A note on Hannah Arendt and collective responsibility

A note on Hannah Arendt and collective responsibility

A note on Hannah Arendt and collective responsibility

Arendt explains that, in her youth, no teacher was interested in any kind of moral training

Hannah Arendt. / Image: Flickr. Author: Levan Ramishvili

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Andreu Navarra


Those of us who think that competency-based educational reforms are a class attack, that is, a device of bureaucratic dominance and social control that emocapitalism has used to dismantle social democracy. That is, that they are an immoral framework and, ultimately, an abstract crime, a kind of indirect murder through the suppression of thousands of personal futures. We have to face the problem of who is responsible for all this devastation.

In a 1964 text, “Personal Responsibility under a Dictatorship”, Hannah Arendt had to come to the rescue of her work on nazi murderer Eichmann in order to defend herself from all kinds of fake news that had been propagated by pseudomoralists and third rate journalists who had not read her book. Arendt has three hypotheses about the horror that was unleashed between 1933 and 1945: A problem arose if it was accepted that the German nation was guilty: the innocent or the less involved recognized their guilt, a phantom guilt, but the murderers got off scot-free; the second hypothesis: only Hitler and his closest circle were guilty, since the rest of the units and citizens “only obeyed orders” or tried to survive; thirdly, Arendt affirms that there must exist a space for personal moral effort, a rational discipline or judgement that prevents us from joining the orgies of evil. In this case, Eichmann had alternatives and could have acted differently than he did.

It is evident that Arendt was examining a subject that bordered on the final horror. Nowadays we are once again living in extreme and inexplicable horror: the massacre of Bucha is not exactly far away, and the attacks and bombings carried out by Hamas and the Israeli government remind us that we are not safe from the ideas of frenzied destruction, revenge and genocide that presided over the first half of the 20th century. If we return to the matter at hand (Who orders or triggers the massive re-feudalization of Europe, and who turns Digital Solutionism into a mandatory and unquestioned ideology?) we realize that the destruction of Western educational systems and the rebirth of devices that invite aggression are related.

Arendt also points it out. She explains that, in her youth, no teacher was interested in any kind of moral training. A true inertia guaranteed that patriotism and the death drive were acceptable things in themselves. Something similar is happening in our country and those around it: a process prior to the outbreak of symbolic violence and political aggression is the abandonment of our public duties towards our youth.

I also think that some political figures are responsible for this criminal process of degradation of public services. We cannot continue with empty gestures that lead to inaction and acceptance of inaction that leads to the abandonment of all ethics, to self-colonialism. Expressions like: “we are all responsible” or “put the blame on Europe”, or the most infamous of all: “The future is already here” are symptomatic of a conformist civil state to the point of nausea and certainly dangerous. Capitalist Realism has degraded under the form of Digital Solutionism, fraudulent substitute of the Welfare State, and in the face of this, we must think again independently. It is necessary to deactivate extreme party politics to prevent the triumph of a miseducation that could make possible, once again, any social nightmare implanted by laziness and lack of reflection.

We all know where competency reforms come from: from the throes of McCarthyism, from the confusion between progressivism and neoliberal bureaucratism, and from the Lisbon Summit in 2000. We know that they rescue hidden forms of social determinism and pedagogical conductivism. But who had the chance to do something and chose to look the other way? Who denies the real classroom situations and continue to promote immoral libidinal propaganda? Politics that has become only a promotion of itself prefigures a near antidemocratic future. All these confusions and sleights of hand will be paid by our students in the form of cancelled futures and mental health destroyed by precarity, if we do not point out those responsible and build a neo-human educational alternative as a first step to redefine our workplace cultures. An unavoidable first step would be to enable spaces free from addictive consumption, inside schools. The educational system should become an initial sanctuary where the relationships typical of the company and the capitalization of the mind and body reduced to data do not occur. A place to disconnect in order to reconnect with reflective habits. The school understood as a force of standardizing biopower should not perpetuate itself among us, because it is a source of anxieties, frustrations and pathological individual isolation. It is designed to subdue through the degradation of mental health.

We are designing with astounding complicity a school that is announced as a libertarian and anarcho-capitalist solution, but that will be nothing more than a recreational prison, heavily bureaucratized and techno-surveilled, a repository of human beings standardized by force, a Zone apart from the spectrum of cameras, dedicated to the exile of literate culture, unacceptable from any sensible point of view.

Source: educational EVIDENCE

Rights: Creative Commons

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