Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, Doing For The Sake Of Doing



(from Beverly Hills Stories)
Yet it is decisive that the experience of the eternal, in contradistinction to that of the immortal, has no correspondence with and cannot be transformed  into any activity whatsoever, since even the activity of thought, which goes on within one's self by means of words, is obviously  not only inadequate to render it but would interrupt and ruin the experience itself. -  Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

1.

- Why did you want me to read this passage?
- The experience of the eternal is what is lacking in how we live now. We live for doing. We make tools to make more tools.
- Maybe we like to live like this.
- It wouldn't be so bad except that we compete with each other in the making of things. A love for making things doesn't make us want to make things together.
- Why not?
- Because we don't see the good of it. We only value making things.
- But we could.
- Yes. We don't because power over things is extended to the desire for power over other people. Each tries to make his relation to others serve his own private interest in making things. We compete against each other.
- We become atomized, isolated, hostile.
- Yes. I wanted you to read that passage because it is wrong. The eternal can be expressed in action as a longing to return, but that requires seeing the world as a place not where you do for the sake of doing, but do, and learn how to do this as efficiently as possible, for the sake of not doing, for making a return to the eternal.* When you don't know how to get the eternal mixed up with your doing things you feel alone and futile, trapped in meaninglessly doing for the sake of doing, doing not for yourself and not for others either. But what if there was a way you could get the feeling of the eternal in life with others by doing what you are already doing, but doing it in common?
- I thought doing in common was blocked by the habit of seeing people as things to be made to serve your interest as maker of things?
- If you say to yourself, me and all the other doers for the sake of doing know what it means to do what we do. We have that in common, and with this common knowledge there is a task we can set ourselves in common that doesn't depend on anything else: the destruction of all that is in the world that hinders doing for the sake of doing. We respect our own individual natures and expand them at the same time.
- We recapitulate our own loss of individuality by destroying what's left of individuality in the world.
- We go over our own personal story, we enjoy the exercise of the power of doing, and we get a sense of the eternal in sympathy with our fellow doers for the sake of doing. Totalitarianism is the collective, bureaucratic task that destroys all those not in the group of fellow doers precisely because these holdouts still presume to do for the sake of not doing.

2.

- My turn, you guys. Look at this.
- What?
- The Billionaire Jew Soros, how he conspires to manipulate currencies and destroy the world's economy.
- He doesn't conspire. He is openly on record that the banking community of which he is a prominent part is knowingly destroying Europe and America's economic stability.
- How do you know?
- He wrote and published an article in The New York Review Of Books last year saying so. And I have briefly spoken with him several times.
- You?
- You think it is impossible, someone like me dumped here in the Beverly Hills lower depths? I asked him why not support the Occupy protest movement. He said he sympathized with the pain of the protestors, but changing the system when it is already stressed leads to greater disorder. His business is to predict the direction of market swings and profit by them, succeeding in this both in upturns and downturns, in fact helping the market go fast in the direction it is already going, even if this means destruction of the marketplace.
- What good does destruction do him?
- The weaker participants are destroyed. The surviving stronger monopolizing investors like himself buy up the devalued assets of the destroyed, then invest to bring on the upswing. Monopoly and concentration of wealth.
- Wikipedia says he gives away billions. Why does he do it if he is out to destroy the world?
- He is someone who makes money for the sake of making money, does things for the sake of doing things. Another time I talked with him...
- Ha.
- Don't believe me, see if I care. Another time I talked with Soros...
- Where?
- Budapest. Central European University, the school he founded and paid for. He'd given a lecture in which he said economists couldn't account for or control the economic system currently in operation. I asked him didn't he think it was time to start talking of looking at basic economic relations and asking which kind make people happy. He was silent, then answered that he included happiness as one factor in the calculation of investment for profit, a certain amount of happiness might be necessary to maximize the efficiency of the process. Everything for him was for the sake of doing, even happiness.
- He's evil.
- Hannah Arendt defined radical evil as behavior we can't forgive, and we can't forgive what we can't punish, and we can't forgive and punish what we can't love. To me, Soros is a case of doing for the sake of doing kept going by the imagination that he is part of a mass movement of doing for the sake of doing. He imagines that he with faceless and countless others is working together to convert all the hold outs, the remnant of those living for happiness, not doing for the sake of doing. He gives away away billions to causes that help people enter the system of doing for the sake of doing, as another form of investment. The poor protesters in the occupy movement have to be helped too, but unfortunately they make the mistake of challenging the movement he belongs to of doers for the sake of doing.
- The revolution will come, and sweep away evil people like him.
- Well, to be honest, when I talked to him, when I looked him in the eyes I saw a madman. But I felt pity for him. I found myself tapping him on the shoulder even. It is possible, for me at least, to pity, to imagine reformation, punishment and forgiveness, of someone who can imagine human community but only find it in the collective mad destruction of human nature.
- You said three times. What was the third time you talked with Soros?
- I asked him for a job.
- What did he say?
- He's busy.**

* My Wife Who Throws Me Out
** The Billionaire

read more: The People We Like To Call Evil