The Banality of Ideology

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Virginia Tech Publishing


For many thinkers, Hannah Arendt seems to exemplify the ultimate horizon for a contemporary leftist critique. Nonetheless, the recent film depiction of her is subject to an ideological incorporation with the function of reinforcing the (neo-)liberal ideologeme of the ultimate subject (the individual) by presenting its empty universalization as the immunization against any substantial evil. This fundamentally contradicts even Arendt’s own achievements and the implicit radicality of her analysis on the banality of evil. The systemic origin of evil that Arendt indicated in her work on Eichmann can be revealed with Horkheimer and Adorno’s analysis on anti-Semitism. Combined with an Althusserian position of a critique of ideology one can identify the systemic production of empty subjectivity that is at the heart of capitalism’s ideological reproduction and simultaneously the condition for a fascist (and totalized) system to emerge. In order not to fall back behind this essential insight, one must confront today’s ideological constellation with its own contradictions and, in respect to Hannah Arendt, unmask the ideological reduction of her to a similar empty subject that she was criticizing in her own analysis.




Struwe, A., 2014. The Banality of Ideology. Spectra, 3(2). DOI: