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So that [the] “revolutionary” spirit could survive the actual end of the revolution’ (OR, 117). The founding act of ‘constitution’ created a political space within which citizens could meet – as citizens – on equal terms. It was their freedom to do so – their ‘right of access to the public realm’ – that made possible such a thing as ‘public happiness’: ‘men knew they could not be altogether “happy” if their happiness was located and enjoyed only in private life’ (OR, 118). This notion of ‘public happiness’ lies at the heart of friendship as conceived and practised by Arendt.

She feared the potential for ‘elective despotism’ within representative democracy and warned against the democratic procedures of majority decision-making degenerating into ‘the “elective despotism” of majority rule’ (OR, 156).

In her reply to Scholem, she said (as quoted at the head of this chapter) that she had never in her life ‘loved’ what she called ‘any people or collective’, but only her friends: ‘[T]he “only” kind of love I know of and believe in is the love of persons’ (JW, 466–7). But as far as Scholem was concerned, the charge of Ahabath Israel disqualified Arendt from any worthwhile insights into either the Holocaust or the Zionist vision. From his standpoint Arendt was henceforth an irrelevance. A handful of letters followed, but the friendship had ended (Arendt and Scholem, 2010).

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