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20세기를 해석하기 : 전체주의인가 생명정치인가?

Interpreting the 20th century: totalitarianism or biopolitics?

Text Roberto Esposito Philospher

20th C 3

© Prisma

02th C 2

© Prisma

인간의 생명은 공적인 것과 사적인 것, 자연적인 것과 인위적인 것, 신학적인 것과 정치적인 것을 뒤얽어버리며, 다수성의 어떠한 결정도 끄를 수 없는 방식으로 이것들을 칭칭 동여맨다. 권력 메커니즘에서 생명의 반란은 민주주의의 쇠퇴의 신호탄이며, 적어도 우리가 지금껏 상상했던 민주주의의 그런 형태의 쇠퇴의 신호탄이다.
Human life interweaves the public with the private, the natural with the artificial, the theological with the political, binding them together in such a way that no decision of the majority can undo. The insurrection of life in the mechanisms of power signals the eclipse of democracy, at least of that form of democracy we had imagined up until now.

1. 20세기에 관한 정치적 해석을 향하여. '해석하다'란 무슨 뜻인가? 우리는 이 말에 어떤 유의미성을 부여해야 하는가? 두 개의 상이한 방식, 그리고 어떤 의미에서는 서로 대립된 방식으로 답변할 수 있다. 첫 번째는 고전적 해법이다. 즉 이것은 철학 자체가 제공한 해석적 열쇠와 일치하여 역사적 사실을 독해하는 것으로 이뤄진다. 이것이 20세기의 위대한 철학자들의 실천이었다. 가장 기념비적인 사람들만 이름을 꼽아도 후설, 하이데거, 사르트르 등이 있다. 이것은 역사의 본질을 이해하는 유일한 방식으로 간주되어 왔다. 즉, 이것을 후설은 유럽 학문의 위기와 동일시했고, 하이데거는 니힐리즘의 전개와 동일시했으며, 사르트르는 억압된 인민의 해방과 동일시했다.
1. Towards a political interpretation of the 20th century. What does ‘interpret' mean? What significance should we give it? It is possible to respond in two different, and in some sense opposed ways. The first is the classical solution: this consists of reading historical facts in accordance with an interpretative key provided by philosophy itself. Such was the practice of the great philosophers of the 20th century, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, to name only the most celebrated. This was considered to be the only way to understand the essence of history: that which Husserl identified with the crisis of European science, Heidegger with the development of Nihilism and Sartre with the liberation of the oppressed peoples.

어떤 경우든 20세기는 이것에 어떤 의미를 부여하기 위해서, 사건들이 단 하나의 방향으로 전개한 그러한 방식으로 사건들의 순서를 나열하기 위해서 이미 결정된 어떤 철학의 내적 요구에 따라 해석되었다. 그러므로 철학과 역사 사이에 외적인, 그리고 어떤 의미에서는 부과적인 관계가 수립되었다. 철학이 없었더라면 무의미하게 보였을 수도 있는 일련의 사건들에 대해 오로지 철학만이 전반적인 유의미성을 부여할 수 있는 유능한 것으로 치부되었다.
      In any case, the 20th century was interpreted according to the internal demands of a philosophy that was determined to confer on it a sense, and to order events in such a way that they advanced in a single direction. Thus, between philosophy and history an external, and in some sense impositional, relationship was established. Only philosophy was deemed competent to attribute an overall significance to a series of events that would otherwise appear meaningless.

