Both are next to each other in the NY Times. First by Adam Kirsch and the second by Rivka Galchen. As good as Kirsch's short essay was, Galchen's is even more insightful.
Read them here
I have long been confused and dismayed by the attacks on Arendt and her book. For if one reads it, one sees her conclusions flow from what Eichmann said in his so-called "defense" and how he appeared during his trial. Her conclusions were not something she concocted out of thin air or trying to be contrarian. She was very earnest and really trying to get at the heart of how Germany could have succumbed to the murderous madness of the Nazi era. As the two writers reveal, Arendt's critique was deeply contemptuous of Eichmann as an ultimately banal man who undertook monstrous mass murder as if he was someone working at an ad agency selling soap. The attacks on Arendt as soft on Nazism because she at one time was a lover of Martin Heidegger
while they attended college together studying philosophy is a by now classic style of argument that prevails among the middlebrow elite who inhabit corporate media. It is a style of argument that nastily trivializes the person attacked and exults in a superficiality that poses as something deeply counterintuitive or profound. It is what happens when one subscribes too strongly to "the personal is the political."
I've just completed reading Victor Serge's "Witness to the German Revolution,"
which is not as much a book as an astute compilation of a series of newspaper articles Serge wrote for Comintern supported newspapers and journals in 1922 and 1923 while he was in Germany as a pro-Bolshevik. The articles reveal how close Germany came to a Communist revolution, reveal the rise of Hitler and how major business leaders were preparing the German people for anti-Semitism as a policy to divert attention from Communist or Socialist economic remedies. Serge saw and wrote about how Hitler and other Nazi supporters consciously used the word "socialism" in the Nazi party's name ("National Socialist") to confuse and divert, but even Serge could not believe at that time that the Nazis would succeed in the way they ultimately did.