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Literary Analysis on Total Domination by Hannah Arendt

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Outline
Thesis: A key concept to understanding Hannah Arendt’s “Total Domination” is the essence of terror and the importance of concentration camps in maintaining the Nazi totalitarian state.

1. There are numerous parts to the ideology behind the fundamental belief of totalitarianism.

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A) “…that everything is possible, is being verified.”(Total Domination, 280)

B) This ideology “strives to organize the infinite plurality and differentiation of [humans]” (Total Domination, 280) C) Totalitarianism wishes to achieve “a kind of human species resembling other animal species…” ( Total Domination, 280) D) Their objective is to identify, per say, “the opposition and defeat it, to inflict total terror.

2. The importance of concentration and extermination camps in the Nazi totalitarian state.

A) A crucial part of the enforcement of this fundamental belief is the “ideological indoctrination of the elite formations…” (Total Domination, 283)

B) The violent aspect of the enforcement of this fundamental belief involved “absolute terror in the camps” (Total Domination, 283)

C) Due to general acceptance and banal compliance, “the atrocities…become…the practical application of the ideological indoctrination” (Total Domination, 282) D) In reference to how important concentration camps are, “these camps are the true central institution of totalitarian organizational power.

3. Nazism enforces a scientific and vicious attempt against human spontaneity. A) An evident theme in totalitarian ideology is “eliminating,…, spontaneity itself as an expression of human behavior” ( Total Domination, 283)

B) Another reference of how important the camps were, “It is only in the concentration camps that such experiment is at all possible” (Total Domination, 283)

C) An overwhelming theme in Nazi ideology is the “nihilistic principle that everything is permitted” (Total Domination, 285)

D) This whole ideology is not only flawed but quite stupid in the sense that only man or his Creator, alone, can change a man’s character. Evidently, the stimulus had no such effect like the Nazis had theorized.

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People – Spontaneity = Total Domination

A key concept to understanding Hannah Arendt’s “Total Domination” is the essence of terror and its importance in maintaining a totalitarian state. Although some may speculate that a conveniently evil understanding of social Darwinism may be held responsible for the great crimes committed. But promoting ones twisted ideals through propaganda is one thing, but turning an entire nation against a religious group and using martial law and concentration camps to enforce such ideals, is another thing entirely. Through analyses of “Total Domination” I intend to comment on the role of terror in the totalitarian state, and it’s utilization of concentration camps to further support this evil.

First, I wish to explain or describe a few facets of the ideology behind the fundamental belief of totalitarianism. Part of this ideology involves the semi-nihilistic concept “that everything is possible, is being verified.” (Total Domination, 282) This means that although the Nazis display an open minded approach to knowing the possibilities, their ambitions to obtain certain knowledge take them severely too far. This ideology “strives to organize the infinitely plurality and differentiation of [humans]” (Total Domination, 282). In other words they think of everyone to be the same, and totally disregard the fact that all humans have personalities completely unique to themselves. Due to this lack of empathy, totalitarianism wishes to achieve “a kind of human species resembling other animal species…” (Total Domination, 282) For example, how animals only freedom is of self-preservation. They wanted humans to forget their previous attitudes and behavioral tendencies, other than that of staying alive. The last aspect I
wish to describe of the ideology behind totalitarianism is the objective of identifying “the Guerra 2

People – Spontaneity = Total Domination
opposition and [defeating] it, [in order] to inflict total terror. Arendt simply points out that in order for total terror to be inflicted the Nazis had to do away with all opposition. The lack of opposition would give the Nazis, perhaps, a sense of security while they executed millions of people.

After this ideology was generally accepted, concentration and extermination camps were established and were of primary importance to the Nazi totalitarian state. A crucial part of the enforcement of these fundamental beliefs was the “ideological indoctrination of the elite formations…” (Total Domination, 282) The elite formations were the SS men and the guards of the concentration camps. Their brainwashing was especially important to keep this evil system in line. The violent aspect of the enforcement of this twisted ideology involved “absolute terror in the camps” (Total Domination, 282) Cruelty was of great importance to the dehumanization of the inmates in the camps. And due to general acceptance and banal compliance “the atrocities…become…the practical application of the ideological indoctrination” (Total Domination, 282) Furthermore, because most people just supported the Nazis and threw out common sense, the camps became a practical institution in the reinforcement of the totalitarian state. In reference to how important concentration camps were, Arendt mentions “these camps are the true central institution of the totalitarian organizational power.” (Total Domination, 282) Through via concentration camps the Nazis enforce a scientific and vicious attempt

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People – Spontaneity = Total Domination
against human spontaneity. An evident theme in totalitarian ideology is “eliminating… spontaneity itself as an expression of human behavior” (Total Domination, 283) This ideology was experimented with in a scientific manner, within the confines of the concentration camps. Another reference to how important the concentration camps were, Arendt mention in her essay “It
is only in the concentration camps that such experiment is at all possible” (Total Domination, 283) Basically in any other circumstance and or environment the evils executed would not have taken place or at least not have gone as far as killing millions of people in concentration and death camps. Because of the overwhelming theme in Nazi ideology of the “nihilistic principle that everything is permitted” (Total Domination, 283) perhaps this influenced the Nazis to believe that spontaneity could be inhibited from being expressed in human behavior. This whole ideology was not only flawed but quite stupid in the sense that man and/or his Creator alone can change a man’s character and the behaviors he expresses. Evidently the stimulus of concentration camps had no such effect, like the Nazis had theorized. Of course it supported the totalitarian state, but their objective of stimulating a person’s character into their favor by removing spontaneity from human behavior was not achieved. The vastness of these attempts against the genuine human spirit was often too great for western governments to stomach, and although these series of events may have been difficult to believe, there a few who spoke out about the injustices committed. The “approach of Hannah Arendt, condemned the discipline [of American sociology] for systematically failing to appreciate the uniqueness, Guerra 4

People – Spontaneity = Total Domination
enormity and gravity of the events that assailed the epoch.” (American Sociology Review, Identifying the Unprecedented, Intro p.804)

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Works Cited
Arendt, Hannah. “Total Domination.” The World of Ideas. 9th Ed. ED Lee A. Jacobs Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2013. 279 – 292. Print.

Baehr, Peter. “Identifying the Unprecedented: Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, and the critique of sociology.” American Sociological Review. Vol. 67, No. 6 (Dec., 2002) pp. 804 – 831.

Cite this Literary Analysis on Total Domination by Hannah Arendt

Literary Analysis on Total Domination by Hannah Arendt. (2016, Oct 31). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/literary-analysis-on-total-domination-by-hannah-arendt/

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