획기적인 분석을 산출했던 이 첫 번째 반응은 이 논리를 억누르거나 무효로 만든 또 다른 반응에 의해서 의문시되거나 논박된다. 이 두번째 반응은 철학과 역사 사이에 상이한 기능적 관계를 수립한다. 이것은 더 이상 역사적 동학을 사유의 이성에 종속시키는 걸 목표로 삼지 않으며, 오히려 어떤 사건들에서 그 자체로 철학적인 요소나 특징들을 발견하는 걸 목표로 삼는다. 그러므로 사건들의 의미는 더 이상 관찰자의 세계관에 따라서, 또는 이들의 철학적 관점에 일치하여 외부로부터 부과되는 것이 아니며, 오히려 이 의미는 사건들 자체로부터 흘러나오는 것처럼 보이거나 사건들을 통해서 스스로를 수립하는 것처럼 보인다. -- 사건들의 새로움, 범위, 또는 효과 때문에. 어쩌면 관점에 있어서의 이러한 변화는 또한 하이데거에서 비트겐슈타인에 이르는 위대한 20세기 촐학자들이, 코제브의 말을 빌리면 한편으로는 '철학의 종언'이라고 서술한 것과 다른 한편으로는 '역사의 종언'이라고 서술한 것에 상응한다. 진정으로 종언에 이르렀던 것은 역사를 철학적 실행의 대상으로서 관찰/고찰하는 방식이었다.
      This first response, which produced epoch-making analyses, is questioned or contested by another which suppresses or revokes its logic. This second response establishes a different functional relationship between philosophy and history, no longer one that aims to subordinate the historical dynamic to the reason of thought, but rather to discover in certain events, elements or characteristics which are in themselves philosophical. Thus, the sense of events is no longer imposed from the outside, according to the point of view, or in accordance with the philosophical perspective of the observer, but rather that this sense appears to flow from the events themselves, or establish itself through them - because of their novelty, scope, or effect. Perhaps this change in viewpoint also corresponds with what the great 20th century philosophers, from Heidegger to Wittgenstein, but taking in Kojève, described as the "end of philosophy", on the one hand, and the "end of history" on the other. What truly did come to an end was a way of observing history as an object of philosophical exercise. One might say that from then on history has no longer been the object of philosophy but rather its subject. In the same way that philosophy ceased to determine the form of history and became instead its content. If we accept that the events of our present are in themselves charged with a certain philosophical weight, then the objective of reflection will no longer consist of attributing to history a sense that matches hypotheses and historical developments, but rather in confronting the significance that was present in the events from the very moment of their inception. But this, be careful, should not be taken to mean that history is provided with a single pre-existing meaning, for this was precisely the pretension of all philosophies of history, no matter whether they were progressive or regressive, ascendant or descendant. Rather, just the opposite, this meaning is that which results from the confrontation and conflict between numerous high density vectors that are in competition with each other. The events with the greatest significance, for example the attack on the Twin Towers, are precisely those that suddenly demolish prior significance, and in an unforeseen way open up a new source of signification. In this radical way the expression that postulates that contemporary history is eminently philosophical becomes comprehensible. I do not mean that history can only be understood in its essence from a philosophical viewpoint and not from other more reductionist ones, such as economics, sociology or political sciences, as Augusto Del Noce sustained  in a precocious and neglected work (A. Del Noce, 1982), but rather that the decisive events, world wars, technological advances, globalisation, terrorism..., are philosophical powers that are struggling to take and dominate the world; that are competing to become the dominant interpretation, that is, the definitive significance. Thus, even more than oil, weapons, or democracy, what is at stake in the present conflict is the metaphysical desire to define the sense of contemporary history.

 
Two interpretative models
2. I shall try to relate these two styles of understanding contemporary history - that which corresponds to the more traditional philosophy of history and that of history as philosophy - with two hermeneutic paradigms which are quite confused and overlapping, and yet end up being radically alternative, in opposition to each other in terms both of their hypotheses and their effects. The two paradigms are totalitarianism and biopolitics. Despite the attempts to bring them together in a framework that makes each the continuation or confirmation of the other, whether it be in the form of a biopolitical totalitarianism or totalitarian biopolitics, they are in fact interpretative models that diverge in terms of logic, and furthermore, are destined to be mutually exclusive, because at heart, even more so than in terms of particular contents, they oppose each other in terms of their postulates regarding the relation between philosophy and history, and in the way in which they conceive the history of and in terms of philosophy.

