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Totalitarianism according to Arendt was something exceptionally terrible. It was not simply a form of despotism, but suffering of which there has always been too much on earth is an issue of significance in this case. Canovan says that “Arendt describes the camps as laboratories in which the fundamental belief of totalitarianism is that everything is possible and is thus verified by a process in which men are changed into something subhuman, creatures without the capacity for action or choice” (24). Totalitarianism is also used as a basis of depriving people of rights and of the opportunity for moral responsibility are only the foremost steps and then afterwards individuality is itself destroyed (Canovan 24).
Perpetual peace according to Kant is not a complete fantasy for if the widespread evil of constant war is a product of free choice. Kant indicates that war drives human beings to all corners of the earth, seeking safety from one another but no part of the earth is completely inaccessible to any other.. Guyer thus says that “Kant’s aim is not to provide a natural guarantee of the actuality or even the probability of perpetual peace but rather a philosophical guarantee of the possibility of perpetual peace by which it can be proven that such peace no matter how remote it may seem” (298). In addition, Guyer established that on the basis of Kant’s mechanisms of nature that can produce perpetual peace will do so only if used by a moral politician rather than merely a moralist or entirely moral person reflects a further important element of realism in his political theory (298).
According to Kant and Smith say that a state of peace among men who live by side is not the natural state which in most cases can be described as a state of war. Kant and Smith indicated that although there is or perhaps always actual open hostility yet there is a constant threatening that an outbreak may occur (9). This means that a state of peace must be established hence for the mere cessation of hostilities is no guarantee of continued peaceful relations and unless this guarantee is given by every individual to his neighbor which is possible in a state of society regulated by law one man is at liberty to challenge another and at the same time treat him as his or her enemy (Kant and Smith, 9).
According to Kant and Smith Kant’s main theory of perpetual peace is founded on the idea of original contract of constitution upon which the lawful legislation of every nation must be based (9). The idea of perpetual peace has its basis on the principle of freedom of the members of the society as human beings. Kant and Smith further say that it is in accordance with the principle of the dependence of all as subjects on a common legislation and also in accordance with the law of the equality of members as citizens.
Moreover, King and Stone on the other hand noted that “origins of totalitarianism were used by Arendt as a method of distinction between colonialism and imperialism along with race thinking and racism” (40). Unlike Kant’s perpetual peace, Arendt bypasses the development of race thinking and racism in the colonial context and instead attributes racism to imperialism. King and Stone however indicated that these events and tendencies included the expansionist model of imperialism as well as the evolution and spread of racism specifically by those in the West (40).
Consequently, Skirbekk and Gilje says that for “Arendt’s totalitarianism, politics should not be reduced to power and violence or to empty rhetoric” (458). She also indicated that politics in a genuine sense was a matter of striving for political power or of gaining influence in the corridors of power. In addition Skirbekk and Gilje found out that totalitarianism was aimed at producing a new human being and a completely new political order. Skirbekk and Gilje also say that “these regimes based themselves on a total ideology, a large scale mobilization of the masses, systematic manipulation, and indoctrination and a consistently technocratic view of politics” (458).
For perpetual peace Kant’s says it applies the form of government in which the state makes use of its supreme power, for the manner of government is based on the constitution itself the act of that universal will which transforms a multitude into a nation (Kant and Smith, 11). This implies that the whole people so called who carry their measure are really not all but only a majority so that here the universal will is in contradiction with itself and with the principle of freedom. Arendt’s totalitarianism is a criticism of perpetual peace because of the fact that political leaders could treat human beings as pliable material (as a means to an end) reveals a basic truth about the human condition in the twentieth century (Skirbekk and Gilje 458).
