- 経済社会学会年報 (ISSN:09183116)
- vol.40, pp.68-78, 2018 (Released:2021-04-01)
Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem is famous for the concept of the banality of evil and thoughtlessness. This book is said to be the turning point that redirected Arendt's interest from Vita Activa to The Life of the Mind and has been primarily studied from the perspective of thinking and judgement. However, this paper examines the book differently, perceiving Eichmann as a Laborer. Arendt argued that totalitarianism was supported by animal laborance (laboring animal), appearing when labor became the primary activity in modern society. Eichmann was also a diligent laborer who obeyed the orders of superiors without employing his own thinking and judgement. Eichmann's case can be analyzed from the perspective of labor, connecting it with her discussion of The Human Condition (Vita Activa).
However, it is incorrect to state that Eichmann consistently engaged in animal laborance since he joined the Nazis. Between 1933 and 1941, Eichmann made every effort to accomplish the Jewish emigration project to Jerusalem. During this period, he engaged in work rather than labor in Arendt's terms because he assumed the role of an emigration expert possessing superior ability and exceptional skill. He formulated an elaborate plan, negotiated with the numerous persons concerned, and put it into practice. However, when Hitler issued the order to commit Jewish atrocities in 1941, the emigration plan was suspended. Eichmann despaired and lost his joy in work, initiatives, and interests. From this point, he turned into animal laborance, blindly following the totalitarian movement.
In conclusion, we should discontinue the enlargement of the realm of labor and retrieve the realm of work and activity in order to prevent the appearance of totalitarianism. We require both action and work for public reconstruction in order to resist totalitarianism.