      In a totalitarian category graphic representation (axis of coordinates), history is inscribed throughout the chronological cycle, though the latter is fractured by a fundamental division between two options, the democratic and the totalitarian. These two succeed or replace each other, alternating over time. The long period of liberal democratic development, during the middle of the last century, was succeeded by another which was totalitarian, in both the west and the east. These were then overcome in two continuations, in 1945 and in 1989 respectively, leading to the victory of the liberal democratic model, which currently holds sway throughout the west. The result is a double historico-philosophical configuration. Modern history, then, is laid out along a single vertical line, at first, ascendant and progressive, and then, from the 1920s onwards, regressive and declining, and finally, in the second half of the century, once more reverting to, or being redirected in, the right direction. This despite the fact that risks of involution are currently appearing, above all in the Islamic world. Yet while the vertical axis is fractured, on the horizontal there appears a profound homogeneity of forms, contents, languages, that seem very different not only from Nazism and Communism, overlapping in a single conceptual block, but also from those of liberalism and democracy, meeting, without too many problems, the demands of a philosophy of history more inclined to assimilation than to differentiation. In fact, in order for the totalitarian paradigm to be attributed to a fairly traditional philosophy of history, constant and contradictory recourse is taken to the category of ‘origin'. It is no coincidence that this word appears in the titles of two of the most important texts: The Origins of Totalitarianism by Arendt (H. Arendt, 1951) and The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy by Talmon (J. L. Talmon, 1952). Note the evident sign of the inherence of this category, ‘totalitarianism', which is claimed to be new, in a highly classical philosophical framework. In all the philosophical essays on totalitarianism, the gaze of the observer searches for the origin, and ends up absorbed in his or her investigation: Where does it come from? What engendered it? What is the seed of all that 20th century totalitarianism has brought to the world?

      In this interrogation about its origins appears the first antinomy of the paradigm as a whole: how to discover the genesis of the totalitarian phenomenon, declared unassimilable to all other forms of government, as Hannah Arendt does, and thus, as a consequence, alien to any genetic sequence of a causal nature? Why search for the origin of something that appears to have no origin? How is it possible to reconcile the discontinuity in principle - the absolute novelty of the totalitarian event - and the continuity in fact, its provenance from an origin?

       There are two possible strategies for responding, and both are typical of the historicist model. The first is that adopted by H. Arendt, which traces the entire western political tradition back to an original loss, that of the Greek polis. In Arendt's theory, this loss produces, in the following period, a depoliticisation that converges into the anti-political deviation of totalitarian domination. The totalitarianism of the 20th century, understood as a dynamic and as a logic that in itself was unitary, ends up appearing to be a result that although not a priori inexorable, did in fact become inevitable when certain conditions or circumstances concurred, in a logic similar to that which leads to modernity as a whole. It is true that for H. Arendt, between the two segments involved there is always an unforeseen acceleration that differentiates those who are connoted, situated on a single line of development, to be hurled in the end into the abysm of Auschwitz and Kolyma. She also sustains, clumsily, that it was Hobbes who "provided political thought with the hypotheses underlying all racial theories" (H. Arendt, 1951).

      On the other hand the path trod by Talmon, and later, though in another way, by François Furet (F. Furet, 1997), is that of searching for the origin of totalitarianism within the democratic tradition itself, which it must oppose. Here totalitarianism is characterised as an illness whose origins lie not in Hobbes or Rousseau, but in the decisive event connoting modernity: the French Revolution. In this way, the paradigm in question ends up locked in a second antinomy, no less important than the first: while the reference to the French Revolution, that is, the most radical experiment in political democratisation, might be valid in terms of explaining communism, how can it also explain Nazism?

