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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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High Stalinism: Retreat, Simulacrum, Terror

High Stalinism: Retreat, Simulacrum, Terror

(p.127) Chapter 4 High Stalinism: Retreat, Simulacrum, Terror
The Biopolitics of Stalinism

Sergei Prozorov

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 4 addresses the aftermath of the Great Break known as the period of High Stalinism. This period was marked by the tempering of the apocalyptic pace of the Great Break, which we analyse in terms of the three negative inflections of its rationality. Firstly, the period was marked by a series of policy reversals that have come to be known as the Great Retreat: the rehabilitation of pre-revolutionary Russian history, the shift towards a pro-natalist family policy, the reaffirmation of hierarchy and discipline in schools and factories, the revival of conspicuous consumption, etc. Secondly, the aftermath of the Great Break was marked by the introduction of the official artistic canon, known as socialist realism, which authorised the representation of Soviet reality ‘in its revolutionary development’, as if socialism were already attained. Finally, the mid-1930s were the period of the gradual unleashing of the Great Terror that peaked in 1937-1938. While the violence of the Great Break was subordinated to the positive biopolitical project of constructing socialism, the Terror of the 1930s had no positive content: rather than exemplify the forcing of ideal into the real, the compromise with it or its derealization, the Terror was pure negation of the real and marked the transformation of biopolitics into thanatopolitics.

Keywords:   Great Retreat, Socialist Realism, Great Terror, Biopolitics, Thanatopolitics

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