Hannah and Me: Introduction

To skip this introduction and go directly to today’s In-Depth Analysis, “Hannah and Me: Understanding Politics in Dark Times,” click here.

A few years ago, I was invited to take part in a conference on Hannah Arendt in Brasilia. It was a gathering of political theorists and philosophers for the most part. I knew that the papers presented to the conference would offer a variety of close readings of Arendt challenging thought, considering the significance of her work as it fit in with or challenged other philosophies and political theories. I didn’t feel that I had much to offer in this register, so I decided to do something a bit different.

Since Arendt has been a guide for me for understanding remarkable political events, first and foremost the challenge to and the resulting downfall of previously existing socialism in East and Central Europe, which I witnessed from the early 1970s, I decided to explain how I came to lean on her thought in my attempt to understand the significance of events that others were overlooking. I explained how I first underestimated Arendt, how a student forced me to pay attention and how she helped me address unique developments of our time with a critical perspective beyond the clichés of partisan thought: conservative and liberal, left and right, communist and anti-communist, terrorist, anti-terrorist and anti- anti -terrorist.

I have decided to post my talk here, which was published in Portuguese, as an extension of my review of Hannah Arendt, the movie, a film I appreciated but felt was a bit too one sided and overlooked the richness of Arendt’s thought (given the limits of film, quite understandable). Though I never met her, Arendt has been speaking to me for the last thirty plus years as I have been trying to make sense of a perplexing political world. Here you can listen in to some high points in our dialogue.

To read the In-Depth Analysis, “Hannah and Me: Understanding Politics in Dark Times,” click here.