      A difficulty, a logical flaw, which not even H. Arendt's great essay can avoid.  This work is divided into two parts: the first, a masterly genealogical reconstruction of Nazi anti-Semitism that goes back to the war years, and the second where she compares Nazism with Stalinist communism, a poorer part, and doubtless influenced by the atmosphere of the incipient Cold War. The reason for this deformity, perhaps related with the closed nature of the Soviet archives, concerns the critical point of the interpretative model as a whole: the difficulty of finding the roots of Soviet communism in the same deviation of a degenerate critical process that transformed the nation-state into colonial imperialism, to the point of the explosion of biological racism that led to Nazism. How to include in one framework, in a single horizon of categories, a hyper-natural conception, like that of the Nazis, with the historicist paroxysm of communism?

      What is the connection, from a philosophical point of view, between a theory of absolute equality - which communism is, at least in principle - and a theory, and even more, a practice of absolute difference, like Nazism?

      A monochrome vision seems to prevail of a single vertical opposition between the period of democracy and the period of totalitarianism regarding the great caesurae, logical categorical and linguistic, that fractured modern history, in which the paradigm of totalitarianism is portrayed as a difficult period of inscrutable complexity. It is not by chance, but precisely because of this logical and historical difficulty, that Arendt's work continues to be a great book about Nazism, just as those of Aron, Talmon and Furet are only books about communism. The reason for the choice - in reality, the necessity - that excludes from the discourse the other pole of the paradigm, as identified by Aron in his essay Democracy and Totalitarianism, is the fact that the interpreter is only interested in those regimes that declare themselves democratic when, on the contrary, they tend to end up being perverse deviations from democracy (R. Aron, 1969). Both Talmon and Furet, though also Gauchet (M. Gauchet, 1976) and Lefort (C. Lefort, 1981), validate this thesis of Aron's: the totalitarianism of the left grows out of a diseased rib of democracy, and not from anything external to it. Further, the totalitarian regime does not come out of a deficit but rather from its opposite, from an excess, from an overabundance of democracy -from a democracy that is so radical, extreme, and absolute, so full of egalitarian substance, that it breaks its own formal limits and implodes, transmuting into its own opposite. Communism, suggests Gauchet, is instituted through a perverse inversion of the democratic model, whose traits it deforms in a ghostly way, but always from the inside, from within the assumptions of the democratic model. There the utopian dream meets the demon of a possessed democracy and they blend in a confused mishmash. At this point, the chain of aporiae of the paradigm of totalitarianism is evident. If communism is not only located within the conceptual horizon of democracy inherited from the French Revolution, but in addition, in some sense takes this to its extreme and only in this way to its dissolution; if it is connected to this revolution in its genesis and in its egalitarian excess, how can the distinction between totalitarianism and democracy, on which the whole of the discourse is built, be sustained? It is possible in the same way that totalitarianism has proved itself capable of transforming itself into the opposite of that which gave birth to it. Secondly, if such an antinomic relation with democracy might be valid for communism, it is not, of course, valid for Nazism, which in a coherent way has been excluded from the analytical schema by all these authors. But in this case, it sits less easily with the very logical consistency of the category of totalitarianism. Already shaky in a historical sense, it also collapses in terms of the philosophical hypotheses from which it appeared to draw its final guarantee.

 
Starting from concrete events
3. Unlike that of totalitarianism, the biopolitical paradigm does not take as its starting point a philosophical hypothesis, of whatever kind of philosophy of history, but rather the concrete events themselves, and not only the facts, but also the effective languages that make them comprehensible. Even more than the analysis of Foucault (cf. M. Foucault, 2008) and the genealogy of Nietzsche, and in particular the latter's deconstruction of the concept of origin - that origin which the theoreticians of totalitarianism were still searching for - it is necessary to change the point of view in order to find a perspective that suits this new way of looking. If there is no unequivocal origin of the historical process, if the latter is not unique, because it duplicates or multiplies itself into many, in such a way that these can no longer be defined as such, as Nietzsche explains in radical contrast with all the forms of philosophical historicism, in such a case, then the historical events of the west will clearly not be reducible to the linearity of the single perspective. The entire interpretation of modernity is then profoundly altered. And as a consequence, all possibilities of a unified reading, of whatever kind, vanish to be replaced by an image divided by horizontal and vertical fault lines that break all postulated continuums. In addition, that reading which in the preceding paradigm was configured as a simple fact - like acquired knowledge - of the singular language of politics, now becomes dilated into a much broader relationship, the result of the meeting, the failure to meet, or the mere juxtaposition, with the lexicons of other disciplines that interact and contaminate each other creating novel effects. The bursting of biological life onto the scene, rather than predisposing modern philosophy as a whole to a single depoliticising deviation - as in Arendt's model - decomposes the scene, reordering it in accordance with different vectors of sense that accumulate or affect each other but without becoming confused or unified into a single direction of flow. The strength of the biopolitical perspective resides, in fact, in its capacity to read this trap and this conflict, this deviation and this implication; the powerfully antinomic result of the cross-fertilisation of languages, such as the political and the biological, which are heterogeneous in their origins. What happens when an ‘outsider', life, bursts into the political sphere shattering its supposed autonomy, displacing the discourse to a terrain that refuses to yield to the traditional terms - democracy, power, ideology - of modern political philosophy?