On the basis of the totalitarianism conditions, human beings are robbed of their capability to act and they view action as a threat and strive for predictable behavior in their citizens lives so that they can be controlled more easily (Skirbekk and Gilje 458). Totalitarianism is a criticism of perpetual peace because these regimes do everything to shut down all public arenas in order to isolate and atomize the people while in perpetual peace Kant says that the democratic constitution makes it possible for everyone because he or she wishes to be a master. In addition Kant and Smith say that every state for the sake of its own security, they ought to demand that its neighbor submit itself to conditions similar to those of the civil society where the right of every individual is guaranteed (13).
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In addition, Skirbekk and Gilje says Arendt’s analysis is that the differentiation and rationalization of modernity brings with it individuals with no roots or identity, people who feel superfluous and are therefore attracted to leaders who can provide them with a new goal and a new identity (458). Besides this Kant and Humphrey indicated that Kant’s perpetual peace stipulates that moral principles must govern our action in the international as well as the national and personal arenas. Kant in this context quotes that “All actions that affect the rights of other men are wrong if their maxim is not consistent with publicity”
In totalitarianism, unlike in Kant’s perpetual peace, Aschheim says that “terror is the essence of totalitarian rule in what is now frequently regarded as an empirically unfounded comparison between the everyday lives of the people” (105). In addition we note that Arendt’s phenomenological thesis is that the experience of terror describes the theory of totalitarianism. Unlike Kant’s perpetual peace Arendt’s description gives more light on the flight from reality on the part of totalitarian movements, their displacement of ordinary judgment and common sense, their self destructiveness, their strange appeal, and their connection with modern emancipator social movements (Aschheim 105).
According to Canovan Arendt’s account on totalitarianism is that the leaders believe that everything is actually possible without believing in human freedom and responsibility not even their own. Unlike in the principle of perpetual peace, they see themselves as servants of inhuman laws that govern the universe. Canovan further says that this is not only at the level of the followers and victims that human plurality and spontaneity have become superfluous but even at the level of the leader himself (27).
Totalitarianism is seen as an attempt to exercise total domination and demonstrate that everything is possible by destroying human plurality and spontaneity at all levels and ironing out all that is human and contingent to make it fit a determinist ideology (Canovan 27). Canovan established that Arendt maintained that although totalitarianism had nightmare originality, its ideology was compounded from elements that had developed previously and had crystallized into a new phenomenon (28). Totalitarianism lies a drive towards unlimited expansion of power, and not as a means to any human purpose, but as a self perpetuating momentum to which totalitarians were prepared, but as a self perpetuating momentum to which totalitarians were prepared to sacrifice themselves and everyone else. It is important to note that this quest for power was unlimited in both scope and depth; literally, it involved a drive for world conquest in which ties to specific national territory were abandoned; vertically which meant the pursuit of total domination.
On the contrary Vries and Weber says that Kant’s perpetual peace was fundamental in dissolving prettifying deceptions by politicians who dare not expose the merely violent basis of their claims thus uncovering thereby the ultimate principle from which the aim of perpetual peace derives. In this context people act in such a way that they can wish their maxima to become a universal law unites form and matter and illuminates in the only way humanly conceivable the otherwise mysteriously providential juncture of formal and final cause (Vries and Weber 157).
According to Kant, perpetual peace contradicts totalitarianism because in a state the one who rules to those who obey which in turn savages to their lawless liberty, the fact that they would rather be at hopeless variance with one another than submit themselves to a legal authority constituted by them. People in this regime would rather prefer their senseless freedom to a reason-governed liberty is regarded by us with profound contempt as barbarism and un-civilization and the brutal degradation of humanity (Kant and Smith 13).
Totalitarianism springs from the same soil as the modern conception of freedom. Aschheim says that “totalitarianism movements participate in a dynamic of modernization the flip side of which constitutes a disintegration of traditional social structures and institutions” (112). As a result of totalitarianism the process of structural disintegration subjects individuals to homogenizing pressures that both press individuals together and at the same time isolate. They also massif and atomize the population setting the stage for the rise of totalitarian movements. Aschheim also indicated that totalitarian movements perpetuate and exacerbate the lawlessness of revolutionary social transformation and they also retain terror as power functioning outside of the law (112). It is fundamental to learn that in perpetual peace laws stabilize the society and at the same time fix social relations within certain institutional and normative parameters while in the contrast, totalitarianism thrives on keeping the movement of disintegration going (Aschheim 112).
