.

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.

Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.

The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.

There is hardly a better way to avoid discussion than by releasing an argument from the control of the present and by saying that only the future will reveal its merits.

The Origins of Totalitarianism

Hannah Arendt (14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975) was a German-American philosopher and political theorist.

Her many books and articles on topics ranging from totalitarianism to epistemology have had a lasting influence on political theory.

Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century.

Arendt was born in Hanover, Germany but mostly raised in Königsberg in a secular merchant Jewish culture by parents who were politically progressive, being supporters of the Social Democrats.

Her father died when she was seven, so she was raised by her mother and grandfather.

After completing her secondary education, she studied at the University of Marburg under Martin Heidegger, with whom she had a brief affair, and who had a lasting influence on her thinking.

She obtained her doctorate in philosophy in 1929 at the University of Heidelberg with Karl Jaspers.

Her works cover a broad range of topics, but she is best known for those dealing with the nature of power and evil, as well as politics, direct democracy, authority, and totalitarianism.

In the popular mind she is best remembered for the controversy surrounding the trial of Adolf Eichmann, her attempt to explain how ordinary people become actors in totalitarian systems, which was considered by some an apologia, and for the phrase „the banality of evil“.