[Marxism] The Hannah Arendt industry | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 1 14:54:54 MST 2014

During the discussion period following the screening of Margarethe Von 
Trotta’s “Hannah Arendt” at the New School for Social Research, I took 
the mike to explain why Arendt’s theories were inadequate to explain 
genocide. If war crimes, up to and including ethnic cleansing or 
extermination, were spawned by totalitarianism, what do we make of 
Thomas Jefferson’s statement that if the American Indians got in the way 
of nation-building, they should be exterminated? For that matter, what 
does it say about the New School that its former President—Bob 
Kerrey—was a war criminal in Vietnam? (Around midnight on Feb. 25, 1969, 
Kerrey and his men killed at least 13 unarmed women and children.) At 
this point, Von Trotta and Jerome Kuhn—the head of the New School’s 
Hannah Arendt Center—began fidgeting in their seats and wearing frowns. 
Who was this asshole ruining their lovefest? But when I stated that if 
the USA ever lost a war the way that Hitler did, maybe the Samantha 
Powers of our world would find themselves in the defendant’s seat just 
like Eichmann, that was too much for them. They both started speaking 
over me at once. I caught Von Trotta saying that “this has nothing to do 
with my film” but of course it absolutely did.

Before the audience was allowed to offer comments, Kuhn spent a good 
fifteen minutes stroking the egos of the director, her leading actress 
Barbara Sukowa, and the screenwriter, one Pamela Katz. Von Trotta’s film 
has become part of a touring dog-and-pony show meant to convince 
audiences that Hannah Arendt is “one of the most influential 
philosophers of the 20th century”, as the New School website puts it.

Although I had high regard for Von Trotta’s film, especially for its 
fairly accurate portrayal of Heinrich Blucher (Mr. Hannah Arendt), who 
was my professor at Bard College as an undergrad, and Hans Jonas, her 
long-time friend and an ardent Zionist who was also my professor at the 
New School philosophy department, I was put off by her reply to a 
question posed by Kuhn as to why she made the film. She said that when 
she was younger and part of the German radical movement, it was 
understandable why she would make a film about Rosa Luxemburg but after 
the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it was Hannah Arendt who had much more 
to say about the state of the world—especially knowing what was really 
happening in the East.

full: http://louisproyect.org/2014/02/01/the-hannah-arendt-industry/

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