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The Biopolitics of StalinismIdeology and Life in Soviet Socialism$
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Sergei Prozorov

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474410526

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474410526.001.0001

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Postcommunist Stalinism: The Resurrection of the Effective Manager

Postcommunist Stalinism: The Resurrection of the Effective Manager

(p.13) Chapter 1 Postcommunist Stalinism: The Resurrection of the Effective Manager
The Biopolitics of Stalinism

Sergei Prozorov

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 1 addresses the postcommunist ‘remnant’ of Stalinism, which survived the demise of the USSR and has been undergoing rehabilitation under Putin. We trace the logics of the two ‘destalinizations’ in the Soviet Union (1956-1964, 1985-1991) and argue that it was the confluence of these two logics that enabled the revival of Stalinism in the postcommunist period. While in the Khruschev Thaw Stalinism was denounced as a personal deviation from and betrayal of ‘true’ Leninism and ascribed to pathological features of Stalin’s personality, in the Gorbachev period the denunciation of Stalinism gradually embraced Communist ideology in its entirety, which was judged terrorist and criminal. If the logics of the two processes are superimposed on one another, Stalin appears as a traitor to a criminal system that deserved to be betrayed and hence as a positive figure, the saviour of Russia from the excesses of Bolshevism. Emerging in the fringes of the political discourse in the 1990s, this image was embraced during the Putin presidency, though Stalinism was no longer understood in terms of the synthesis of communism and nationalism, but rather in terms of the effective constitution and management of a new social reality. In this chapter we also address the paradoxical orientation of Putinism to the Stalinist past, concluding that in today’s Russia Stalinism in its biopolitical sense has become a quasi-transcendental condition of political discourse as such.

Keywords:   Stalinism, Postcommunism, Destalinization, Perestroika, Yeltsin, Boris, Putin, Vladimir, biopolitics

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