The Origins of Totalitarianism: The Development of Antisemitism
The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt - Book Overview and Thoughts
The concept of Jewish responsibility is introduced by Arendt. It stresses that discussing actions taken to avoid the assimilation of the Jews is not blaming them. She argues that to really understand antisemitism we need to confront uncomfortable truths rather than accepting convenient but false narratives.
Despite being stateless, Jews were perceived as representatives of the state due to their economic power, particularly exemplified by the Rothschild family. The concentration of Jewish wealth led to stereotypes of Jews as a secret force controlling governments.
Hannah Arendt distinguishes between social and political antisemitism, with the latter seeking to strip citizens of their rights. Political antisemitism is identified as the most dangerous form, capable of leading to totalitarianism. Understanding this distinction is essential for recognizing the origins and potential consequences of antisemitism in contemporary societies.
Social antisemitism is closely tied to the concept of equality. As Jews achieved greater equality with other groups, social discrimination emerged. The idea is that as conditions become more equal, the differences between individuals and groups become more pronounced, leading to increased social resentment.
Jews seeking assimilation faced the challenge of balancing expectations. While they were expected to be as 'educated' as the rest of society, they also needed to go above and beyond to stand out and gain acceptance. This intricate balancing act needed the development of a distinct identity that adhered to societal norms while also distinguishing itself from perceived typical Jewish characteristics.
Hannah highlights the correlation between the growth of Jewish equality and increasing social resentment. Differences among Jews, previously unnoticed, become apparent, affecting social interactions and influencing Jewish behavior.
Jews were regarded as exotic and mysterious in society's pursuit of entertainment and fascination with the unusual. This perception, when transformed into a psychological quality, contributed to their acceptance, though in distorted terms. The association of Jews with vices, which were considered interesting but not necessarily criminal, led to the belief that they were predisposed to commit crimes, putting them in a vulnerable position.
Hannah Arendt introduces the concept of the "mob," which refers to a group that includes members of all social classes. She emphasizes that mistaking the mob for the people is a common mistake because the mob is essentially a collection of people from various social classes with potentially different motivations. The mob seeks a 'strong man' or a 'great leader,' and its exclusion from societal structures and representation generates animosity, which is frequently directed at groups such as Jews.
The Dreyfus Affair is investigated in relation to the formation of the mob. During the French Third Republic, scandals involving high society and politicians contributed to the formation of the mob, which was organized and incited by the army, church, and police. The mob, fueled by its disdain for societal structures, saw Jews as a convenient target because of their perceived association with the state.
Arendt claims that all antisemitic movements eventually led to the emergence of the Zionist movement. Jews' persecution and discrimination pushed them to seek their own state for protection.
Antisemitism as an Outrage to Common Sense
In order to avoid making this newsletter as lengthy as possible, we will attempt to discuss only the most crucial parts of every chapter in each section.
In the first chapter on antisemitism, Antisemitism as an Outrage to Common Sense, Hannah attempts to demystify all current beliefs about what antisemitism is, starting with what it is not.
However, before we discuss this, we need to understand that antisemitism is serious and that it was not simply a strategy to sway the masses. Antisemitism, according to Hannah, should not be underestimated because it was the driving force behind Nazi ideology.
Moreover, the first thing Hannah says about antisemitism is that it was not a product of nationalism. In fact, she claims that antisemitism grew in proportion as traditional nationalism declined and that the peak of antisemitism coincided with the collapse of the European nation-state system and its balance of power.
Another widely held belief about antisemitism is that it emerged as a result of Jewish power and jealousy. Hannah claims that this belief is flawed because most Jews were poor, and those who were wealthy were losing power as antisemitism emerged.
One of the most important aspects of this argument is Hannah's observation that power is not necessarily bad. It is simply wrong and unjustifiable when it does not provide a visible function, resulting in its rejection. In other words, when power appears to be lost, it becomes suddenly unjustified.
For instance, Hannah provides another example of this phenomenon. During the French Revolution, the French masses developed a strong and violent hatred for the aristocracy, particularly when the aristocrats were about to lose their power. When the aristocracy held significant power, they were tolerated and respected, but when they lost these privileges, particularly the ability to exploit and oppress, the people saw them as parasites with no real function. A similar effect happened when antisemitism reached a peak around the time Jews lost their public functions and influence.
