“The Origins of Totalitarianism” begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I.
Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time — Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia — which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left.
From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the non-totalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.
“How could such a book speak so powerfully to our present moment?” Jeffrey C. Isaac, a professor of political science at Indiana University, wrote in the Washington Post.
“The short answer is that we, too, live in dark times, even if they are different and perhaps less dark, and ‘Origins’ raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead,” he added.
Arendt’s 1963 book “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil was published by the Borj Publishing House in Tehran in 2020.
Arendt was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. Born into a German-Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organizations.
In 1941, she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York. She held a number of academic positions at various American universities until her death in 1975.