, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 36–40 | Cite as

Hannah Arendt and American Loneliness

  • Richard H. KingEmail author
50th Anniversary Issue: Past, Present, Future

It should come as no surprise that Hannah Arendt was always ambivalent about America. In an early post-war letter to her mentor Karl Jaspers, Arendt reflected on life in America. One thing that stood out was “the fundamental anti-intellectualism (Ungeistigkeit) of the country,” not the first or last time she would sound the anti-intellectualism theme. In fact, Arendt assumed that to be an intellectual was by definition to be “in opposition” to the “social conformity” that permeated life in the New World. Yet, she praised the commitment to “freedom” in the United States and noted the way that ethnic pluralism helped protect dissenting opinion. She was also impressed (as Alexis de Tocqueville had been in the 1830s) with the way that Americans “felt responsible for public life in a way that I know of in no European country.” Overall, her verdict was that the “fundamental contradiction of the country” lies in the co-existence of “political freedom”(politische Freiheit) with “social...


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Further Reading

  1. Arendt. 1950. The Origins of Totalitarianism (2nd ed., p. 473). Cleveland: Meridian Books.Google Scholar
  2. Kazin, A. 1978. New York Jew (pp. 195–196). New York: Alfred Knopf. Arendt referred to “meine Art Melancholie” in Hannah Arendt:Ein Portrait, 2/7, 20 secs.Google Scholar
  3. Kazin, A. 1995. When Writing was in Vogue (pp. 112–114). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Miller, P. 1952. Errand into the Wilderness (p. 15). New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1956.Google Scholar
  5. Riesman, D. 1954. The Ethics of We Happy Few,” Individualism Reconsidered (p. 38). Garden City: Doubleday Anchor.Google Scholar
  6. Riesman, “Foreword: Ten Years Later”. 1960. The Lonely Crowd, (xix–xx). New Haven and London, Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NottinghamUniversity ParkNottinghamUK

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