Vol. 45 No. 3 1978 - page 362

with the victory of wealth over property, by which she meant the
glorification of productivity, consumption, and abundance rather than
a stable and secure holding in the world. Although one can sympathize
with her criticism of unbounded economic growth as an answer
social dilemmas, without at least some expansion of the wealth of
society, no universalization of private property is even remotely possi–
ble. Because of her general hostility to the world of
animal laborans,
she failed to give a convincing social and economic basis to her
political utopia.
The result is that Hannah Arendt left herself vulnerable to the
charge of elitism, even though she rejected the label in
One Revolu–
My quarrel with the "elite" is that the term implies an oligarchic
form of government, the domination of the many by the rule of a few.
From this, one can only conclude-as indeed our whole tradition of
political thought has concluded-that the essence of politics is
rulership and that the dominant political passion is the passion
rule or
govern. This, I propose is profoundly untrue.
What makes this defense implausible is that even granting the possibil–
ity of an isonomic interaction among the members of a political elite, it
is disingenuous to call the relationship between those happy few and
the rest of the population anything but hierarchical and elitist. It
would be little consolation for the masses on the bottom of the heap, as
little as it must have been for Athenian slaves, to be reassured that their
inferiority was incidental to the "essence, the very substance of their
[masters'] lives, which is freedom. " It would be even less to hear that
their oppression cannot be justly called political, because by
politics cannot oppress. What is nonpolitical, she argued, need not
concern itself with equality:
may be that ancient political theory,
which held that economics, since it was bound up with the necessities
of life, needed the rule of masters to function, was not so wrong after
Hannah Arendt's insensitivity
this issue is captured at its most
perverse in her observation that the failure to confront the question of
slavery in the American Revolution was a key source of its "success,"
when it is clear that "success" has been mocked by that neglect ever
since. One can only surmise an unfeeling disdain for the nonpolitical
masses, which is also reflected in
ex cathedra
statements in
such as:
329...,352,353,354,355,356,357,358,359,360,361 363,364,365,366,367,368,369,370,371,372,...492
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