Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College
24Jul/16Off
Amor Mundi

Amor Mundi, July 24th 2016 – #100in10 Edition

Arendt/Schmitt

Hannah Arendt considered calling her magnum opus Amor Mundi: Love of the World. Instead, she settled upon The Human Condition. What is most difficult, Arendt writes, is to love the world as it is, with all the evil and suffering in it. And yet she came to do just that. Loving the world means neither uncritical acceptance nor contemptuous rejection. Above all it means the unwavering facing up to and comprehension of that which is.

Every Sunday, The Hannah Arendt Center Amor Mundi Weekly Newsletter will offer our favorite essays and blog posts from around the web. These essays will help you comprehend the world. And learn to love it.

Arendt vs. Trump (and Schmitt)

Arendt/Schmitt

Feisal G. Mohamed writes at The Stone in The New York Times that the U.S. Presidential election can be understood as a contest between the ideas of Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt.

“Listening to Donald J. Trump’s acceptance speech, I felt as though the election was turning into a battle between two very different, though equally formidable, 20th-century political philosophers, Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt. “The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced,” Schmitt wrote in his 1927 work, “The Concept of the Political,” “is that between friend and enemy.” It is a statement meant to be descriptive, rather than prescriptive: The friend-enemy distinction is central to politics in the same way that a good-evil distinction is central to ethics and a beautiful-ugly distinction is central to aesthetics. All other considerations are peripheral to this core concern.”

Schmitt’s “friend and enemy” distinction is the basis of his understanding of politics as a contest between conflicting groups or tribes. Schmitt sees it as realist counsel to understand that politics is about groups fighting other groups. To win and succeed, any political unity must be willing to sacrifice and fight for itself and against other groups. A political order for Schmitt is not a matter of laws that treat all people equally. When we mistake legality for politics, Schmitt argues, we weaken the friend/enemy distinction and the bonds of unity amongst friends in opposition to enemies that is the core of politics. Politics is the expression of the truth of a people in opposition to its enemies; and the Schmittian political dictator is the one gifted with the ability to speak for the people in a way that unifies and brings that people to exist. Trumps “I am your voice” is a true example of a Schmittian political dictator.

Continue on Medium…

 


22Jul/16Off
100/10 Membership Challenge

Our 2016 100/10 Membership Challenge Contests and Drawings Begin!

HAC 100_10 logo 2015

We at the Hannah Arendt Center are very excited about this year’s 100/10 membership challenge, especially all of the contests and drawings we have planned!

The Big Three

First up, we have three drawings that will last the duration of the challenge. Each of these contests has its own rules:

  1. Perks for New and Renewing Members - All new members receive a complimentary copy of the inaugural HA Journal, Vol. I. Additionally, All new & renewing members are all entered into a raffle for a complimentary DVD of the film, Hannah Arendt by Margarethe von Trotta
  2. Referral Challenge – Like last year, we have included a text field in our membership form that reads, “Please enter the contact name of the person who requested you to submit your donation.” If you have a friend enter your name here when they are purchasing or renewing their membership, you will be entered into a drawing to win our Tote Bag package, which includes (1) HA Tote Bag, (1) copy of HA: The Journal, Vol. 1, 2, 3 and 4, and (1) signed copy of Thinking in Dark Times.

    ha library

    Hannah Arendt's Library

  3. $1000 Challenge – Any person who purchases or renews a membership of $1000 and above will be entered to win a copy of Hannah Arendt’s Library, an exclusive artist book by Heinz Peter Knes, Danh Vo, and Amy Zion. More info can be found about the book here: http://hac.bard.edu/membership/

The winners will all be announced sometime on or after Sunday, July 31st after their names have been selected in a random drawing.

Please note that different winners will be selected for the Referral and $1000 challenges.

Social Media Mini-Contests!

We also have three mini-contests scheduled, all of which have the same basic guidelines:

Share, like or comment any Tweet/Status Update/Instagram posted during our #100in10 Challenge and you will be entered into a drawing for three (3) Tote Bag Packages.

