Resistance in Arendt: Between Politics and Ethics

Odilio Alves Aguilar
2012
We are going to approach the theme of resistance by linking it with Hannah Arendt's categories of action, judging and willing. The starting point is our conviction that Arendt was correct when she stated that contemporary societies have a protototalitarian trend. She said at the end of Origins of Totalitarianism: "It may even be that the true predicaments of our time will assume their authentic form-though not necessarily the cruelest-only when totalitarianism has become a thing of the past"
more » ... 460). The national and international happenings of recent days indicate how true the arendtian prognosis is. The tendential growth of violence in today's world generates a flow-a kind of trancewhich corrodes the traditional forms of civility attained by the western world: political power, legality, the world of work and culture. The usual forms of organization do not seem to be sufficient to set aside ghostliness and the propensity to the discardability of human beings in the current ways of sociability. There is even said to be a unique trend, and thus any opposite position inside the dominant socioeconomic and cultural system is unfeasible. In this context we find it important to return the discussion about resistance. The theme of resistance as a political possibility and an instance of legitimatization of power arises in modern political philosophy. Before that we experience tyrannies, empires and absolute governments anchored in the divine right or in the prevalent order so as to demand unconditional obedience of citizens. Naturalism-the idea that there exists an unchangeable, teleologically determined, order of the universe, and that everything is organized in function of such an order-was present in philosophical thought until Middle Ages and then made unpracticable the philosophic reflection capable of supporting the position that defends political resistance. Indeed the first time one finds the defense of legitimacy of resistance is in Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica. However such a defense respects the order prevalence entirely, since resistance is never legitimate unless it can happen without scandals as well as let the community free of even worse damages than tyranny. Saint Thomas reaches the limit of Saint Paul's precept disseminated by Church and taken over by him according to which every power comes from God and must be exercised and obeyed in his name. The modern turn--the change from cosmocentric naturalism to anthropocentrismgives man the role of subject and then makes it possible that resistance arises as a legitimate political institute. The idea of protection of citizens against tyrants and of the
doi:10.57773/hanet.v1i1.68 fatcat:fvxtlg6dura2bk4xthy73fir24