Moving on, another misconception about antisemitism is that it emerged because Jews were seen as scapegoats, or that the Nazis needed an enemy. The important thing here is that Hannah wants us to ask uncomfortable questions, such as "Why the Jews?" If the Jews were only used as a scapegoat, it implies that it could have been anyone else. An ideology, which has to persuade, cannot choose its victims randomly.
Lastly, there is the myth of eternal antisemitism. According to this idea, Jews have always been hated and persecuted. However, as noted by Hannah, the problem with this is that it absolves the Nazis of any responsibility for their actions and thus justifies antisemitism in the first place.
The concept of Jewish responsibility is one of the most difficult topics we will investigate further. It is critical to understand that she is not blaming the Jews when she discusses what they did to avoid assimilation. It is also crucial to avoid viewing antisemitism as a tool for Jewish survival. Accepting convenient explanations, Hannah argues, denies the reality of antisemitism and diminishes our humanity. To resist antisemitism, one must first fully comprehend it, which requires confronting uncomfortable truths rather than settling for comforting but false narratives.
To put it another way, the most important thing here is to understand the factors that contribute to their vulnerability, which we will go over in the following section.
The Jews, the Nation-State, and the Birth of Antisemitism
In this section on antisemitism, we will look at the rise of hatred for Jews as well as their position in society over time.
It all starts with governments in the 17th and 18th centuries, when wealthy Jews served as court Jews. They handled monarchs' financial transactions, providing capital for specific needs. This financial role, however, was not as extensive as it became later with the rise of nation states.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned, the rise of equality had a significant impact on Jewish antisemitism. Nations granted Jewish people equal rights during the nineteenth century. This happened as countries transitioned away from old systems and a new concept of equality emerged.
Back then, countries needed money and business support, but most people didn't trust the government with their money. Jews, who were well-known for lending money, were approached for assistance. In exchange, the government granted them special treatment, treating them differently than the rest of the population. Thus, Jewish emancipation, or gaining equal rights, had a double meaning. On the one hand, it was about equality, but on the other, it was about preserving Jewish uniqueness. Even though equality was promoted, it also ensured that Jews remained a distinct group in society.
Moreover, as nations strived for equality, a new issue emerged: the rich and the poor divided. While America achieved social equality, Europe only achieved legal equality. This contradiction hindered the development of true republics and resulted in the formation of a class-based society. Jews, however, were an exception. They didn't fit into any category. Their status was defined by their Jewishness rather than their social standing.
As a result, as previously said, governments played a role in keeping Jews detached from the rest of society. Being born a Jew meant being overprivileged or underprivileged in order to avoid assimilation.
We know, so far, that when nation states emerged, more capital was required for business transactions. However, things changed drastically with the rise of imperialism. Following World War I, Western Jewry, like the nation-state, disintegrated. This reduced the importance of Jewish wealth, leading to resentment of their power. As a result, Jews started to face widespread hatred and contempt.
This decline of the nation-state, which resulted in the loss of privileges for the nobility, causing resentment and hatred, prompted the emergence of political antisemitism. This is an important concept to remember; Hannah distinguishes between social and political antisemitism. The former only discriminates, while the latter seeks to take away citizens’ rights. Political antisemitism, according to Hannah, is the most dangerous form of antisemitism and can lead to totalitarianism. By learning the history of Jewish hatred, we can begin to identify the origins of each type of antisemitism when it comes to group minorities in our current societies.
Furthermore, it is critical to recognize that Jews possessed no political power or importance. They were merely an economic asset, so their significance was economic. This also meant they never had a state or engaged in politics. On top of that, their importance was international rather than national because of their financial assistance and power. However, as antisemitism spread, their role diminished, and Jews were excluded from international affairs.
Lastly, Hannah mentions an important paradox: despite being stateless, Jews were perceived as representatives of the state due to their economic power. She provides the example of the Rothschild family, a banker family, which brought about the concentration of Jewish wealth and the perception of a strong, international Jewish connection. This concentration of wealth, linked to power, fueled antisemitic stereotypes of Jews as a secret force controlling governments.
Moreover, antisemitism gained traction in the late nineteenth century, initially driven by financial scandals. The lower middle class, particularly those affected by economic hardship, became antisemitic, believing that Jews were on their way to political power because of their connections with the government. This social-economic resentment, combined with a fear of Jews gaining political power, fueled the rise of antisemitism in the lower middle classes. However, Hannah emphasizes that Jews were not directly involved in politics for its own sake; rather, Jewish communities aligned with the state for security and protection.
