chapter  3
26 Pages

The Common World

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt rejected a number of the ways that human rights were characterized throughout history. Analyzing the situation of refugees and minorities between the two world wars, she showed that we could no longer think of human rights as something that were natural and inalienable. Their experience demonstrated that the 18th century view that rights come from the “nature” of man, that they are valid even if only one person exists on earth, and that they are independent from plurality, was wrong. In other words, Arendt argued against the ideas that such rights were objectively real, had an independent life of their own, and were without need of outside authority to implement and protect them.