We will be giving away three (3) Tote Bag Packages, one on July 26th, another on July 29th, and the last one on August 1st. Each contest will run a total of approximately three days. At midnight on the 25th, the 28th, and August 1st, we will close each of our contests and will draw a winner randomly from those who have participated. We will then contact the winner and announce their names on our social media accounts pending their approval. This means that each person has three chances to win, but please note you can win only once. **Each entrant may enter on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram

A few rules to consider:

Facebook

  • Anyone found to be using multiple accounts in this contest will be deemed ineligible to win and will be withdrawn from all future contests during this year’s challenge.
  • Participants can only be entered ONCE for each one of the three mini-contests. We have three mini-contests scheduled, which means each person has three chances to win. However, please note you can only win once, regardless of whether it is on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram
  • You will NOT be considered an entrant if you use your personal Timeline or someone else’s Timeline to share a contest post. Entry into each contest is limited to liking or commenting the contest post, which will be found on our Facebook page.
  • Please note that this contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. As such, all entrants to this promotion agree to release Facebook of all responsibility.

Twitter

  • Anyone found to be using multiple accounts in this contest will be deemed ineligible to win and will be withdrawn from all future contests during this year’s challenge.
  • Participants can only be entered ONCE for each one of the three mini-contests. We have three mini-contests scheduled, which means each person has three chances to win. However, please note you can only win once, regardless of whether it is on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram
  • Please make sure to include our Twitter handle, @Arendt_Center, in your Tweet should you decide to re-Tweet our contest post.
  • Please note that this contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Twitter. As such, all entrants to this promotion agree to release Twitter of all responsibility.

Instagram

  • Anyone found to be using multiple accounts in this contest will be deemed ineligible to win and will be withdrawn from all future contests during this year’s challenge.
  • Participants can only be entered ONCE for each one of the three mini-contests. We have three mini-contests scheduled, which means each person has three chances to win. However, please note you can only win once, regardless of whether it is on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram
  • Please make sure to include our Instagram handle, @hannaharendtcenteratbard, in your "regram" should you decide to regram our contest post.
  • Please note that this contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. As such, all entrants to this promotion agree to release Instagram of all responsibility.

New Membership Thank-You

As part of The Big Three mentioned above, all new members will receive a free copy of the Hannah Arendt Center’s inaugural edition of the HA: The Journal. Additionally, all new & renewing members are entered into a raffle for a complimentary DVD of the film, Hannah Arendt by Margarethe von Trotta. More information on the journal can be found here.

blackandredlogoAny questions, comments, or concerns should be directed to Daniel Fiege, Media Coordinator of the Hannah Arendt Center, at dfiege@bard.edu.

Thank you, and good luck to all of the participants!

Sincerely,

The Hannah Arendt Center

22Jul/16Off
100/10 Membership Challenge

2016 100/10 Challenge – An Open Letter from Academic Director, Roger Berkowitz

HAC 100_10 logo 2015

Dear Friends,

Hannah Arendt insisted on loving the world in even the darkest times. Dedicated to thinking about our world with the fearless and provocative spirit that Arendt brought to everything she wrote, the Hannah Arendt Center works to find in Arendt's unique and brilliant thinking a path to rethink our basic understandings.

Edward Snowden during a Q&A session at "Why Privacy Matters"

Edward Snowden during a Q&A session at "Why Privacy Matters"

Last year's Annual Fall Conference "Why Privacy Matters" featured Edward Snowden. In October 2016, we host "Real Talk: Difficult Questions About Race, Sex, and Religion on Campus." Featured speakers include Claudia Rankine, Mary Gaitskill, and Hilton Als. In all we do, the Arendt Center works to actualize Arendt's ideal of political thinking, bringing together philosophers, poets, artists, business leaders, and academics from multiple backgrounds to think what we are doing.

The Arendt Center relies on your generous support. We exist at Bard College, in prisons through the Bard Prison Initiative, in Bard's early colleges in Newark, NYC, Cleveland, Baltimore, and New Orleans, in public programs in New York City, in Berlin, on the web, in our Journal, in our Amor Mundi newsletter, and through our Post-Doctoral Fellowships. All of this work is supported by our members.