As some of us may be aware, Jewish communities have historically faced persecution as a result of their refusal to adopt some religious practices of other cultures. One example is the act of lending money, which was considered usury in other religions, such as Christianity. However, Hannah does not provide these examples; rather, these are some earlier events that can help us understand since when the Jews differed from other religions or groups of people.
To put it another way, in a hostile environment for Jews, aligning with the state and demonstrating loyalty through economic ties was a survival strategy. Moreover, the lesson here is to be cautious when identifying certain groups as allies of the state. It is critical to understand why certain groups may develop or appear to have close ties to the government. Current group minorities, such as LGBTQ+ groups, are examples of groups that are being inextricably linked with the state. However, it is critical to identify the causes and trace the history of each group before progressing from discrimination to political antisemitism.
Several antisemitic parties emerged in the nineteenth century, beginning with Austria and its various movements that targeted the Rothschilds as Jewish bankers. Similarly, France experienced a peak of antisemitism during the Dreyfus Affair, which we will discuss shortly. However, this antisemitic movement held less influence and power than those in Germany and Austria.
Finally, a period of apparent stability emerged, which Hannah labeled as "The Golden Age of Security." This stage was distinguished by the operation of political structures despite dissatisfaction and internal conflicts. The most significant aspect of this stage is that, after losing their banking power, Jews began to gain prominence in cultural institutions, contributing to newspapers, publishing, music, and theater. However, the main issue is that they faced discrimination, which resulted in antisemitism losing political ground and becoming an ideological tool.
As Hannah Arendt said: “It became a mix of half-truths and superstitions, serving as an outlet for frustrations and resentments after World War I.”(p.68)
The Jews and Society
As we saw in the previous section, Hannah distinguishes between social and political antisemitism, emphasizing the latter as the most concerning. We also know that political antisemitism emerged around the time Jews began to be perceived as allies of the state. Hannah, however, claims that social antisemitism enables political antisemitism, leading her to focus on the former in this section.
The first and most important characteristic of social antisemitism is that it emerged from the concept of equality. Social discrimination emerged as Jews achieved greater equality with other groups.
Moreover, one of the most important quotes of the book, in my perspective, can be found in this section, and has been mentioned earlier. However, for the purposes of this section, we can recall that Arendt argues that “the more equal conditions are, the less explanation there is for the differences that actually exist between people; and thus the more unequal do individuals and groups become.” (p.69). For Arendt a challenge of the modern era is that we confront each other without the protection of differing circumstances. We are not equal, so we have to come up with reasons for inequality which is dangerous.
Furthermore, Hannah delves into the paradoxical nature of equality. In her view, equality should be a principle granting equal rights, yet she observes that it can be mistaken as an innate quality in individuals. This misunderstanding is especially dangerous in societies with limited space for special groups, as differences become apparent.
Arendt's investigation into modern race relations demonstrates that the demand for equality requires the recognition of each individual as equal. However, conflicts increase when groups fail to recognize this basic equality, particularly in the context of natural differences.
As Jewish equality grows, so does social resentment. Surprising differences among Jews fuel societal discontent. Discrimination, while socially impactful, does not result in a significant political movement against Jews. However, it poisons social interactions and influences Jewish behavior.
Moreover, Hannah compares the situation with the United States, underscoring the unique challenges posed by achieving equality in a diverse population. In the U.S., where equality is assumed, discrimination becomes a means of distinction. This paradoxical situation develops social antisemitism, which eventually evolves into a dangerous political movement.
Finally, I believe Arendt's analysis sheds light on the complex interplay between social and political antisemitism, emphasizing the importance of understanding how equality influences societal dynamics and, ultimately, the development of ideologies.
Now, this was only Arendt's perspective on equality. However, we will now discuss her exploration of society and the assimilation of Jews.
Assimilation for Jews meant being accepted by non-Jewish society. However, this acceptance came with a condition—they had to stand out from other Jewish people. The challenge emerged from trying to stay connected to their Jewish identity while also avoiding looking like typical Jews to be accepted. As Hannah Arendt put it, they had to be "a man in the street and a Jew at home" (p.86)
This seeming contradiction had a real basis. Non-Jewish society expected assimilated Jews to be as 'educated' as everyone else. But here's the catch: while they were told not to act like regular Jews, they still needed to do something exceptional because, at the end of the day, people saw them as Jews.
