KCDC Book Club: The Origins of Totalitarianism
Now that we find ourselves in the age of “alternative facts,” it’s important to look at how seemingly petty political arguments can pave the road to global catastrophes.
In the aftermath of World War II, philosopher and Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt decided to take a close look at both Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, finding many similarities in their histories that ultimately led the two countries to totalitarian regimes. Her resulting book, 1951’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, is still considered one of the most important books of political theory.
Because the book is so long and dense, we’ll only be discussing a handful of chapters in which Arendt’s theories really come to light:
- Chapter 8: Continental Imperialism: The Pan-Movements
- Chapter 9: The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man
- Chapter 10: A Classless Society
- Chapter 11: The Totalitarian Movement
Some background knowledge of European history is helpful in understanding specifics in the book, but the overall theories should be relatively clear to every reader (perhaps with a little bit of Googling along the way).
Unfortunately, the DC Public Library does not carry The Origins of Totalitarianism, but you can buy a copy from Kramerbooks in Dupont or access a free PDF version online.
Washington, DC 20001
Please note that this is a 4th-floor walk-up.
Address will be emailed upon registration.