Published as The Modern Challenge to Tradition: Fragmente eines Buchs,
edited by Barbara Hahn and James McFarland, with Ingo Kieslich and Ingeborg Nordmann, the book is reviewed by Geoffrey Wildanger in the Boston Review:
As in her conversation, Arendt’s writing on social concerns is often characterized by defensiveness, yet she does criticize capitalism. This volume is a boon to those interested in her idiosyncratic thought on economic matters, in particular her distance from both socialist and free market thinkers. According to his dialectical model of history, Marx thought capitalism would create its own gravediggers. Arendt doubts any such tendency to self-destruction, and thus she finds nothing dialectically redeemable about the violence of the marketplace. While a free market would totally colonize the space of political action, Arendt also argues that total expropriation is “hell.” The dogged pursuit of economic ends, whether the free market or redistribution, results in mass violence. That economic compulsion can only be challenged by politics, and politics can only be determined by individuals exercising judgment in public. The problem is that the means of ensuring the possibility of exercising judgment cannot be predetermined. The Modern Challenge to Tradition does not square this circle of political checks on economic pursuits so much as it dwells in the intractability of the problem.