Today we launch our annual 100/10 Member Challenge: 100 new members in 10 days! If you are already a member, we hope that you'll renew. If you haven't yet joined, we ask you to become part of our world.

Arendt Center Members gain free admission to our Conferences and Lectures and are eligible to participate in our Virtual Reading Group.

HA: The Journal

HA: The Journal of The Hannah Arendt Center

All new members will receive a copy of the 2011 inaugural issue of HA: The Journal of the Hannah Arendt Center, featuring essays by Marianne Constable, Leon Botstein, Jerome Kohn, Patchen Markell, Babette Babich, Peg Birmingham, George Kateb, and many others.

All new and renewing members are entered in a drawing for special prizes including a DVD of “Hannah Arendt,” the movie by Margarethe von Trotta and a signed copy of Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics.

We have a number of exciting contests during our 100/10 challenge! I’d like to mention two in particular. First, our $1000 Challenge offers new members at the $1000 level entrance into a drawing for the opportunity to win Hannah Arendt's Library, a beautiful artist book by Heinz Peter Knes, Danh Vo, and Amy Zion. Learn more about the book here.

Second, we have a Referral Challenge, which gives you the opportunity to win a Tote Bag Package when you refer family or friends to join the center. The Tote Bag Package includes: (1) HA Tote Bag, HA: The Journal, Vol. 1, 2, 3 and 4 and a signed copy of Thinking in Dark Times.

Simultaneously to these two challenges, drawings for 3 additional Tote Bag Packages are being made for 3 lucky fans who help spread the word of our campaign via social media (look for the #ShareArendt posts). For more details on this and all of our contests and member perks, visit our membership page.

2016 Real Talk Tote Bags

2016 Real Talk Tote Bags

Lastly, all members receive free admittance to our 9th Annual Conference, Real Talk: Difficult Questions About Race, Sex, and Religion on Campus, which takes place on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 20-21. Register here. You can learn more about becoming a member and membership here.

Bold thinking about politics in the humanist style of Hannah Arendt is profoundly necessary in our increasingly thoughtless era. The Arendt Center exists to nurture provocative thinking about politics and ethics. We are grateful for your confidence in us and your engagement in our work to build a community around the thinking Hannah Arendt.

We thank you in advance and look forward to seeing you at our future events.

Roger Berkowitz

17Jul/16Off
Amor Mundi

Amor Mundi, July 17th 2016

Black Lives Matter

Hannah Arendt considered calling her magnum opus Amor Mundi: Love of the World. Instead, she settled upon The Human Condition. What is most difficult, Arendt writes, is to love the world as it is, with all the evil and suffering in it. And yet she came to do just that. Loving the world means neither uncritical acceptance nor contemptuous rejection. Above all it means the unwavering facing up to and comprehension of that which is.

Every Sunday, The Hannah Arendt Center Amor Mundi Weekly Newsletter will offer our favorite essays and blog posts from around the web. These essays will help you comprehend the world. And learn to love it.

You Were Looking in a Different Direction

Black Lives Matter

Christopher Lebron writes in The Stone about an imagined conversation with someone who doesn’t understand the importance of Black Lives Matter. Over and again Lebron – who will be speaking at the Arendt Center Conference “Real Talk” in October – tries to explain why he and others believe that in contemporary America, Black Lives Do Not Matter; in trying to speak to people who don’t understand him, Lebron rightly takes up the challenge of politics, of persuading people who disagree with him.

“Here’s one way of making sense of the misfire between us. You are with me when I am making my general comments about America’s foundational aspects. You are likely still with me on the observations about slavery. You may begin to edge away from our shared space of critical judgment somewhere around Jim Crow, but the horrors of lynching may persuade you to stay. The place, or the time rather, I mostly likely lose you is 1964. In your mind, our celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. made the world right in helping to usher in the era of formal equality when he cornered Lyndon B. Johnson into pushing for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In your mind, that moment introduced a new world order in which blacks could no longer be victims. The law had set them free and listed the bad things that people could no longer do. Moreover, it said that those people would be held responsible for the bad things they did. Thus, even if bad things happened to black people, the law would settle all accounts; therefore, no one could ever claim again that blacks were at the special mercy of racism. You, at this point, are sure that my proposition cannot be true since it fails to correspond.

