: “Clever rehash…of mass psychology and totalitarianism”
Mass propaganda = “savvy mass social media”
What’s going on today should have been expected
“Arendt’s book was criticized by the Jewish community. She disapproved of how the trail was conducted. Even her friends accused her of lack of empathy, or even sympathy for the victims.”
How does perspective change one’s stance on the concept of evil?
Arendt ostracized by the Jewish community for lacking empathy
Acts of atrocity have been committed against the Palestinian people, but for the intentions of taking back their homeland
Are Zionists lacking empathy, or do their good intentions outweigh Palestinian concentration camps?