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Hannah Arendt, National Socialism and the Project of Foundation

Robert Mayer
The Review of Politics
Vol. 53, No. 3 (Summer, 1991), pp. 469-487
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1407859
Page Count: 19
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Hannah Arendt, National Socialism and the Project of Foundation
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Abstract

Foundation is a crucial concept in Hannah Arendt's work. She was especially interested in modern attempts, successful and unsuccessful, to found new bodies politic. Arendt maintained, however, that totalitarian movements were hostile to the project of foundation. Far from seeking to stabilize the world, totalitarianism set the world in motion and tried to keep it moving. But when we turn to National Socialist ideology itself we discover that foundation was vital to the Nazi project; Hitler understood himself as the founder of his people. Arendt's own interpretation of Nazism is mistaken, but I believe that her general theory of foundation can help us to make sense of the National Socialist experience. This article examines the project of foundation in Hitler's "Weltanschauung" and redeploys Arendt's concepts to explain his unsuccessful attempt to create a new body politic.

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