Prologue
We can no longer afford to take that which was good in the past and simp
it our heritage, to discard the bad and simply think of it as a dead load wh
itself time will bury in oblivion. The subterranean stream of Western histo
finally come to the surface.—hannah arendt, The Origins of Totalitaria
Ping
uzzling over the rise of fascism, Hannah Arendt sea
foraprecedentinWesternhistory—aformofgovernmentsup
worldwide dominance by a would-be master race—that
haveeasedthewayforcivilizedpeoplestoembracebarbarity.Shefo
intheglobalimperialismofthenineteenthcentury,whennorthern
pean nations like England were putting the machinery in place t
their colonies around the globe. That machinery included an org
tion for absolute political control and an ideology of social super
Imperial powers governed their colonies as despotic bureaucrats, a
Arendt, and racial ideologies turned mere bureaucrats into member
superiorcaste.Herfearwasthis:intertwined,‘‘racethinking’’andbu
craticrulecouldunleash‘‘extraordinarypoweranddestruction,’’ade
tion all the more terrible since it was bathed in an aura of rationalit
civilization.
Colonialism’s governing principles, however, were not launch
nineteenth-century imperialism. That honor goes to Europe’s first
ofcolonialexpansion,spearheadednotbynorthernEuropebutbyP
gal and Spain. From the sixteenth century through the mid-sevente
Spain was in the vanguard of the modern world, installing cutting
bureaucracies along with templates for race thinking in its colonie
ting the globe.This book is rooted in Arendt’s insights but applies
to the Spanish empire and its workings in the Viceroyalty of Peru.
take the first wave of empire as the origin of the ‘‘subterranean stre
g
2004.8.17
06:39
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Silverblatt
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MODERN
INQUISITIONS
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