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A Defense of Hannah Arendt's "Reflections on Little Rock"


In this paper, I will attempt a defense of Hannah Arendt's usage of the social/political distinction in her "Reflections on Little Rock," demonstrating that not only is it tenable but also helpful. After distinguishing between her (in)famous distinction between the social and political spheres, I will use the notions of "power," which is compatible with political freedom, and "force," which is not, to analyze the strategy of governmentally enforced integration. What I hope to show is that although schools are of the utmost political importance, governmental force cannot solve social prejudice, and it cannot legitimately be used outside of the sphere of establishing and protecting legal equality. I will further elucidate Arendt's illustrative passage on how an integration effort might politically engage problems of exclusion and inequality in schools without having to resort to force to solve social problems and without reducing politics to instrumental administration.

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