Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1991

Publication Title

Review of Politics








Foundation is a crucial concept in Hannah Arendt's work. She was especially interested in modern attempts, successful and unsuccessful, to found new bodies politic. Arendt maintained, however, that totalitarian movements were hostile to the project of foundation. Far from seeking to stabilize the world, totalitarianism set the world in motion and tried to keep it moving. But when we turn to National Socialist ideology itself we discover that foundation was vital to the Nazi project; Hitler understood himself as the founder of his people. Arendt's own interpretation of Nazism is mistaken, but I believe that her general theory of foundation can help us to make sense of the National Socialist experience. This article examines the project of foundation in Hitler's Weltanschauung and redeploys Arendt's concepts to explain his unsuccessful attempt to create a new body politic.


Author Posting. © University of Notre Dame, 1991. This article is posted here by permission of the University of Notre Dame for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in The Review of Politics, Volume 53, Issue 3, 1991,

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.