Hannah Arendt on how bureaucracy fuels violence

Do you think the growing pains we feel today in society are difficult to solve because they are new problems?

You may think again after reading this excerpt from the 1970 book On Violence by Hannah Arendt, the renowned political theorist and philosopher.  She’s best known for her works on the nature of power, politics, democracy, authority, and totalitarianism (wiki). 

“This century has become, as Lenin predicted, a century of wars and revolutions, hence a century of that violence which is currently believed to be their common denominator. There is, however, another factor in the present situation which, though predicted by nobody, is of at least equal importance. The technical development of implements of violence has now reached the point where no political goal could conceivably correspond to their destructive potential or justify their actual use in armed conflict. Hence, warfare — since times immemorial the final merciless arbiter in international disputes — has lost much of its effectiveness and nearly all of its glamor. “The apocalyptic” chess game between the superpowers, that is, between those that move on the highest plane of our civilization, is being played according to the rule: “if either ‘wins’ it is the end of both.” Moreover the game bears no resemblance to whatever war games preceded it. Its “rational” goal is mutual deterrence, not victory.”

“These definitions coincide with the terms which, since Greek antiquity, have been used to define the forms of government as the rule of man over man—of one or the few in monarchy and oligarchy, of the best or the many in aristocracy and democracy, to which today we ought to add the latest and perhaps most formidable form of such dominion, bureaucracy, or the rule by an intricate system of bureaux in which no men, neither one nor the best, neither the few nor the many, can be held responsible, and which could be properly called the rule by Nobody. Indeed, if we identify tyranny as the government that is not held to give account of itself, rule by Nobody is clearly the most tyrannical of all, since there is no one left who could even be asked to answer for what is being done. It is this state of affairs which is among the most potent causes for the current world-wide rebellious unrest.”

This is a snippet from the full perspective originally posted on www.brainpickings.org.

Ps. I love their site. If you like books, art or antique musings, you must bookmark it. Seriously, do it and stay informed with their latest @BrainPickings.

Pssttt……thanks for stopping by. Seriously. I hope it added something positive to your day. Please share the good word via the buttons below!

Share Button
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...