Biopolitics and the Understanding of Totalitarianism: Violence and Power in the thought of Michel Foucault and Hannah Arendt

BinSaeed Murad


The aims of this research is to analyze firstly the relationship between the totalitarianism paradigm of Hannah Arendt and biopolitical paradigm of Michel Foucault, and find the common points between the two concepts in order to confirm the linear, intellectual and conceptual continuity thesis of both paradigms. Secondely, we analyse the relationship between the two paradigms and liberal democracy in the age of modernity, in order to confirm the teleogical solidarity thesis between the three concepts. To find these relationships between totalitarianism, biopolitics and democracy, we must overlap the given stereotype than take the negative relationship between totalitarianism and democracy. However, the biopolitical paradigm, through its focus on control of bodies practiced in Western societies, can help to reformulate the relationship between totalitarianism and Western democracy, and confirm the historical solidarity between them, because the employment of both paradigms the same techniques and disciplines. To reach the goal of the study, we will first discuss the relevance of Michel Foucault constribution in the emerging of biopolitical paradigm, and secondely we present the redefinition tentatives of theis paradidm by Antonio Negri and Giorgio Agamben. Thirdely, we analyze the relationship between biopolitics and totalitarianism by comparing Arendt and Foucault ideas, in addition to the contributions Agamben and its "camp" paradigm, which confirm the historical solidarity relationship between totalitarianism and Western democracy. We conclude by presenting the democratic alternative of tatalitarianism and biopolitics, through the concept of radical democracy based on the contributions of radical thinkers, especially Antonio Negri.


Biopolitics, Totalitarianism, Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, Radical Democracy.


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