Therefore, to fit in, Jews had to carefully juggle different expectations. They needed to be 'educated' like the rest of society but also had to do something extraordinary to be accepted. It wasn't just about learning things; it meant creating a unique identity that stood out from what people thought of as typical Jewish characteristics.
As a result, Jews seeking acceptance confronted a double challenge. They faced the dilemma of conforming through differentiation while attempting to be accepted by a society that discriminated against ordinary Jews.
Following this, the constant effort to distinguish themselves resulted in the development of a distinct Jewish type, defined not by religion but by psychological characteristics and reactions.
These characteristics eventually led to the differentiation of different types of Jews: the assimilated pariahs, who successfully integrated into society yet continued to encounter discrimination; the parvenus, who attained wealth but retained an outsider status due to their Jewish identity; the conformists; and the conscious pariahs, who deliberately resisted assimilation. Moreover, due to the complex social landscape, Jews faced the critical decision of aligning with one of these identities.
Furthermore, in the decaying societal framework, Jews were perceived as exotic and mysterious. The prevailing societal trend, driven by a morbid desire for the exotic and abnormal, welcomed the idea of Jews as entertainers, with characteristics that could be interpreted as mysteriously wicked or secretly vicious. This peculiar fascination with Jews' 'otherness' contributed to their acceptance, although on distorted and perverse terms.
Bourgeois society, in its search for entertainment and fascination with the unusual, discovered an attraction in Jews, whose Jewishness, once transformed into a psychological quality, could easily be perverted into a vice.
In addition to this, Hannah claims a correlation between vice and crime, arguing that crime can be punished, but a vice is an integral part of one's identity. Individuals with vices are not always criminals. Jews, in this context, could be viewed as people with vices, but not necessarily criminals and potentially assimilable into society. However, this perception of Jews as possessing vices led to a belief that they were predisposed to commit crimes, subjecting them to punishment.
To put it another way, being exotic or different, while not a crime, placed them in a vulnerable position.
Now, considering the challenges of assimilation for the Jews, Hannah focuses on Benjamin Disraeli, a Jew from an assimilated family who managed to remain separate—a parvenu that took advantage of his Jewishness to advance his political career.
Furthermore, one of the most significant aspects of this case is that, despite his Jewish identity, he indirectly contributed to antisemitic narratives through his political ideas and writings. He was able to see Jews as potentially powerful because of their 'chosen' status, which developed into a race doctrine. In other words, he believed in a mysterious Jewish influence that led to social resentment among non-Jews.
Some of his writings that influenced antisemitism were "Alroy" and "Coningsby," which reflected his changing views on Jewish power. In these writings, he discusses the spread of Jewish financial dominance and influence through secret societies.
As we can see, while Disraeli may not have intended to promote antisemitism, his ideas were later distorted and used to support beliefs that Jews control world affairs. His views on secret societies, while not grounded in reality, contributed to public fears and misinformation.
Ultimately, after the Dreyfus Affair, a critical period we will delve into shortly, Jews encountered the challenges of assimilation. It was during this period that society underwent a shift in its perception of them, recognizing them as ordinary individuals.
This transformation, however, brought its own set of complications. No longer considered exotic or mysteriously wicked, Jews now had to navigate societal expectations and prejudices without the distorted views that had temporarily elevated them. The societal volatility, which alternated between fascination and indifference, emphasized the fragile state of the Jewish position in a society governed by ever-changing norms and prejudices.
Benjamin Disraeli's writings influenced society's acceptance of certain behaviors that are generally considered wicked or immoral, such as vices. His views transformed them into actions that are part of individuals. That is, instead of viewing these actions as deliberate decisions, society began to see them as ingrained characteristics.
This shift in perspective led society to perceive individuals with vices as having imposed behaviors beyond their control. This essentially means that individuals are not fully responsible for their actions, which causes society to treat them differently and impose punishments or restrictions based on the belief that these characteristics are beyond the individual's control.
To put it another way, it promotes discrimination and stigma. The main ingredients of social antisemitism.
The Dreyfus Affair
We've now reached the book's final chapter on antisemitism, delving into the well known case of The Dreyfus Affair. This historical event unfolded in France in 1894 and is considered a critical event that drastically shaped society's perception of Jews. The controversy was centered around Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer falsely accused of espionage for Germany. Surprisingly, the antisemitism that existed in the initial phase of the case increased Jews' social status. However, this perception was short-lived and ended once Dreyfus’s innocence was revealed.
