Karl Marx Dissertation
(German professors are traditionally required to write this second doctoral dissertation in order to receive a permanent post.) Her experience of anti-Semitism drove her to explicit political commitments, and she began to work with Zionist organizations conducting research on the dire state of Germany's Jews.
This work made her an enemy of the Nazis, forcing her into exile in 1933 in France.
As in her conversation, Arendt’s writing on social concerns is often characterized by defensiveness, yet she does criticize capitalism.
Like Marx, Arendt understands revolution to be the product of the disjuncture between modernity’s ideals of justice and equality and the realities of capitalism.
In our post-Occupy era, the starkness of Arendt’s dichotomy may strike us as exaggerated, yet she stuck to it.
Late in life, when her friend Mary Mc Carthy asked her why certain social matters could not simply be defined as rights (health care, say), she dodged the question.
Presenting texts (in both German and English) written between 19, it is a formidable task of intellectual historical reconstruction.
It fills in two lacunae in Arendt’s work: the intellectual labor connecting (1958), and the development of Arendt’s thought across the 1950s through a series of fragmented engagements with the writings of Marx and through polemics with American and German peers. Some of Arendt’s ideas on Marx are incorporated into volumes published during her lifetime, including The Human Condition, and others have since appeared in posthumous volumes edited by Jerome Kohn.