As I said, I see the mistake I’ve made, but it’s not in my construction of the truth. It is in presuming that you and I were ever speaking about the same thing. And the reason we weren’t speaking about the same thing is that we were not looking in the same direction; thus, our basis for correspondence is mismatched.

The direction I was looking toward was the internal life of a black person in America. The very real anxieties and fears we have in whether our ambitions are as secure as any other American’s. Whether our opportunities are equal. Whether our health care is of sufficient quality. Whether our college degrees are of equal worth. Whether our spouses will make it home from the grocery store. Whether our children will one day counsel a parent that everything will be O.K. while someone is slumped over in the car seat in front of her, bleeding to death after being shot by a police officer.

You were looking in an altogether different direction. You were looking in the direction of your own innocence. Though you bought a house in an entirely segregated neighborhood, it’s not your fault the schools are better where you live. Though you have only one black friend, it’s not your fault because your friends are your co-workers and your company or university is doing poorly on diversity. Though it’s a shame that this black man or woman died (pick one, any one), it’s not your fault that the police officer you pay with your tax dollars and who is sworn to protect you did so at the expense of an unnecessary killing.

And none of these are your fault because that day in 1964 made it all right – the law said what could not happen, and thus, it must not be happening. Your sense of America is predicated on the assumption of a reliable and stable democratic system. We cannot possibly speak about the same thing given these conditions.

That is a problem. A core idea of democratic life is consensus citizens coming to a wide agreement on contentious issues. Americans disagree on all kinds of issues, but this one, whether black lives matter, is genuinely special and momentous. We have the facts: systemic racial inequality and rampant police-perpetrated killings. Then we have the observation of those facts seen from our distinct perspectives. Everything depends on you and I not only agreeing in our judgment but also taking up the proper positions to get genuine buy-in for the sake of justice. If you insist on standing where you do while I stand where I stand, there will never be agreement that black lives don’t matter in America.”


10Jul/16Off
Amor Mundi

Amor Mundi, July 10th 2016

Otto Kerner, chair of the Kerner commission

Hannah Arendt considered calling her magnum opus Amor Mundi: Love of the World. Instead, she settled upon The Human Condition. What is most difficult, Arendt writes, is to love the world as it is, with all the evil and suffering in it. And yet she came to do just that. Loving the world means neither uncritical acceptance nor contemptuous rejection. Above all it means the unwavering facing up to and comprehension of that which is.

Every Sunday, The Hannah Arendt Center Amor Mundi Weekly Newsletter will offer our favorite essays and blog posts from around the web. These essays will help you comprehend the world. And learn to love it.

Politics and Prejudice

Otto Kerner, chair of the Kerner commission

Julian E. Zelizer in The Atlantic writes that the racial divergence of the present recalls the post-riot period of the 1960s. Zelizer returns to the Kerner Commission report, requested but then ignored by Lyndon Johnson.

“[Kerner] Commission staffers had produced a blistering and radical draft report on November 22, 1967. The 176-page report, “The America of Racism,” recounted the deep-seated racial divisions that shaped urban America, and it was damning about Johnson’s beloved Great Society programs, which the report said offered only token assistance while leaving the “white power structure” in place. What’s more, the draft treated rioting as an understandable political response to racial oppression. “A truly revolutionary spirit has begun to take hold,” they wrote, “an unwillingness to compromise or wait any longer, to risk death rather than have their people continue in a subordinate status.” Kerner then nixed the report, and his staff director fired all 120 social scientists who had worked on it.

Continue on Medium…

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3Jul/16Off
Amor Mundi

Amor Mundi, July 3rd 2016

return-of-american-politics-fireworks-washington

Hannah Arendt considered calling her magnum opus Amor Mundi: Love of the World. Instead, she settled upon The Human Condition. What is most difficult, Arendt writes, is to love the world as it is, with all the evil and suffering in it. And yet she came to do just that. Loving the world means neither uncritical acceptance nor contemptuous rejection. Above all it means the unwavering facing up to and comprehension of that which is.

