Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers Term Paper
- Length: 6 pages
- Sources: 5
- Subject: Government
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #43226573
Excerpt from Term Paper :
In this respect, he fervently opposed all tendencies towards technocratic governance, which he identified both in the Communist bloc in Eastern Europe, and in the rapidly expanding welfare state of the Federal Republic under Adenauer. Technocracy, he asserted, is the objective form of the instrumental tendencies in human reason, and if it is not counterbalanced by the integrally human resources of cultural or rational communication it is likely to result in oppressive government. In this respect, he moved close to quite standard variants on political liberalism, and he endorsed limited government, relative cultural and economic freedom, and protection for society from unaccountable political direction. Fourth, he also argued that a human polity requires a constitutional apparatus, enshrining basic rights, imposing moral-legal order on the operations of the state, and restricting the prerogative powers of the political apparatus. Like Kant, therefore, he advocated the institution of an international federation of states, with shared constitutions, laws and international courts. Fifth, however, he also retained aspects of the elite-democratic outlook which he had first inherited from Weber, and he continued to argue that the human polity must be supported and guided by reasonable persons or responsible elites. ("Karl Jaspers")
The administration itself, with the golf-playing president at its head, is as helpless as you have no doubt gathered it is from the papers. It is a government of big business whose sole concern is to make big business bigger. That doesn't necessarily mean a depression, but it probably does mean the liquidation of small, independent businesses. This is an extremely important point. The really healthy thing about the development of the economy here was that even under the stress of war production major government contracts were awarded to small and medium-sized industries in spite of their higher costs. That has come to an end completely, and the power of the trusts grows every day. The danger in this isn't so much the increasing power of the big concerns (that power is quite effectively controlled and held in check by the very real power of unions and by the fact that all the big companies are ultimately dependent on government contracts) but, rather, that the small independent man is disappearing as a political factor. In other words, this administration is making this society day by day into more of what it already is anyway: a society of jobholders. And by doing so, it plays directly into McCarthy's hands, because the blame for this total lack of resistance in the society can be laid squarely at the door of these jobholders. And in all this, prosperity, in which everyone has unlimited opportunity and is therefore obliged to get ahead because everyone is getting richer by the minute, plays exactly the same role here that unemployment played in Germany. Six of one, half a dozen of the other ("A Letter from Hannah Arendt to Karl Jaspers").
After the traumas of National Socialism and the war, however, it is fair to say that Jaspers' political philosophy never moved finally beyond a sceptical attitude towards pure democracy, and his political writings never fully renounced the sense that German society was not sufficiently evolved to support a democracy, and Germans required education and guidance for democracy to take hold. Even in his last writings of the 1960s, in which he declared tentative support for the activities of the student movement around 1968, there remain traces of elite-democratic sympathy. For all his importance in modern German politics, therefore, his philosophy of politics was always slightly anachronistic, and his position remained embedded in the personalistic ideals of statehood which characterized the old-liberal political culture of Imperial Germany and persisted in the conservative-liberal fringes of the Weimar Republic ("Karl Jaspers")
The real disastrous consequence is that lawlessness continues to spread. Everything that is going on is taking place outside the law. First and foremost is the fact that the Communist party is not prohibited by law. That is disastrous -- and a kind of trap in itself. (Anyone who advocates forbidding it will be told that he is "anti-democratic.") the CP is not forbidden, but anyone who belongs to it will not be able to get a job, will be defamed, etc. The only person who has understood this is George Shuster, the president of Hunter College in New York. If the party were forbidden, then there would be no more equivocation about it: anyone who belonged to the party now would be violating the law. But what he did in the past would be nobody's business -- provided the law was not made retroactive. And there are some charming examples of retroactivity. Not in the laws themselves, but in the administration ("A Letter from Hannah Arendt to Karl Jaspers").
Just about anything is possible here at the moment, among other reasons because neither free speech nor a free press are de facto prohibited. It is not the case either that one cannot publish. On the contrary. For the time being, we are not isolated in the least, perhaps less so than ever. I've taken potshots at the whole mob and haven't suffered in the least for it. Perhaps a few of my friends, very good journalists, will be able to start up a magazine that will not content itself with pious protests couched in general terms (that kind of protest is common here but doesn't mean a thing), but will report in detail what is really going on in this country. What is typical in this situation is that one can very well express one's "opinion," but editors will as a rule refuse to publish straight facts and reports. So everything happens half in the dark. And that in a country where people give credence only to facts and can be convinced only by facts ("A Letter from Hannah Arendt to Karl Jaspers").
Foucault in fact makes such a charge in his history of the prison, which he declares is intended to "produce," denigrate, and utilize a "criminal class," which is its target: "that, this being the case, it would be hypocritical or na "ve to believe that the law was made for all in the name of all; that it would be more prudent to recognize that it was made for the few and brought to bear upon others..." (1977, 276).
The systems of discipline," he says elsewhere, "are applied by one group upon another" (1991, 167). It is interesting to note that, unlike in Nietzsche, the liberal proposition that There is thus clearly more to his project than simply to "undermine modernity and its language games," and there is more to the justification for resisting power than simply being its mirror image" (Habermas 1987, 283).
This was all evident with the Rockefeller Foundation, but never to such a degree, because such vast sums were not involved there. Culture simply can't make use of so many millions. It suffocates under the weight of them. This new generation, whose company I had the opportunity to enjoy at the last political science convention, is undermining "morale" at the universities. And the foundations are not "free" either. I have heard from a reliable source that McCarthy let the Ford Foundation know that he would find ways to sabotage sales of Ford cars if the foundation stuck by its decision to give 15 million for the study of civil rights. (Nothing would come of it anyhow, unless some people should suddenly and unexpectedly get together and decide to offer some determined resistance. That's always a possibility.) ("A Letter from Hannah Arendt to Karl Jaspers").