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Hannah Arendt Quotes


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Man's urge for change and his need for stability have always balanced and checked each other, and our current vocabulary, which distinguishes between two factions, the progressives and the conservatives, indicates a state of affairs in which this balance has been thrown out of order. No civilization - the man-made artifact to house successive generations - would ever have been possible without a framework of stability, to provide the wherein for the flux of change. Foremost among the stabilizing factors, more enduring than customs, manners and traditions, are the legal systems that regulate our life in the world and our daily affairs with each other.
 

No cause is left but the most ancient of all, the one, in fact, that from the beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics, the cause of freedom versus tyranny.
 

No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes. On the contrary, whatever the punishment, once a specific crime has appeared for the first time, its reappearance is more likely than its initial emergence could ever have been.
[Motivation]
 

Nothing we use or hear or touch can be expressed in words that equal what is given by the senses.
 

Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.
 

Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.
 

Our tradition of political thought had its definite beginning in the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. I believe it came to a no less definite end in the theories of Karl Marx.
 

Poets are the only people to whom love is not only a crucial, but an indispensable experience; which entitles them to mistake it for a universal one.
 

Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power's disappearance.
 

Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future, making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanly possible.
 

Revolutionaries do not make revolutions. The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and then they can pick it up.
 

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.
 

The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error.
 

The chief reason warfare is still with us is neither a secret death-wish of the human species, nor an irrepressible instinct of aggression, nor, finally and more plausibly, the serious economic and social dangers inherent in disarmament, but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.
 

The concentration camps, by making death itself anonymous (making it impossible to find out whether a prisoner is dead or alive), robbed death of its meaning as the end of a fulfilled life. In a sense they took away the individual's own death, proving that henceforth nothing belonged to him and he belonged to no one. His death merely set a seal on the fact that he had never existed.
 

The defiance of established authority, religious and secular, social and political, as a world-wide phenomenon may well one day be accounted the outstanding event of the last decade.
 

The earth is the very quintessence of the human condition.
 

The more dubious and uncertain an instrument violence has become in international relations, the more it has gained in reputation and appeal in domestic affairs, specifically in the matter of revolution.
 

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.
 

The new always happens against the overwhelming odds of statistical laws and their probability, which for all practical, everyday purposes amounts to certainty; the new therefore always appears in the guise of a miracle.
 


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