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Terms of the PoliticalCommunity, Immunity, Biopolitics$
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Roberto Esposito

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823242641

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823242641.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.100) Totalitarianism or Biopolitics: Toward a Philosophical Interpretation of the Twentieth Century
Source:
Terms of the Political
Author(s):
Roberto Esposito
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823242641.003.0010

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

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