This chapter of The Origins of Totalitarianism describes how millions of Europeans in the 20th century lost all semblance of human rights, and more so, how the concept of human rights became hollowed out. Stateless, rightless people are basically homeless people, except on a global scale; they are accepted no where and protected only by laws of exception, which typically proved ineffective. They have lost any identity beyond merely human; they have no nationality, no culture, no community to fall back on—and unfortunately for these people, the bare human is the most contemptible human.
Man: A Social or a A Political Animal
Last week, we saw the basic distinction between labor, work, and action. First, labor produces the necessities of life which are things to be consumed. Second, work produces lasting objects that make up the human world. Third, there is action, the words and deeds that make up the world of interactions between humans. All three human activities are conditioned by the fact that men live together, but only action cannot be imagined outside relations with others.
Here is the summary for Saturday, January 30th. Here is a printable copy.. If you have access to a printer, try and make your own copy, or bring a mobile device to read it on. We will meet here at 4:30.
Arendt distinguishes between three elements of human life. First, labor consists of the actions we take to stay alive. It produces things that are meant to be consumed or used up, such as food, tools, and clothing. Second, work produces lasting objects that build the human world. Work is what creates the environment for the third element of human life, action. Action is made of the words and deeds that reveal ourselves to one another.