      The phenomenon of Nazism is situated in this framework, where its radical heterogeneity can also be studied. Without drawing on more recent interpretations, Ernst Nolte, whom no-one can suspect of having leftist sympathies, characterised the theoretical fallacy of situating on the same lexical plane an ideology like communism - in truth, catastrophic in terms of its political consequences - and something like Nazism, which of course cannot in any way be placed in the same category (E. Nolte, 1987). In contrast to what H. Arendt thought, Nazism is not an ‘ideology', because it belongs to a lower dimension and one that is different from those which contain ‘ideas', whence, on the other hand, Marxist communism sprang. Nazism is not a different species within one family, that of the totalitarian, because it lies outside the western tradition, which does however include, like an outlying spur, the philosophy of communism. In contrast to these traditions, unified despite their internal differences by a shared reference to a transcendent universal idea, Nazism elaborates a radically different conception that has no need of legitimating itself with an idea, whatever that idea might be, because its intrinsic foundation is in mere material force. This in its turn is not the product - contingent or necessary - of a history that defines relations between men on the basis of their freely taken decisions or, as the communist doctrine considers, of their social conditions, but rather as a fact that is absolutely natural which corresponds solely to the biological realm. Recognising in Nazism the attempt, the only one of its kind, to liberate the natural features of existence from their historical peculiarity, means overturning Arendt's thesis of the totalitarian juxtaposition of the philosophy of nature with that of history. And, even more so, it means identifying the notion of its unassimilable character as a dead end, and therefore, the philosophical impracticability of the notion of totalitarianism.

      The 20th century, examined from a biopolitical point of view, offers a vision of the complete course of modernity, not determined nor decided by the superficial and contradictory antithesis between totalitarianism and democracy, but rather by that which is much more profound - in that it concerns the conservation of life - between history and nature, between the historicisation of nature and the naturalisation of history. Much more profound, I say, because it cannot refer to a symmetrical bipolarity, for the fact that this nature - understood, as Nazism did, in a biological sense - is not an anti-history, a philosophy or ideology that is opposed to that of history, but rather a non-philosophy and a non-ideology. Not a political philosophy but a political biology, a politics of life and about life, inverted into its opposite, and thus a producer of death. As Levinas wrote in the 1930s, in Nazism "the biological, with all the facility which that involves, becomes much more than an object of spiritual life, it is transformed into its very heart" (E. Levinas, 1996). And this element which is immediately bio, that is, Nazism's politics of death - and not the number of victims, which is smaller than that produced by Stalinist communism - is what makes the category of totalitarianism historically and theoretically unusable.

