Hannah Arendt: the crisis of authority

hannah_arendt

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was a German-American philosopher and political theorist. Her many books and articles on topics ranging from totalitarianism to epistemology have had a lasting influence on political theory. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century.

Reading Arendt today is very helpful to have an explanation about the crisis of authorities, from parental one to politics, from educational authority to societal figures. So how can Arendt tell us more about today’s world?

In her anthology Crises of the Republic, consisting of four essays, “Lying in Politics”, “Civil Disobedience”, “On Violence” and “Thoughts on Politics and Revolution”, she studies the contemporary American politics and the crises it faced in the 1960s and 1970s. “Lying in Politics” (which is one of the main criteria of politics as said by Nicolas Machiavelli) looks for an explanation behind the administration’s deception regarding the Vietnam War, as revealed in the Pentagon Papers.  “Civil Disobedience” examines the opposition movements, while the final “Thoughts on Politics and Revolution” is a commentary, in the form of an interview on the third essay, “On Violence”. In the latter, Arendt declares that violence presupposes power which she understands as a property of groups.

This anthology is easier to read than her other books. It sums up the reasons why politics have failed to trust it in general. Adding to lying and violence, social media and mass communication brought systems down. Being States in States, social media sites and platforms are transnational, dismantling frontiers and old values. Demystification and opinions rage, followed by civil disobedience, lead to crises in democracies and Republics.

Authority has never been more fragile.