Furthermore, this and other events that we will discuss shortly will guide us in discovering that society willingly seemed to assign Jews to specific roles as long as they were perceived as a threat or traitors. For example, Alfred Dreyfus was the only Jew in the French military, making him more vulnerable to being targeted as a spy or traitor. When it was discovered that a French officer was sending secret French documents to the German Embassy in Paris, it became much easier to accuse him.
Following this accusation, Dreyfus was charged and court-martialed in October 1894, serving a life sentence on Devil's Island. He was eventually found not guilty and exonerated in 1906. However, he later faced a retrial and was charged again, despite evidence proving Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, a French major, guilty.
Moreover, this case remained significant in French politics even into the twentieth century. According to Hannah, the case is significant because it divided France into Dreyfus’s supporters and opponents. Dreyfus faced strong opposition from the military, the Catholic Church, the right wing, and, in general, the antisemites.
Attitudes toward Jews during the affair revealed that the higher strata of society, including both Catholic and anti-clerical factions, were willing to see Jews removed from the body politic. The affair became an opportunity for Parliament to regain its reputation for incorruptibility. Slogans like 'Death to the Jews' were used to reconcile societal divisions.
One of the most significant aspects of the Dreyfus Affair is that it resulted in the Catholic Church losing control of the state, and in 1905, the Church and State were officially separated in France. The military, in particular, was concerned about losing power if Dreyfus's guilt was proven to be false.
Another event covered in this chapter is the Panama Scandal. This case also revolved around suspicion of Jews, blaming them for failures, specifically financial failures. The Panama Scandal refers to a French company's failed attempt to build the Panama Canal during the French Third Republic in 1892. Many French citizens had invested in the project and eventually lost their money.
As mentioned earlier, the case eventually required someone to be held accountable, leading to the accusation of two individuals of Jewish descent who were not directly involved. These individuals, Jacques Reinach and Cornélius Herz, were only implicated in the distribution of bribes. Reinach, a secret financial advisor, played a crucial role in managing relations with the Panama Company, while Herz served as an intermediary with radical factions within Parliament.
Following this, the scandal took a tragic turn when Reinach, harassed by Herz's blackmail, committed suicide. Their actions were significant in transforming an obscure antisemitic daily newspaper, 'La Libre Parole,’ into one of France's most influential papers. Shortly before his death, Reinach provided 'La Libre Parole' with a list of suborned members of Parliament, giving the paper exclusive content. The gradual release of this list created a sense of suspense, making the journal and the entire antisemitic press powerful forces in the Third Republic.
Furthermore, the Panama Scandal revealed that most intermediaries between private enterprise and the state were Jewish. However, these Jews were newcomers, as traditional Jewish financial houses such as the Rothschilds had lost power. The scandal occurred at an important time and demonstrated how, despite not being directly involved in the financial mismanagement, Jewish people became scapegoats, contributing to the rise of antisemitic sentiments in French society. For this reason, Hannah argues that the Panama Scandal influenced the development of antisemitism, paving the way for what occurred during the Dreyfus Affair.
This brings us to one of the most significant elements of this chapter: the mob. Hannah expands on this concept and applies it later in the book. The following quote captures the most important thing she says about this concept:
‘...primarily a group in which the residue of all classes are represented. This makes it so easy to mistake the mob for the people, which also comprises all strata of society. While people in all great revolutions fight for true representation, the mob will always shout for the ‘strong man’, the ‘great leader’. For the mob hates society from which it is excluded, as well as Parliament where it is not represented.’ (p.138)
As can be seen, Hannah argues that viewing the mob as a true representation of the people is a big mistake. The mob is essentially a gathering of people from various social classes who may share a common cause or sentiment, and it is frequently portrayed as a force that can be easily swayed or manipulated. It requires a 'strong man' or a 'great leader' who can represent their collective sentiments, which can eventually lead to the leader exploiting the mob's emotions for their own purposes.
In the context of the Dreyfus Affair, this term refers to a group made up of people from various social classes. This group, as Hannah points out, is frequently misunderstood as a true representation of the general population, despite the fact that it is only a small group of people.
Following this, Hannah claims that the mob was created by scandals involving high society and politicians during the French Third Republic. As previously stated, the army, church, and police were all involved in organizing and inciting the mob. The mob, which despises societal structures and the government, found a convenient target in Jews. Their perceived tolerance in society, as well as their association with the state, made them an attractive target for the mob's animosity.
