Attend Spring Meetings on Development topics from Apr 17-21. Comment and engage with experts. Calendar of Events

Syndicate content

Hannah Arendt

Quote of the Week: Hannah Arendt

Sina Odugbemi's picture


“Man cannot live without prejudices, and not only because no human being’s intelligence or insight would suffice to form an original judgment about everything on which he is asked to pass judgment in the course of his life, but also because such a total lack of prejudice would require a superhuman alertness.”

- Hannah Arendt, The Promise of Politics

Quote of the Week: Hannah Arendt

Sina Odugbemi's picture


"Tyrannies are doomed because they destroy the togetherness of men: by isolating men from one another they seek to destroy human plurality.  They are based on the one fundamental experience in which I am altogether alone, which is to be helpless (as Epictetus once defined loneliness), unable to enlist the help of my fellow men."

- Hannah Arendt, The Promise of Politics.


The People versus the Leviathan

Sina Odugbemi's picture

 "Only fools, pure theorists, or apprentices fail to take public opinion into account."

Jacques Necker (1792) finance minister to King Louis XVI of France.

Recent events confirm, once again, that public opinion is the basis of power, and the very definition of legitimacy. If it comes to pass that the preponderance of the citizens of a country come to despise or hate their event that occurs over a period of time and is the outcome of  experiences, debate and discussion ... that crystallization of public opinion is a serious development, one capable of leading to momentous consequences. The regime in question becomes a hollow leviathan. One can only hope that autocratic leaders as well as the cynical technocrats who advise them are paying attention to the lessons of both recent and ongoing struggles between citizens and a variety of autocracies. 

Quote of the Week

Sina Odugbemi's picture

That all authority in the last analysis rests on opinion is never more forcefully demonstrated than when, suddenly and unexpectedly, a universal refusal to obey initiates what then turns into a revolution. To be sure, this moment – perhaps the most dramatic moment in history – opens the doors wide to demagogues of all sorts and colours, but what else does even revolutionary demagogy testify if not to the necessity of all regimes, old and new, ‘to rest on opinion’? Unlike human reason, human power is not only ‘timid and cautious when left alone’, it is simply non-existent unless it can rely on others; the most powerful king and the least scrupulous of all tyrants are helpless if no one obeys them, that is, supports them through obedience; for, in politics, obedience and support are the same.

- Hannah Arendt (1963) On Revolution (p. 228)