Every Sunday, The Hannah Arendt Center Amor Mundi Weekly Newsletter will offer our favorite essays and blog posts from around the web. These essays will help you comprehend the world. And learn to love it.

The Return of American Politics

The rise of anti-politics is going mainstream. David Brooks penned a column this week bewailing the disregard of politics in the U.S. and around the world. His opening gambit makes sense, arguing that politics is about the engagements among plural people who have different opinions in a common public sphere. He writes:

“Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.

The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. Politics is a muddled activity in which people have to recognize restraints and settle for less than they want. Disappointment is normal.

But that’s sort of the beauty of politics, too. It involves an endless conversation in which we learn about other people and see things from their vantage point and try to balance their needs against our own. Plus, it’s better than the alternative: rule by some authoritarian tyrant who tries to govern by clobbering everyone in his way.

As Bernard Crick wrote in his book, “In Defence of Politics,” “Politics is a way of ruling divided societies without undue violence.””

27Jun/16Off
Courage to Change

The Courage to Change: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age

tillich-arendt-gandhi-gyatso

We're thankful to so many who attended the "Courage to Change" discussions this month, hosted alongside Joe Loizzo of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, at the Tibet House in Manhattan. We had a wonderful time discussing the ideas and actions of courageous thinkers with you.

The feedback has been excellent.

For those of you who missed the dialogue, we offer you the audio below:

June 01: Hannah Arendt and the Courage to Think, Responsibility and Judgment, 159-189

June 08: The Dalai Lama and the Courage to Care, Ethics for the New Millennium, 19-77

June 15: Paul Tillich and the Courage to Be, The Courage to Be, 79-175

June 22: Mahatma Gandhi and the Courage to Change, Hind Swaraj, 64-117

Also, we are soft-launching our very own podcast on iTunes and offer the series there for your listening pleasure (Non-iTunes users: access our podcast via the RSS URL: http://www.hannaharendtcenter.org/feed/podcast).

27Jun/16Off
Courage to Change

The Courage to Change: Mahatma Gandhi

tillich-arendt-gandhi-gyatso

Audio from the series, The Courage to Change, co-hosted by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz at the Tibet House in NYC on Wednesdays in June 2016.

For this segment from June 22nd, Roger and Joe discuss Mahatma Gandhi's work, Hind Swaraj (p.64-117), examining the courage to change.

"Class 4: Mahatma Gandhi and the Courage to Change (1 of 2)" from The Courage to Change: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz. Released: 2016.

 

"Class 4: Mahatma Gandhi and the Courage to Change (2 of 2)" from The Courage to Change: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz. Released: 2016.

26Jun/16Off
Amor Mundi

Amor Mundi, June 26th 2016

unionjack and eu flags

Hannah Arendt considered calling her magnum opus Amor Mundi: Love of the World. Instead, she settled upon The Human Condition. What is most difficult, Arendt writes, is to love the world as it is, with all the evil and suffering in it. And yet she came to do just that. Loving the world means neither uncritical acceptance nor contemptuous rejection. Above all it means the unwavering facing up to and comprehension of that which is.

Every Sunday, The Hannah Arendt Center Amor Mundi Weekly Newsletter will offer our favorite essays and blog posts from around the web. These essays will help you comprehend the world. And learn to love it.

The Expert Meets Reality

Brexit icon

There are many interpretations of the vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. It is undoubtedly a story of the rise of nationalism and even xenophobia and racism around the world. The campaign also was notable for the brazen dissemination of misinformation and outright lies. The “Leave” voters in England clearly deviated from the usual script of putting their pocket books first as they voted against their economic self interest. But most observers have by now understood that the Brexit vote is above all about the rise of populism and the distrust of elites and experts.

