Saturday, May 19, 2007
The Banality of Evil
The Banality of Evil: The concept of evil is rather banal by its very nature. On the whole, man seems to consistently fail at recognizing the commonplace and mundane features of evil in the postmodern world. In her 1951 masterpiece entitled The Origins of Totalitarianism, political philosopher Hannah Arendt coined the phrase "the banality of evil." Arendt argues that the political ideology of totalitarianism was essentially born out of an unfortunate combination of anti-Semitism and imperialism. Taking this novel thesis one step further, Arendt demonstrates how the second-class stature of German imperialism led to the development of anti-Semitism as a viable political option. In effect, Germany became jealous of the vast foreign empires built by the British and the French. As a result, she looked for a scapegoat to placate her imperial woes. The Protestant Nationalists in Germany naturally pointed to the Jews as the reason for the country's problems. The German Jews were for the most part seen as a nation within a nation. This idea was especially prevalent in the southern German state of Bavaria where the National Socialist (Nazi) movement began during the 1920s.