 
Intensification of the conflict
4. The implosion of the communist system, which brought the Cold War to an end, and the subsequent explosion of terrorism have given rise to the illusion of returning to the old political lexicon that existed prior to the so-called totalitarianisms. However, at present the biopolitical conflict appears to be growing even more intense. From this perspective, the end of World War II does not indicate, either in terms of language or in material practice, the victory of the alliance between democracy and communism, but rather that of a liberalism that forms part of the same biopolitical regime that, falling into its opposite, had given rise to Nazism. I mean that Nazism, in this sense much younger than communism, emerges from the war having been definitively defeated militarily and politically, but not completely in cultural and linguistic terms, since the centrality of the bios as object and subject of politics was reinforced, though metamorphosed into a liberal form, which means that appropriations and possible modifications of the body may be performed not only by the state but also by the individual who is the owner of him/herself. If for Nazism man is merely a body, and nothing more, for liberalism, from Locke onwards, man has his own body, which he possesses and may, therefore, use, transform, or sell as an inner slave. In this sense, liberalism - here I am referring to its conceptual categories - inverts the Nazi perspective, transferring ownership of the body from the state to the individual, but remains within the same biopolitical lexicon. The biopolitical nature of liberalism is precisely what differentiates it from democracy. With an exaggeration that is not wholly unjustified, we might say that the reason why after the so-called totalitarianisms it is not possible to return to democratic liberalism, resides in the fact that the latter has never existed as such. In the same way that we have deconstructed the assimilation of Nazism and communism into the category of totalitarianism, so with the same clarity we might question the notion of democratic liberalism. The ideology of liberalism, in its logic, hypothesis and conceptual language - particular, counter-egalitarian, and on occasions also naturalist - while not the negation of democracy, which tends to universality and egalitarianism, is very different from it, as Carl Schmitt pointed out in a great essay in the 1920s on parliamentarianism and democracy (C. Schmitt, 1923). If we adopt a representation of modernity that is not historicist, in other words, if we reject the idea of a chronological succession between demo-liberal and totalitarian regimes, in favour of a different representation, let's say, genealogic or topological, we see that the true fault line, the conceptually significant discrimination, is not the vertical between totalitarianism and demo-liberalism, but rather the horizontal and transversal, between democracy and communism on the one side - communism as the paroxysmic consummation of democratic egalitarianism - and biopolitics on the other. The latter is divided into two antithetical, though not unconnected, forms, Nazism and liberalism: biopolitics of the state and individual biopolitics.

      In addition, Foucault himself noted the biopolitical nature of liberalism (M. Foucault, 2008), situating it on the plane of governing life, and as such, opposed, or at least a stranger to the universalist procedures of democracy. Democracy, at least that form which proclaimed itself as such, founded on the primacy of abstract laws and the equality of rights of individuals equipped with the powers of reason and free will, came to an end in the 1920s and ‘30s and can no longer be reconstructed, much less exported. If the democratic regime is reduced to merely the presence of more than one party in formal competition and the use of elections to form governing majorities, then such a system can always sustain itself, as has happened recently, with the steady increase in the number of formal democracies in the world. But in this way we lose sight of the radical transformation that has been wrought on democracy, dragging it into a semantic orbit that is proof against all that the concept of democracy itself presupposes. Note: in sustaining this thesis I am not referring to the dysfunctions, defects, limits, or contradictions that are implicit in all political forms of government, necessarily imperfect and incomplete. Rather I am alluding to a profound upheaval within the democratic horizon itself. This can be seen immediately when we shift from the formal to the material plane of the current political regimes. It is true that democracy as such has no ‘contents': it is a technique, a series of norms that set out to distribute power in a way that is proportional to the wishes of the electorate. But it is precisely for this reason that it explodes or implodes when filled with a substance that it cannot contain without transforming itself into a radically different thing.

      It is biological life, both individual and of the population at large, that occupies centre-stage in all significant political decisions. This does not mean that in the confrontation between political forces other options are not being debated regarding international relations, internal order, the model of economic development, definitions of civil rights... However, the explosive element in terms of the traditional democratic framework, consists of the fact that all these options refer, with no mediation whatsoever, to the body of the citizens.