In the Financial Times, Philip Stephens argues that an anti-expert populism was the driving force for Brexit: “One of the more revealing moments of the Brexit campaign came when Michael Gove, a Conservative Outer once close to Prime Minister David Cameron, said: “People in this country have had enough of experts.” There it is: a celebration of ignorance that writes the opening line of the populists’ playbook. How long before Mr. Gove, a former education secretary, is piling books on to bonfires? Modern democracies operate within a framework of rationalism. Dismantle it and the space is filled by prejudice. Fear counts above reason; anger above evidence. Lies claim equal status with facts. Soon enough, migrants — and Muslims especially — replace heretics and witches as the targets of public rage.”

22Jun/16Off
Courage to Change

The Courage to Change: Paul Tillich

tillich-arendt-gandhi-gyatso

Audio from the series, The Courage to Change, co-hosted by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz at the Tibet House in NYC on Wednesdays in June 2016.

For this segment from June 15th, Roger and Joe discuss Paul Tillich's work, The Courage to Be (p.79-175), examining the courage to think.

"Class 3: Paul Tillich and the Courage to Be (1 of 2)" from The Courage to Change: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz. Released: 2016.

 

"Class 3: Paul Tillich and the Courage to Be (2 of 2)" from The Courage to Change: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz. Released: 2016.

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Amor Mundi

Amor Mundi, June 19th 2016

knotted-gun

Hannah Arendt considered calling her magnum opus Amor Mundi: Love of the World. Instead, she settled upon The Human Condition. What is most difficult, Arendt writes, is to love the world as it is, with all the evil and suffering in it. And yet she came to do just that. Loving the world means neither uncritical acceptance nor contemptuous rejection. Above all it means the unwavering facing up to and comprehension of that which is.

Every Sunday, The Hannah Arendt Center Amor Mundi Weekly Newsletter will offer our favorite essays and blog posts from around the web. These essays will help you comprehend the world. And learn to love it.

Judging Speech

Free speech is an unpopular value; we only speak of free speech when the words in question are offensive. All the more reason why we need to understand why free speech matters and when to invoke the freedom of speech—and when not to.

For example, when students at Yale last year called for the dismissal of a professor for her views in an email, their call itself was an exercise of free speech. They were wrongly criticized for violating free speech, when in fact they were exercising their freedoms. That the students were wrong in their call to censor and punish a professor for her opinions doesn’t deprive them of their rights. Had Yale caved to their demands and dismissed the professor, however, that would indeed run afoul of the ethos of free speech. We must always recall that the overriding point of freedom of speech is to encourage and protect political argumentation, even political arguments like those that the students made, arguments that are wrong and offensive.

14Jun/16Off
Courage to Change

The Courage to Change: Hannah Arendt

tillich-arendt-gandhi-gyatso

Audio from the series, The Courage to Change, co-hosted by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz at the Tibet House in NYC on Wednesdays in June 2016.

For this segment from June 1st, Roger and Joe discuss Hannah Arendt's work, Responsibility and Judgment (p.159-189), examining the courage to think.

"Class 1: Hannah Arendt and the Courage to Think (1 of 2)" from The Courage to Change: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz. Released: 2016.

 

"Class 1: Hannah Arendt and the Courage to Think (2 of 2)" from The Courage to Change: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz. Released: 2016.

14Jun/16Off
Courage to Change

The Courage to Change: The Dalai Lama

tillich-arendt-gandhi-gyatso

Audio from the series, The Courage to Change, co-hosted by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz at the Tibet House in NYC on Wednesdays in June 2016.

For this segment from June 8th, Roger and Joe discuss the Dalai Lama's work, Ethics for the New Millennium (p.19-77), examining the courage to care.

"Class 2: The Dalai Lama and the Courage to Care (1 of 2)" from The Courage to Change: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz. Released: 2016.

 

"Class 2: The Dalai Lama and the Courage to Care (2 of 2)" from The Courage to Change: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age by Joe Loizzo and Roger Berkowitz. Released: 2016.

12Jun/16Off
Amor Mundi

Amor Mundi, June 12th 2016

knotted-gun

Hannah Arendt considered calling her magnum opus Amor Mundi: Love of the World. Instead, she settled upon The Human Condition. What is most difficult, Arendt writes, is to love the world as it is, with all the evil and suffering in it. And yet she came to do just that. Loving the world means neither uncritical acceptance nor contemptuous rejection. Above all it means the unwavering facing up to and comprehension of that which is.

