Smart Jews

The Jewish impact on American intellectual culture.

Print this page Print this page

At the same time, Arendt conscientiously immersed herself in public activities, becoming a dependable participant at annual meet­ings of the American Political Science Association and a vigorous polemicist in political controversies. The passion of near-visceral "in­volvement" doubtless bespoke her awareness that the detachment of intellectuals had abetted the collapse of democracy in Europe.

And meanwhile, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Arendt continued to pro­duce an astonishing number of books and articles. Her 1958 volume The Human Condition, a trenchant refutation of Marxist social thought, evoked as much admiration among conservatives as The Ori­gins of Totalitarianism had among liberals. She wrote on political theory, revolution, violence, education, civil disobedience. No issue in society was alien to her. Tough and unsentimental through every vicissitude and reward, Arendt became the paradigm of Jewish intel­lectualism, of European Jewry's supreme cultural gift to the New World--the deprovincialization of the American mind.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Howard Sachar

Howard M. Sachar is the author of numerous books, including A History of Israel, A History of the Jews in America, Farewell Espana, Israel and Europe, and A History of Jews in the Modern World. He is also the editor of the 39-volume The Rise of Israel: A Documentary History. He serves as Professor of Modern History at George Washington University.