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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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The Great Break: Making Socialism Real

The Great Break: Making Socialism Real

(p.71) Chapter 3 The Great Break: Making Socialism Real
The Biopolitics of Stalinism

Sergei Prozorov

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 3 focuses on the emergence of the biopolitical project of Stalinism in the late 1920s as a result of the problematization of the distance between the ideological and institutional hegemony of the Bolshevik Party and the underdeveloped, agrarian, capitalist society that it governed. Stalinism ventured to bridge this gap by producing socialism as a lived reality in the revolutionary project known as the Great Break, comprising collectivization, industrialization and the Cultural Revolution. The emphasis on the construction of socialism rendered Soviet biopolitics radically anti-naturalist, in contrast to the immunitary or katechontic logic of Western biopolitics that seeks to protect existing forms of life rather than bring new ones into being. We demonstrate that the paroxysmal violence of the Great Break owed precisely to this anti-naturalist disposition, which devalued existing forms of life as obsolete, paving the way for their negation and even annihilation. While this logic of biopolitics is evidently heterogeneous to Western biopolitical rationalities, it is not without precedent in the Russian cultural context. We shall briefly address its genealogical precedents in the philosophy of Russian Cosmism, particularly Nikolai Fedorov, and the biopolitical experiments of Alexander Bogdanov during the 1920s.

Keywords:   Stalinism, biopolitics, collectivization, industrialization, Cultural Revolution, apocalypticism

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