2 thoughts on “Arendt and Snowden

  1. I think there are two paragraphs that get a central point:

    In “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” one of the most poignant and important works of 20th-century philosophy, Hannah Arendt made an observation about what she called “the banality of evil.” One interpretation of this holds that it was not an observation about what a regular guy Adolph Eichmann seemed to be, but rather a statement about what happens when people play their “proper” roles within a system, following prescribed conduct with respect to that system, while remaining blind to the moral consequences of what the system was doing — or at least compartmentalizing and ignoring those consequences…

    Just as Hannah Arendt saw that the combined action of loyal managers can give rise to unspeakable systemic evil, so too generation W has seen that complicity within the surveillance state can give rise to evil as well — not the horrific evil that Eichmann’s bureaucratic efficiency brought us, but still an Orwellian future that must be avoided at all costs.

    I reluctantly say he missed, I think, something that challenges his argument. That is, if the consequences of the whistle blowing were as catastrophic as some conservatives are claiming they in fact were, perhaps we should look differently at what was d one. E.g., suppose the release enabled something like 9/11.

    I don’t know, though, and I hope others will pick up on some of the issues Ludlow raises.

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