Chapter

A Discriminating Politics

Uday Mehta

in Thinking in Dark Times

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230754
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235858 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823230754.003.0004
A Discriminating Politics

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Terror and its cognates have come to signify the darkest excesses of contemporary and 20th-century political life. These include aggressive claims to purity; murderous manifestations of programmatic and religious self-certainty; paranoid and devastating responses to threats to national security; and more generally, an intensity of instrumental forms of thinking and acting that give to individuals, groups, and states a broad warrant for deploying violence as a means to their purposefulness. Hannah Arendt reflected deeply on the implications of such high-minded and bellicose purposefulness. This chapter focuses on how Arendt also associated terror with something utterly commonplace, whose reach and provenance extended well beyond the 20th century—namely, in the political attempt to address ubiquitous social questions.

Keywords: Hannah Arendt; terror; politics; violence

Chapter.  4891 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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