Furthermore, Hannah claims that powerful groups such as Freemasons, and Jesuits were also incorrectly portrayed as secret societies seeking global dominance. Although these perceptions were false, Hannah emphasizes how they were exploited during the Dreyfus Affair, worsening the already volatile situation.
Another group that became entwined with the mob's erratic behavior was the intellectuals, who despised society and wanted to destroy it. However, Picquart and Clemenceau were among those who attempted to protect France from the mob. Picquart, despite his background and initial hostility toward Jews, eventually demonstrated that Dreyfus had been falsely accused, and Clemenceau, a prominent figure, stood out as a rare supporter of justice and equal rights for Jews. He understood the need for oppressed groups to actively fight against their oppressors. He believed that ‘an infringement of the rights of one man was an infringement of the rights of all.' (p.147)
The turning point in the Dreyfus case, which had previously remained a source of disagreement, came with the Paris Exposition of 1900. This international event exerted a significant influence on the political landscape, particularly in prompting Parliament to reevaluate the possibility of a retrial for Captain Dreyfus.
The fear of a boycott forced Parliament to reconsider its position on Dreyfus, resulting in a pivotal moment in the form of a pardon. This act, while resolving the immediate crisis, caused controversy. The pardon, viewed as a compromise to restore order and prevent further disruption, represented a significant defeat for Clemenceau. The renowned justice advocate expressed dissatisfaction with the pardon's ambiguity, criticizing its perceived lack of clarity as well as its role in combining honorable individuals with those deemed less credible.
Following this, the conclusion of the Dreyfus case resulted in significant political changes. The separation of Church and State, as well as restrictions on Catholic activities, effectively ended Catholicism's political influence in France. The intelligence service was now under civil authority, which limited the army's ability to exert influence through police inquiries.
The end of the Dreyfus case marked the end of clerical antisemitism. While Bernard Lazare advocated for equal rights for both sides, the state made exceptions that harmed Jews and threatened Catholics' freedom of conscience. Both the Jewish question and political Catholicism were effectively removed from practical politics.
Furthermore, another of the most significant consequences of the Dreyfus Affair was the public's perception of wealthy and noble Jewish individuals, who were still viewed as outcasts without a country or human rights. Emancipated Jews who sought acceptance separated themselves from other Jews. They even accused their own less assimilated members of causing problems and breaking ties of solidarity.
Finally, by the end of this chapter, Hannah Arendt claims that all antisemitic movements eventually resulted in the birth of the Zionist movement - ‘the only political answer Jews have ever found to antisemitism and the only ideology in which they have ever taken seriously a hostility that would place them at the center of world events.’ (p.156)
On top of that, if that wasn't enough, Jewish communities had only one option for protecting themselves from antisemitic movements: establish their own state.
The Relevance of Jewish Antisemitism
We have completed the first section of the book The Origins of Totalitarianism. However, before we can conclude this discussion, we must first understand it. Instead of trying to remember dates or names, we should read through the text and analyze the situation.
It is unavoidable to notice that some of these events parallel current happenings. There are plenty of examples we could use here. However, in order to make this brief, we will only use one. We are all aware that transsexuals face social antisemitism, or discrimination. Currently, there is an increase in social antisemitism, which is progressing toward political antisemitism. This leads us to the conspiracy theories that argue that gender ideology is being taught in schools to control the population.
In other words, there is a "mob" that believes that certain groups, such as LGBTQ+, are allies of the state, and that both try to indoctrinate people into thinking certain ways in order to gain control.
However, we can step back from the situation and recognize that these groups aren't aligning with the state to gain control, but rather to seek protection and safety. It is critical that we recognize that antisemitism can cause terror and unease in this world.
Antisemitism is an ideology that stems from viewing certain groups as strangers, as individuals who are responsible for the injustices that plague society, with no solid foundation or evidence. Antisemitism is the sound of hatred, and it stems from conspiracy theories that seek an answer to the world’s problems.
Moreover, this is not to say that group minorities are never without fault; rather, we should exercise caution when assigning blame. I don't think the Holocaust could happen again, but history does rhyme. Understanding Hannah Arendt's research on Jewish antisemitism allows us to begin identifying situations that are getting out of hand. I strongly advise everyone to read this book, particularly the section on antisemitism, because it is human nature to make connections without solid evidence, leading to discrimination that eventually turns into terror and hell.
As Hannah Arendt puts it, humanity is made up of plurality, and attempting to unify it all is a huge mistake.
Arendt, H. (1951). The Origins of Totalitarianism (2017th ed.). Penguin Classics.
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