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The Birth of Totalitarianism

In Arendt’s writing titled “The Origins of Totalitarianism”, she deduces the notion that the only way to truly have power over a mass of people can be traced back to dividing that aforementioned mass of people. As power began to expand and evolve, the idea of separation became ever more clear, particularly in Great Britain and the United States. Since she is dissecting these cohabitation of peoples post-slavery, it is clear that these two countries both had their troubles with this “issue”. For example, Arendt writes that the abolishment of slavery created “a highly confused public opinion which was fertile soil for the various naturalistic doctrines which arose in those decades”, and this notion of “fertile soil” can still be seen in the 21st century political climate. For instance, the constant belittling of one’s opponent and constant spread of political propaganda are solely intended to sow the seeds of distrust among the public, for if the public is divided then no one person is able to gain power per say. Yet, the most curious aspect of this decision to divide, is that their is no true basis for one’s hatred of another, it is simply just pure hatred. In this work, Arendt notes of a sect of people called “polygenism”, which means that one seeks to isolate all people that are the same together: “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”. I think that this sect of people perfectly encapsulates the idea that common dictators have, that a nation divided cannot thrive.

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