"Totalitarianism begins in contempt for what you have. The second step is the notion: “Things must change—no matter how, Anything is better than what we have.” Totalitarian rulers organize this kind of mass sentiment, and by organizing it articulate it, and by articulating it make the people somehow love it. They were told before, thou shalt not kill; and they didn’t kill. Now they are told, thou shalt kill; and although they think it’s very difficult to kill, they do it because it's now part of the code of behavior. They learn whom to kill and how to kill and how to do it together. This is the much talked about Gleichschaltung—the coordination process. You are coordinated not with the powers that be, but with your neighbor—coordinated with the majority. But instead of communicating with the other you are now glued to him. And you feel of course marvelous. Totalitarianism appeals to the very dangerous emotional needs of people who live in complete isolation and in fear of one another."
Hannah Arendt
(1906-1975) German-American political theorist, escaped Nazi Germany
'Hannah Arendt: From an Interview' Comments made in 1974 during an interview with the French writer Roger Errera and published in October 26, 1978 issue of The NewYork Review of Books Interview.
Bookmark and Share  
Reader comments about this quote:
Great observation!
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 2
    A hundred stars! Explains the right-left paradigm perfectly, and the de facto fascism that has taken over the US political system. It also explains terrorism and the motivations of lone wolf suicide bombers. Mass delusion is a requirement of totalitarianism -- and the ruling class has been perfecting their craft for millennia. Chances are YOU have already been conditioned to accept doing wrong for the 'common good' as OK -- it isn't! Never was, never will be.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 1
     -- jim k, Austin      
    Awesome Quote! To understand the present, one must study the past. Look to the Weimer Republic to understand what is happening in the 21st century.
    "A house divided against itself cannot stand"
    Mark 3:25
     -- Lucille A. Petillo, Ocean, NJ     
  • 2
    I think this explains victimization and scapegoating of an ethnic minority when the real blame lies elsewhere. Nazi Germany in the 30's and 40's but also more recent examples of Rwanda and Bosnia. Totalitarianism begins in contempt for what you have but when what you have is nothing or next to nothing then the arguments, lies and illusions are easier to initiate and maintain. Greater fairness in society and mechanisms of wealth redistribution are antidotes rather than causes of this.
     -- Mick, manchester     
  • 1
    Great quote!
    Totalitarianism is the beginning of the end... those that think otherwise are soon vanquished by the people.
     -- Robert, Somewhere in the US     
  • 1
    Perhaps I should delete the word "soon"
     -- Robert, Somewhere in the US     
    Rate this quote!
    How many stars?

    What do YOU think?
    Your name:
    Your town:

    More Quotations
    Get a Quote-A-Day! Free!
    Liberty Quotes sent to your mail box.
    RSS Subscribe
    Quotes & Quotations - Send This Quote to a Friend

    © 1998-2018 Liberty-Tree.ca