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Why Read Hannah Arendt Now?

Richard J. Bernstein

ISBN: 978-1-509-52863-9 June 2018 Polity 120 Pages


Recently there has been an extraordinary international revival of interest in Hannah Arendt. She was extremely perceptive about the dark tendencies in contemporary life that continue to plague us. She developed a concept of politics and public freedom that serves as a critical standard for judging what is wrong with politics today.

Richard J. Bernstein argues that Arendt should be read today because her penetrating insights help us to think about both the darkness of our times and the sources of illumination. He explores her thinking about statelessness and refugees; the right to have rights; her critique of Zionism; the meaning of the banality of evil; the complex relations between truth, lying, power, and violence; the tradition of the revolutionary spirit; and the urgent need for each of us to assume responsibility for our political lives.

This short and very readable book will be of great interest to anyone who wants to understand the forces that are shaping our world today.
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Statelessness and Refugees
  • The Right to Have Rights
  • Loyal Opposition: Arendt’s Critique of Zionism
  • Racism and Segregation
  • The Banality of Evil
  • Truth, Politics and Lying
  • Plurality, Politics, and Public Freedom
  • The American Revolution and the Revolutionary Spirit
  • Personal and Political Responsibility
  • Works Cited
“This is a short and wonderful book. Bernstein enables us to see that Arendt’s life’s work, which was to bear and to discern the meaning of the burdens of her times, has become our task today.”
Jerome Kohn, Trustee of the Hannah Arendt Bluecher Literary Trust