“Ideologies are harmless, uncritical and arbitrary opinions only as long as they are not believed in seriously. Once their claim to total validity is taken literally they become the nuclei of logical systems in which, as in the systems of paranoiacs, everything follows comprehensibly and even compulsorily once the first premise is accepted. The insanity of such systems lies not only in their first premise but in the very logicality with which they are constructed. The curious logicality of all isms, their simple-minded trust in the salvation value of stubborn devotion without regard for specific, varying factors, already harbors the first germs of totalitarian contempt for reality and factuality.“Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Penguin Modern Classics – 1951/2017)
“It is in the very nature of totalitarian regimes to demand unlimited power. Such power can only be secured if literally all men, without a single exception, are reliably dominated in every aspect of their life. (…)
(…) spontaneity as such, with its incalculability, is the greatest of all obstacles to total domination over man.”Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Penguin Modern Classics – 1951/2017)
“The effectiveness of this kind of propaganda demonstrates one of the chief characteristics of modern masses. They do not believe in anything visible, in the reality of their own experience; they do not trust their eyes and ears but only their imaginations, which may be caught by anything that is at once universal an consistent in itself.
What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part. (…)
What the masses refuse to recognize is the fortuitousness that pervades reality. They are predisposed to all ideologies because they explain facts as mere examples of laws and eliminate coincidences by inventing an all-embracing omnipotence which is supposed to be at the root of every accident. Totalitarian propaganda thrives on this escape from reality into fiction, from coincidence into consistency.”Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism, Penguin Random House, 2017, p.460
“Plato (…) also discovered the very insecure position of truth in the world, for ‘from opinions comes persuasion, and not from truth’ (Phaedrus 260). The most striking difference between ancient and modern sophists is that the ancients were satisfied with a passing victory of the argument at the expense of truth, whereas the moderns want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality.”Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Penguin Books, 2017)
“To yield to the mere process of disintegration has become an irresistible temptation, not only because it has assumed the spurious grandeur of ‘historical necessity’, but also because everything outside it has begun to appear lifeless, bloodless, meaningless, and unreal. (…)
Comprehension does not mean denying the outrageous (…). It means, rather, examining and bearing consciously the burden which our century has placed on us – neither denying its existence nor submitting meekly to its weight. Comprehension, in short, means the unpremeditated, attentive facing up to, and resisting of, reality – whatever it may be.”Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Preface to the First Edition, summer 1950).
Words that still resonate.