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Totalitarianism - Public Seminar
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Publications Pages Publications Pages. Oxford Research Encyclopedias Politics. Search within subject: Select Genocide and Religion in Times of War. Read More. Back to results. Subscriber sign in. Forgot password? Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution.
Sign in with your library card. Search within Show Summary Details Summary and Keywords To understand the relationship between religion and genocide in time of war, one needs to distinguish between sacred and secular political religions.
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And hence the appeal to watch over a will to dominate, which points directly at life, a will to govern our lives in name of safety, not only through those restrictions of liberties that a state of emergency against terrorism would imply, but also through a soft, pervasive intrusion which speaks the language of securing our health. Although treating life as the absolute value of a collective entity — ethnicity, people, or race — has seen a decline, it has been replaced by the imperative to maximize the life of the individual.
A powerful social imaginary governs our Western lives, nurtured by continuous technological advances, which encourages elaborate fantasies of enhancement and prowess, even eternal life. Our problem is no longer what Foucault labored over in the late s, when he explained how biopower — the power that in the modern age took charge of the biological life of the population and its improvement — was able to easily transform itself into total domination over life and death.
As he himself pointed out at the beginning of the s, although the regimes between the two World Wars had focused on the life of the collective body, and promoting its health, the biopolitics of neoliberal societies in the West is different. We are witnessing the fragmentation and multiplication of powers that claim the right to regulate our lives. Having entrusted birth, death, and disease to the power and knowledge of the life sciences, these increasingly appear to us as something we can control.
The critics of neoliberal biopolitics are right when they say that an imagination imbued with the idea of optimizing life is fundamental to the mutual reinforcement between new medical and biotechnological sciences on the one hand, and the demands of capital accumulation on the other. But simply removing the demand for profit may not be sufficient to give individuals back their joyful, independent life power. Symbolic order and social imaginary are historical and concrete stratifications of meaning, both individual and collective, that act on all players involved without their necessarily being aware of them, inducing them to share in the system of presuppositions.
Though not forcing anyone to comply with them, these norms prompt people to reproduce their assumptions and content. It is as if we were compelled to live at our best, enhancing and actualizing to the utmost all the potential that we have been given. In response to this implicit injunction, our core values become our faith and hope in a life without limitations, in which nothing is left unexpressed.
There is no doubt that modern Western democracies have given us countless opportunities for self-realization.
Rather, my point is to question the side effects of this new social imaginary. Ours is a never-ending quest that, like it or not, reinforces the various powers on which it depends. The reason it has proved to be so ingrained is because it responds to the desire rooted in our deepest passions, the one that is so easily overindulged but at the same time so often abused. It is the desire to be more and more powerful. The new imperative in the West is to maximize our own life — first and foremost our biological life.
Forti, Il totalitarismo, 5 th edition, Roma-Bari: Laterza, There she wrote many books which are still milestones in contemporary political philosophy. The work that made her famous was The origins of Totalitarianism , first printed in , with a very important re-issue in The constitutional imaginary sets legitimation requirements to power, and prescribes constraints and terms of accountability. It emphasizes stability and limits. One consequence of the pursuit of an expansive power imaginary is the blurring of the lines separating reality from fancy, and truth telling from self-deception and lying.
In its imaginary, power is not so much justified as sanctified, excused by the lofty ends it proclaims, ends that commonly are antithetical to the power legitimated by the constitutional imaginary. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated, op cit. For a mapping of the disciplinary areas pertaining to biopolitics, see the work of Christian Geyer ed. Agamben expresses it in Homo sacer , 45ff.
Rosenberg, Der Mythus des XX. Jahrhunderts , vol. The most widely read and circulated include: J.
He is, indeed, one of the most widely read authors of the Nazi era, and his works had extensive success and were often reprinted. Forti, New demons, cit, pp. Fitzpatrick, The tyranny of Health. Doctors and the regulation of lifestyle, Routledge, London, ; J. We are a non-profit organization, wholly supported by The New School, and by the generosity of our sponsors and readers.
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