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Totalitarian Language

Creating Symbols to Destroy Words

Juan Francisco Fuentes

This article deals with totalitarianism and its language, conceived as both the denial and to some extent the reversal of liberalism and its conceptual framework. Overcoming liberal language meant not only setting up new political terminology, but also replacing words with symbols, ideas with sensations. This is why the standard political lexicon of totalitarianism became hardly more than a slang vocabulary for domestic consumption and, by contrast, under those regimes—mainly Italian fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism—a amboyant universe of images, sounds, and metaphors arose. Many of these images revolved around the human body as a powerful means to represent a charismatic leadership and, at the same time, an organic conception of their national communities. Totalitarian language seems to be a propitious way to explore the “dark side” of conceptual history, constituted by symbols rather than words.

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Eugenia Gay, Philipp Nielsen, Emanuel Richter, and Gregor Feindt

Stalin Pavel Kolár, Raymonde Monnier, Der Poststalinismus: Ideologie und Utopie einer Epoche [Poststalinism: Ideology and utopia of an epoch] (Cologne: Böhlau, 2018), 370 pp. GREGOR FEINDT Leibniz Institute of European History In his new book

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Reinhart Koselleck, Translated By Margrit Pernau, and Sébastien Tremblay

for myself: dear Stalin, make me mute, so that I too reach home. 2 Apparently Stalin heard my prayer—or was it the lecturer, who did not denounce me? He was discharged at the same time as I was. When we finally crossed the border at Hof after many

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Introduction

History, Violence, and Steven Pinker

Mark S. Micale and Philip Dwyer

might at first seem illogical given that an estimated 160–180 million people were killed as a direct result of war and genocide—consider World Wars I and II, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia—but Pinker argues that

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Mark S. Micale

magnitude of Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, or Stalin’s Soviet Union has had the capacity to threaten Western liberal democracies. Such reassuring assumptions, however, are misguided, because our current postcommunist world is far from nuclear-free. The Cold

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Carl Strikwerda

most dramatic statist economic models arose along with dictatorial regimes. German government control of the economy in World War I inspired Soviet planners, who launched Stalin’s collectivization and forced industrialization drive. Fascist Italy

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Richard Bessel

probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species’ time on earth. In the decade of Darfur and Iraq, and shortly after the century of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, the claim that violence has been diminishing may seem somewhere between hallucinatory and

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Resist and Revivify

Democratic Theory in a Time of Defiance

Jean-Paul Gagnon and Emily Beausoleil

’s response to the populists of his time—Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, men who criticized elites and emphasized the centrality of the people, yet framed “the people” in homogenous terms. They also convinced their followers that they were in the midst of a