Politics and Suicide argues that whilst the historical lineage of suicidal politics is recognised, the fundamental significance of autodestruction to the political remains under examined. It contends that practices like suicide-bombing do not simply embody a strange or abnormal ‘suicidal’ articulation of the political, but rather, that the existence of suicidal politics tells us something fundamental about the political as such and thinking about political violence more broadly.
Recent world events have emphatically shown our need for tools with which to develop better understandings of the politics of suicide. Through the exploration of several arresting case-studies, including the ‘Kamikaze’ bombers of World War Two, Jan Palach’s self-immolation in 1969, Cold War nuclear deterrence, and the suicide-terrorist attacks of 9/11 Michelsen asks how we might talk of a political suicide in any of these contexts. The book charts how political processes ‘go suicidal’, and asks how we might still consider them to be political in such a case. It investigates how suicide can function as ‘politics’.
A strong contribution to the fields of philosophy and international relations theory, this work will also be of interest to students and scholars of political theory and terrorism & political violence.
Table of Contents
Kamikaze 1.1 State suicide 1.2 Politics, the assemblage of desire 1.3 The fascist assemblage 1.4 Revolution and annihilation 1.5 Mishima’s revolution Self-burning 2.1 Immolāre 2.2 Death and Desire 2.3 Events and Death 2.4 Palach’s revolution Hunger-striking 3.1 Crossing the threshold 3.2 Bodily Inscription 3.3 Decoding death 3.4 Exchange 3.5 Terror and Production Terror 4.1 Human bomb 4.2 The Despot 4.3 Liberal Suicides 4.4 Terror and Liberalism 4.5 A politics from the outside Cult and Revolution 5.1 Revolutionary suicide 5.2 Jonestown 5.3 Millenarianism 5.4 Dying well 5.5 Afterword: On machines
Nicholas Michelsen is Lecturer in International Relations Theory in the Department of War Studies at King's College London.