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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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A Real Renewal of Life: Towards an Affirmative Biopolitics

A Real Renewal of Life: Towards an Affirmative Biopolitics

(p.254) Chapter 7 A Real Renewal of Life: Towards an Affirmative Biopolitics
The Biopolitics of Stalinism

Sergei Prozorov

Edinburgh University Press

In Chapter 7 we shall outline the theoretical implications of our study of Stalinism for the contemporary debates on affirmative biopolitics in philosophy and social sciences. Our inquiry into Stalinism demonstrates that the negative conversion of biopolitics into thanatopolitics has to do not merely with the ideological content to be translated into life but primarily with the manner of its translation. To rethink biopolitics affirmatively is thus to rethink the relation between life and idea otherwise than in terms of forcing the latter into the former. Drawing on Michel Henry’s material phenomenology of life, we develop an affirmative account of biopolitics based on the concept of captivation. While forcing an idea into life can only produce negative thanatopolitical effects, ideas may acquire a tentative and open-ended vitality in the lives that are captivated by them. We conclude with the discussion of the implications of this approach to biopolitics for rethinking the phenomenon of Stalinism.

Keywords:   affirmative biopolitics, Henry, Michel, Meillassoux, Quentin, Agamben, Giorgio, material phenomenology, captivation

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