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Between War and PoliticsInternational Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt$
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Patricia Owens

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299362

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299362.001.0001

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Rage Against Hypocrisy: On Liberal Wars for Human Rights

Rage Against Hypocrisy: On Liberal Wars for Human Rights

(p.91) 6 Rage Against Hypocrisy: On Liberal Wars for Human Rights
Between War and Politics

Patricia Owens (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Arendt was wholly ambivalent about the liberal discourse of human rights and by extension, it is argued, wars justified in their name. She can be read as far less sanguine about the apparent progressiveness of human rights ideologies than other of her readers have suggested. This argument is made through an analysis of her writing on violence and hypocrisy. Arendt's work is filled with examples of violent rage against hypocrisy, but also how hypocrisy can enable cruelty. Above all, Arendt was a defender of the created, public world where it is only possible to judge words and actions, not motives. And yet Arendt does not leave us without grounds to act against genocide. These grounds are not based on the large numbers of dead, on levels of cruelty as such. Wars of annihilation cannot be tolerated because they attack the fundamental basis of all politics which is human plurality.

Keywords:   Arendt, human rights wars, violence, liberalism, hypocrisy, artificiality, public realm, genocide, plurality

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