Hannah ArendtHannah Arendt, (1906-1975) German-American political theorist, escaped Nazi Germany

Hannah Arendt Quote

“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 ArendtHannah Arendt
~ Hannah Arendt

'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.

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

Great observation!

E Archer, NYC

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.

Lucille A. Petillo, Ocean, NJ

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

Mick, manchester

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.

E Archer, NYC
  • 3
  • Reply
E Archer, NYC Mick, manchester 7/30/18

Wealth redistribution IS totalitarian, it cannot happen any other way, unless people voluntarily give, then it is charity.  The denial of charity and compassion among people themselves but somehow residing in government is a totalitarian pillar.  Upon closer examination, the poorer neighborhoods are kept in a constant state of disrepair in order to raise more money.  Like a sick patient being treated for the symptoms indefinitely rather than giving the cure.  The cure, as always, rests with the individual, and when he is ready to take the needle out of his arm, he may discover that he can make his own way.

Robert, Somewhere in the US

Great quote!
Totalitarianism is the beginning of the end... those that think otherwise are soon vanquished by the people.

Robert, Somewhere in the US

Perhaps I should delete the word "soon"

Patrick Henry, Red Hill

The foremost, fearsome, faculty of totalitarians and totalitarians-in-waiting is their facility for identifying and cultivating frailties that radically reside in Fallen Man.

As the illustrious Cicero expressed it:

" ... he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation,he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared."

Mary, MI
  • 2
  • Reply
Mary, MI    7/30/18

Excellent and wise quote from Hannah Arendt, who had escaped Hitler's Totalitarian Regime.

E Archer, NYC

Has anyone noticed how totalitarian the Democrat party platform has become?  Forget about the words 'socialism, communism, fascism'  totalitarianism is what it is.  'New rules' always coming out of their mouth in order to perfect their domination of the health and wealth of the people.  All 'we need' are more regulators to oversee it all and make adjustments accordingly.  And people are demanding this?(!!) 

The fact that the Democrats do not even see their own collusion with totalitarianism is the scariest part.  The globalist Republicans follow the same play book.  The battle to rule the world does not stop...

Felipe, São Paulo

Awesome quote. Perfectly on point.
And important nowadays, since the left in most coutries has now been reduced to only repeat the most extremist leftist ideas, and the communication between sides have been cut. And those extremists... well, we all know they are totalitarian not only in nature, but in speech.

Mary, MI
  • 1
  • Reply
Mary, MI    8/1/19

Read, Totally Absorb and Learn, Learn, Learn!

jim k, Austin

The last sentence of this quote really says i all.


Get a Quote-a-Day!

Liberty Quotes sent to your mail box daily.