The Social and the Political
Arendt’s separation between “the social” and “the political” has been a major concern for many commentators, both in terms of the plausibility of her distinctions and of the relevance of her political thought to democratic politics. While agreeing with most commentators on the many problems that ensue from Arendt’s exclusion of socio-economic questions from political discourse, this chapter argues that it should not be interpreted as reflecting a lack of concern for social justice on Arendt’s part, as commentators often take it to be. It demonstrates that from early on in her writings, Arendt saw social justice as a pre-condition for broad civic engagement, and supported measures that would guarantee it for as many citizens as possible. Further discussed is the problem of the content of political discussion in the public sphere. This discussion seeks to show that the common contention that Arendtian politics is a “purified” one, devoid of actual content—is largely a myth.