Chelsea Szendi's Reviews > On Violence

On Violence by Hannah Arendt
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May 03, 2010

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bookshelves: global-1960s, theory

This book has not aged gracefully. I saw a lecture in which Spivak noted that one cannot even begin to analyze Arendt's attitudes about race in this work, since it is "like a stone," and offers no entry into anything interesting. Her discussion of black university students is simply offensive.

The more interesting facet of this work today is how completely fifty years has dissolved our fears of nuclear war. Even if many of the fears (not to mention the air-raid drills) of the Cold War era were irrational, the contemporary lack of fear about nuclear war is also irrational. For Arendt, however, writing in 1970, "terrorism" is still the terror of the Stalinist state, the terror of the gulag. It almost provokes one to think of it as a simpler time. Or is Arendt's analysis just a simpler analysis?
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