Specters of ‘Totalitarianism’: Poulantzas Faced with Fascism and the State of Exception
Today’s rediscovery of Nicos Poulantzas’s works seems to have overlooked his works on fascism, which are demoted to the level of historical and historiographical documents. Here, I argue against such an understanding. In my view, Poulantzas’s theory of fascism and the state of exception constitute the pivot around which his intellectual and political itinerary was organized. Poulantzas only became a Marxist theorist, properly speaking, from the moment that he began to work on the question of fascism and thus to mount a militant intervention on the strategic questions central to a properly Marxist theory of politics. Poulantzas combined these questions with a further notion, without doubt more surprising coming from a Marxist theorist: namely, ‘totalitarianism’. Far from being limited to an object of polemic, this category would serve both to indicate a persistent problem and to provide a spur to venture down new paths.