Back to Main List
Back to Book List

Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

Smuggling Stateless

The Origins of Totalitarianism

Hannah Arendt

1958

Link

2018-11-17

"It would seem that the very undeportability of the stateless person should have prevented a government's expelling him; but since the man without a state was an anomaly for whom there is no appropriate niche, in the framework of the general law an outlaw by definition, he was completely at the mercy of the police, which itself did not worry too much about committing a few illegal acts in order to diminish the country's burden of undesirables....[The state] smuggled its expelled stateless into the neighboring countries, with the result that the latter retaliated in kind....The consequences of this smuggling were petty wars between the police which did not exactly contribute to good international relations and an accumulation of jail sentences for the stateless, who, with the help of police, had passed illegally into the territory of another." - Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1958)

A refugee crisis following World War I was made worse by the existence of states, which one could not enter without the right paperwork, and if someone's original state didn't or couldn't claim that person, they would exist forever as an extra-legal entity.

Image Source