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On Revolution by Hannah Arendt

on revolution by hannah arendt
On Revolution by Hannah Arendt
AMMAN — A unique and fascinating look at violent political change by one of the most profound thinkers of the twentieth century and the author of Eichmann in Jerusalem and The Origins of Totalitarianism.اضافة اعلان

Hannah Arendt’s penetrating observations on the modern world, based on a profound knowledge of the past, have been fundamental to our understanding of our political landscape.

On Revolution is her classic exploration of a phenomenon that has reshaped the globe. From the eighteenth-century rebellions in America and France to the explosive changes of the twentieth century, Arendt traces the changing face of revolution and its relationship to war while underscoring the crucial role such events will play in the future. Illuminating and prescient, this timeless work will fascinate anyone who seeks to decipher the forces that shape our tumultuous age.

Tracing the gradual evolution of revolutions, Arendt predicts the changing relationship between war and revolution and the crucial role such combustive movements will play in the future of international relations. She looks at the principles which underlie all revolutions, starting with the first great examples in America and France, and showing how both the theory and practice of revolution have since developed.

Finally, she foresees the changing relationship between war and revolution and the crucial changes in international relations, with revolution becoming the key tactic.

The overriding theme of the book is participation in the political life as the touchstone of the life worth living. Arendt begins with the ancient Greek focus on such life, the life of free men taking part in making decisions in the public sphere, which was for the Greeks the point of life.  

A private life, or the life of a man not free (either directly unfree, like a slave, or without independent means), was far inferior to such public life, which brought happiness, “public happiness.”  For Arendt, this is the “actual content of freedom,” no other civil rights, which are “essentially negative:  they are the results of liberation.” 

Arendt claims that such public freedom is not possible under a monarchy or other non-republican form of non-tyrannical government (though she is wrong), and even though civil rights are possible under non-republican government, that is not enough.  She therefore defines a revolution as the novelty, new since Rome, of rediscovering the critical importance of public freedom so defined. Violence is not the key; that is incidental. 

The goal of participating in political life, where one had not done so before is what characterizes a revolution, which means the original meaning, of a restoration, a “revolving back,” (the meaning, in fact, that Thomas Paine ascribed to revolution) is not applicable, and the Glorious Revolution, for example, was not a revolution at all in Arendt’s sense.

Hannah Arendt was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1906, and fled to Paris in 1933. She came to the United States after the outbreak of World War II and was the editorial director of Schocken Books from 1946 to 1948. She taught at Berkeley, Princeton, the University of Chicago, and the New School for Social Research. Among her other books are The Human Condition, On Revolution, and The Life of the Mind. She died in 1975.

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