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By Maurizio Passerin d'Entrèves

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Politics was now no longer seen as the sphere where individuals could perform noble deeds, reach agreement on matters of mutual concern, and achieve a measure of justice; it became, instead, the instrument for checking and controlling men’s sinful nature, for punishing their evil conduct, and for looking after their earthly necessities. 66 What Platonism and Christianity achieved, then, was an elevation of the Hannah Arendt’s conception of modernity 43 values and concerns associated with the vita contemplativa and a corresponding denigration of those associated with the vita activa.

With her emphasis on the deleterious effects of subjectivity Arendt remains close to the concerns of those thinkers after Hegel (especially Nietzsche and Heidegger) who saw subjectivity as a problem to be overcome rather than as a solution to the dilemmas of modernity. Moreover, in focusing on the issue of institutional de-differentiation (the eclipse of the distinction between economy and polity, between private and public), she is addressing an issue similar to that which preoccupied Hegel and the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, who were the first to address the problems of institutional differentiation and reintegration.

It is the age of bureaucratic administration and anonymous labor, rather than politics and Hannah Arendt’s conception of modernity 29 action, and of the emergence of totalitarian forms of government based on the institutionalization of terror and violence. It is the age where history as a natural process has replaced history as a fabric of actions and events, where homogeneity and conformity have replaced plurality and freedom, and organized loneliness has replaced all spontaneous forms of human livingtogether.

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