The article reexamines Hannah Arendt’s shift from “radical evil” in The Origins of Totalitarianism to “the banality of evil” in Eichmann in Jerusalem and subsequent writings. At the heart of this shift stands Arendt’s realization that she exaggerated the role of ideology in motivating ordinary people to become mass murderers. Instead, political conformity—namely, self-adjustment to the ruling political order simply because it is the ruling order—becomes Arendt’s main explanation for the participation of “ordinary people” in the Nazi mass murder. This shift in Arendt’s interpretation is truly radical, and its implications require further consideration and investigation.
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