      If we consider that in our own country the proposals that have generated most interest amongst the public are those related to the prohibition of smoking, drug use, road safety, immigration, or artificial insemination, we can appreciate the extent and also the direction of this change of paradigm: the health care model has become not only the privileged object of politics but even the very form of political life; and in addition, of a type of politics whose sole possible source of legitimisation is life. And the only things that move citizens to intervene, or that at least interest them, are matters relating to conservation, the limits or the exclusion of the body itself. Yet here is the decisive point: at the moment in which the living, or dying, body becomes the symbolic and material epicentre of political dynamics and conflicts, we enter a dimension that is not ‘post-‘ or ‘beyond' democracy, as it is often described, but rather decidedly outside it; not only in its procedures but also in its language and conceptual structure. It is always a question of rebelling against a group of equalised subjects precisely for the fact of their being separated from the body itself, that is, considered as pure atoms of logic equipped with rational will. This element of abstraction or stripping bare of the body is echoed in the proposals that aim to set the person at the centre of democratic practice. In these proposals, the word ‘person', in accordance with its original scope, means a disembodied subjectivity, something that is different from the series of impulses, needs and desires brought together in the corporeal dimension (cf. R. Esposito, 2007). When, with the biopolitical change of direction highlighted here, even this corporeal dimension is transformed into a real interlocutor of the government, subject and object at the same time, the principle of equality is called into question, inapplicable as it is to something like bodies, where each is necessarily different from all others, according to criteria that are redefined and modified from time to time. But apart from the principle of equality, a whole series of differences or oppositions are also questioned which are even more fundamental to democracy, the entire political conception of modernity, as well as everything this generates in terms of the public, the private, the cultural and the natural, the juridical, the theological...

      At the moment that the body substitutes or "fills" the abstract subjectivity of the legal recognised person, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate what is of the public realm and what is private. And more generally, what belongs to the natural order and what depends on technical intervention, with all the ethical and religious implications the latter brings in its train.

      The reason for this imprecision, and the incorrigible nuisances it occasions, is that human life interweaves the public with the private, the natural with the artificial, the theological with the political, binding them together in such a way that no majority decision can undo. Hence, its centrality is not compatible with the conceptual lexicon of democracy. Contrary to what we might imagine, the insurrection of life into the mechanisms of power signals the eclipse of democracy, at least of that type of democracy we have been able to imagine to date. This does not mean that it is impossible to imagine another type, compatible with the irreversible emergence of biopolitics now underway. But where to look, and how to conceive what a biopolitical democracy or democratic biopolitics might mean today, one capable of working, if not through bodies, at least in favour of them? It is difficult to recommend a defined model. For the moment it is only possible to glimpse it. What is true is that to activate a current of thought in such a direction, it is necessary to divest ourselves of all the old philosophies of history and of all the conceptual paradigms that constantly drag us back to them.


Works cited

H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism; 1951, Pub. Schocken.

R. Aron, Democracy and Totalitarianism: A Theory of Political Regimes; 1969, Pub. Praeger

A. Del Noce, L'interpretazione transpolitica della storia contemporanea; 1982, Naples, Pub. Guida.

R. Esposito, Terza persona. Politica della vita e filosofia dell'impersonale; 2007, Pub. Einaudi

M. Foucault, Security, Territory and Population; 2007, Pub. Palgrave Macmillan

M. Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics; 2008, Pub. Palgrave Macmillan

F. Furet, The History of an Illusion; 1997 Pub. The Free Press

M. Gauchet, L'experiénce totalitaire et la pensée de la politique; 1976, in the Journal  "Esprit", Nºs 7 and 8.

C. Lefort, L'invention démocratique. Les limites de la domination totalitaire; 1981,  Paris, Pub.  Fayard.

E. Levinas, Reflections on the Philosophy of Hitlerism; 1990 Critical Inquiry, Vol. 17. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press

E. Nolte, The European Civil War, 1917-1945: National Socialism and Bolshevism; 1987

C. Schmitt, Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus; 1923, Munich-Leipzig, Pub. Duncker & Humblot.

J. Talmon, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy; 1952, Pub. Secker and Warburg.


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