After Donald Trump won the 2016 American election, the world was in uproar over this astonishing event, and as the world witness more and more rise of far right populism, fervent nationalism and an increase in hate speech, many wondered how all this came about in an age where we are supposed to be more enlightened than our ancestors. It is true then, that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it, and never has that fact become more obvious during these times.
One of the books that has seen a resurgence of popularity after the events in 2016 is Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. First published in 1951, the book traces the rise of two 20th-century totalitarian governments—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—to their roots in colonial imperialism, World War I, and decades of anti-Semitism. Hannah Arendt deftly tracks the beginning of the movement and discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.
If all those sounds very familiar, it is time to sound the alarm, or perhaps it is too late to even do that. How are we to navigate through these dark time? Fortunately for us, the voices of the past can illuminate the way, and these days, historical books like Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism are important beacons to guide our way forward.
– Review by Huda
Get the book here