Every Sunday, The Hannah Arendt Center Amor Mundi Weekly Newsletter will offer our favorite essays and blog posts from around the web. These essays will help you comprehend the world. And learn to love it.

The Art of Lying in Politics

Corey Robin, while considering the recent jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas, argues that Thomas’ attempt to expand free speech rights for advertisers owes a debt to Hannah Arendt.

“When the First Amendment protects political speech—including, importantly, political speech that is false—it is precisely, Thomas seems to be suggesting, this dimension of speech that lies at the boundaries between fact and fiction that it is protecting.

At the heart of this kind of political action, then, is a straddling of that elusive space between what is, what is not, and what might be. Machiavelli understood that; Hobbes understood that (Leviathan’s massive power is generated in part, as I’ve argued, by healthy and alternating doses of illusion and reality); Nietzsche did, too.

In the modern era, however, no theorist explored that dimension of political action—in both its toxic and tamer variants—more than Hannah Arendt. The toxic variant was to be found in all manner of totalitarianism, as well as in the lies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. The tamer variants, however, were found in that dimension of action that involved elements of novelty and initiation, in an appreciation that politics is not the realm of Platonic Truth, a deep structure of what is, beneath the surface or behind the scenes, but of multiple and dissonant perspectives on stage, which provide an occasion for persuasive speech and artfulness.

Though Arendt was not nearly as hostile to factual truth as some would have her be, she did offer, between the lines of some of her essays, an appreciation of the art of the liar, for she saw that art as related, in some ways, to the political arts more generally.

The liar is an actor, in the literal sense, and politics, as Arendt reminds us, is a theater of appearances.

But the liar is also an actor in the political sense: she seeks to change the world, turning what is into what isn’t and what isn’t into what is (this is the part that made Arendt so nervous, as it reminded her of the totalitarian ruler). By arraying herself against the world as it is given to us, the liar claims for herself the same freedom that the political actor claims when she brings something new into the world: the freedom to say no to the world as it is, the freedom to make the world into something other than it is.

It’s no accident that the most famous liar in literature is also an adviser to a man of power, for the adviser or counselor has often been thought of as the quintessential political actor. When Iago says to Roderigo, “I am not what I am,” he is affirming that the liar, the dramatic actor, and the political actor all subscribe to elements of the same creed.

The advertiser operates in a similar realm between truth and illusion. She, too, seeks to use the arts of illusion to create new realities. Thomas seems to be emphasizing that dimension of the advertiser’s art.”

Robin is correct that Arendt understands the political role of the liar. Politics for Arendt is about opinion and some opinions are absolutely essential to our liberal democratic world. For example, the idea that “All men are equal” is one of those lies, those fictions, that Arendt argues is a great achievement of modern politics. Of course not all men are equal in any factual sense. But the political conviction that we are politically equal underlies the possibility of politics. Such is the kind of political lying that Arendt recognizes as important.

9Jun/16Off
Courage To Be

The Courage to Be: Danfung Dennis

Courage to Be Student Fellows Clara Gallagher and Milan Miller with Roger Berkowitz and Danfung Dennis

On Monday, April 25th, the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College welcomed filmmaker Danfung Dennis as keynote speaker for its third “Courage to Be” Dinner/Lecture of the Spring 2016 semester.

Written by 2016 Student Fellows Clara Gallagher and Milan Miller

Danfung Dennis, an Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker and well-published photojournalist, gave a lecture titled “Infusing Technology With Moral Courage to Fight for Human and Animal Rights.”

Dennis opened his lecture with a brief overview of his Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning and Academy Award nominated film, Hell and Back Again, which takes the trope of the courageous heroics of a soldier on the war front, risking life and limb for his country, and exposes the true courage of that same figure as he returns home and proceeds to live in a place that refuses to acknowledge the lasting effects of these experiences. The courage here lies both within the soldier, in his struggles on the battlefield and the home front, and Dennis himself, as he risked his life in the same war zone as the soldier wielding nothing but a camera as his defense.