Hannah Arendt is widely regarded as one of the most important, unique and influential thinkers of political philosophy in the Twentieth century. Arendt was greatly influenced by her mentor and one time lover, Martin Heidegger, whose phenomenological method would help to greatly shape and frame Arendt’s own thinking. Like Heidegger, Arendt was sceptical of the metaphysical tradition which tended towards abstract conceptual reasoning; ultimately at odds with the reality of human lived experience. Consequently, Arendt was highly dubious of being referred to as a philosopher, as she felt philosophy was, by its own essence, confined to the proverbial ivory tower. She believed political life was at the apex of human experience and so she identified as a political thinker/actor. Her emphasis on the phenomenological nature of the lived political experience permeates her life’s works and perhaps can be said to constitute her own distinct brand of political philosophy. Arendt’s early publication, Ideology & Terror: A Novel Form of Government, is a profound elucidation of the
nature of the theretofore unprecedented (she argues) phenomenon of Totalitarianism and its “origins...elements...and functioning...”
A Novel Form of Government:
Arendt posited that the totalitarian forms of “government and domination” (Arendt. 303) which characterised the Nationalist Socialist party in Germany and Stalin’s oppressive regime in Soviet Russia, which saw systematic genocide and terror visited upon literally millions of innocent people, were unprecedented in the history of political systems, and were not mere modern manifestations of ancient forms of violent government such as despotism or tyranny. She went further even, to suggest that totalitarian systems had destroyed the very foundations upon which traditional ideas and presuppositions of government rested. Although totalitarianism seemed to contain elements of tyrannical or... [continues]
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