Chapter

Totalitarianism or Biopolitics: Toward a Philosophical Interpretation of the Twentieth Century

in Terms of the Political

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242641
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242689 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823242641.003.0010
Totalitarianism or Biopolitics: Toward a Philosophical Interpretation of the Twentieth Century

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Chapter 9 argues that the two reigning hermeneutic paradigms of the twentieth century–totalitarianism (Stalinist communism and Nazism) and biopolitics–are often superimposed upon one another, or placed along a continuum according to which one leads necessarily to the other. Yet totalitarianism and biopolitics differ first and foremost on how they formulate the relationship between philosophy and history, and the way they consider how history is thought by and in philosophy. When considered from a biopolitical point of view, the twentieth century, and indeed the entire course of modernity, is determined not by the superficial and contradictory antithesis between totalitarianism and democracy but instead by the much deeper antithesis (because it has to do with the preservation of life) between history and nature, between the historicization of nature and the naturalization of history.

Keywords: Totalitarianism; Biopolitics; Democracy; History; Philosophy; Stalinist communism; Nazism; Liberalism

Chapter.  4724 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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