The Origins of Totalitarianism, By Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt’s history of the rise of Hitler and Stalin, is the most difficult book I have ever read (and actually finished). It is included in this bibliography because it describes how even flirting with the politics that Donald Trump has empowered can lead to the darkest of places. Arendt describes how Germany’s and Russia’s journeys to totalitarianism began with a popular desire for order, security and the recovery of lost values and ways of life. She discusses how serious political dialogue decayed to theatrical political posturing and how political leaders increasingly held respectability in contempt. Arendt also discusses the large number of people who became “walking incarnations of resentment” and the dissolution of community spirit. Finally, she also discusses the evolving role of police that facilitated the rise of totalitarianism; terrorism as political activity; anti-Semitism; and the extent to which belief in progress was replaced by a much more pessimistic and nihilistic world view.If any of these sound like topics worth exploring given our current political climate, this book is well worth reading.