Hannah Arendt was a pretty smart lady. She was a historian, political scientist , philosopher and most importantly an influential writer on the topics of totalitarianism and absolutism.
Essentially, she took Amendola’s idea of totalitarianism and took it to the next step. Her best known theory is the idea of the “banality of evil” which implies that the reason dictatorships prevail is not in entirety due to an evil vanguard pf people, but the willingness of of ordinary folk to follow evil.
So what she was saying is that the reason Stalinism and Nazism became possible was due to the fact that normal folk followed the ideas of evil men, which in turn made their agency a possibility. How could someone like Hitler and Stalinist gain power if they did not, to an extent, have the acceptance of the people?
Absolutism is accepted by a society. Unfortunately, it wasn’t accepted only due to incessant powerful forces at the top of the political hierarchy, but also do to the acceptance of common people who were ordinary and probably not evil, but became evil. It would be redundant therefore to suggest that everyone in Nazi Germany was an evil Nazi, when In turn it would be more fair to understand that a majority of the population were swept up by evil ideology and molded by it.
Arend’t first work, On The Origins of Totalitarianism, is a rather interesting analysis and study of the process by which dictatorships establish within societies, and how they seem to arise successively among generally good people. Moreover, Arendt influences quite passionately on why the Holocaust became a reality, as evidence to the socio-political forces of the 20th century.
This, in essence, is the “banality of evil”. Evil’s ability to be successful among ordinary people, due to the rise of evil doctrines at the right time.
In my opinion, Hannah Arendt is one of the most important intellectuals which occupied themselves with the study of power dynamics, which seems to affect everything from human nature to society.
Origins of Totalitarianism: http://archive.org/details/originsoftotalit00arenBiography: http://www.egs.edu/library/hannah-arendt/biography/