Furthermore, Aschheim says that in relation to Arendt, the paradoxical nature of totalitarianism and the basic experience rests upon the experience of a loss of the very capacity of experience (114). This means that the spontaneity of the human being is destroyed and people are reduced to a bundle of reactions and is radically divested of its capacity for action. In addition, Aschheim says that Arendt describes totalitarianism as the loss of all inter-subjectivity and capacity to communicate, the radical isolation and loneliness of the totalitarian subject but also the way by which the pain of the ice-cold reasoning and mighty tentacle of dialectics that seizes you as in a vice grip. This thus gave rise to a strange elation of transcending the chaotic situation wrought by the regime of terror in its dislocation and destruction of all social stability (Aschheim 114).
Totalitarianism is directly connected with terror of totalitarian rule to the wordlessness of the totalitarian subject. Arendt’s experience indicates that totalitarianism is well articulated in the realm of aesthetics (Aschheim 114). On the contrary Russett, Starr, and Kinsella say that Kant’s perpetual peace ideology has greatly influenced contemporary approaches to human rights law in which all individuals despite their national citizenship are regarded to be in possession a common set of freedoms and protections (306). Kant in his articles of perpetual peace thus suggested that the civil constitution of every state should be republican, the law of nations shall be founded on a federation of Free states, and the law of world citizenship shall be limited to conditions of universal hospitality (Russett, Starr, and Kinsella 306).
Unlike in totalitarianism, civil constitution by republican means a constitution that provides for individual freedom and equal status under the rule of law and at the same time separation of executive and legislative powers within the government (Russett, Starr, and Kinsella 306). In this context it is important to realize that Kant was critical of democratic forms of government as despotic, because the will of the majority is imposed on the minority. Russett, Starr, and Kinsella also noted that in perpetual peace if the consent of the citizens required in order to for example to decide that war should be started on not the citizens are highly involved (306). On the other hand Canovan says that in totalitarianism Arendt pins down that it is the nightmare in which madness could strike whole nations and millions be systematically murdered for the sake of consistency with an ideological system (19).
The major contradiction is then on what basis that so many men could be as detached from any restraint of common sense as to be able to conceive such projects carry them out or even suffer them without any resistance (Canovan 19). Again Arendt says that the characterization of this new political phenomenon drew in some detail on the experience of both Nazism and Stalinism. This was because the origin of totalitarianism was associated with mass support and the selflessness and devotion of their adherents. Canovan also established that hierarchy of contempt existed within this type of movement.
With totalitarianism in power, rise to power for one particular country was bound to bring about problems for a totalitarian movement because its fictions world of ideology and propaganda, its disregard for facts with time become more difficult to maintain (Canovan 22). Canovan also says that totalitarian rule differs from normal states because even in despotic ones because they are less concerned with considerations of utility (23). In totalitarianism rulers within the traditional political terms act as ruthless players of the game of power politics which is completely misleading since they are not in any way interested in national interests of their countries. They are neither concerned with the calculable consequences of their actions but with their world of ideological fictions (Canovan 23).
In conclusion we note that according to Kant, only a federation of states on a world scale is a realistic expectation and thus hospitality without boundaries will never be realized. This implies that the conditions of the legal community challenge the absoluteness of the moral person. As a result Kant concludes that in order to focus on the universal human rights, the constitutional structure must be designed in such a way that though the citizens may be contest to one another in their own thoughts but this opposing views may inhibit one another in such a way that the public conduct of the citizens will be the same. On the other hand Arendt concludes that totalitarianism was illustrated by sarcastic claims that there were no such things as incontrovertible human rights subsisted and at the same time it was derived on the assertions of the democracies to the converse were just discrimination, double standards and cowardice in the face of the cruel majesty of the new world.
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