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Rudolf Kjellén: Nordic biopolitics before the welfare state

Gunneflo, Markus LU (2015) In Retfærd: Nordisk juridisk tidsskrift 35(3).
Abstract
This article aims to contribute to the history of biopolitical thought through a more accurate understanding of the Swedish professor of political science Rudolf Kjellén considered both in his historical and political context. Kjellén coined the term ‘biopolitics’, as early as 1905, in a two-volume work entitled The Great Powers, and developed it even further in a 1916 book entitled The State as a Form of Life. Because of the organicist analogies deployed by Kjellén, his biopolitical theory of the state is considered as a form of ‘vitalism’ or ‘organicism’ in the contemporary literature on biopolitics. Based on a close examination of texts only available in Swedish (and, to some extent, German) I argue that this fails to account for... (More)
This article aims to contribute to the history of biopolitical thought through a more accurate understanding of the Swedish professor of political science Rudolf Kjellén considered both in his historical and political context. Kjellén coined the term ‘biopolitics’, as early as 1905, in a two-volume work entitled The Great Powers, and developed it even further in a 1916 book entitled The State as a Form of Life. Because of the organicist analogies deployed by Kjellén, his biopolitical theory of the state is considered as a form of ‘vitalism’ or ‘organicism’ in the contemporary literature on biopolitics. Based on a close examination of texts only available in Swedish (and, to some extent, German) I argue that this fails to account for Kjellén’s argument for a strong state and his analysis of the rationality of state action in a multiplicity of areas of state intervention, including the guarding, refining and securing of the population stock. This reading brings Kjellén’s concept of biopolitics significantly closer to the reality that the French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault described, using the same concept, more than a half-century later. Kjellén’s writings also foreshadow subsequent developments of keen interest for biopolitical study in a Nordic context, particularly the rise of the social democratic welfare state and the social engineering of the population material, starting in the 1930s. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
in press
subject
keywords
the State, Rudolf Kjellén, biopolitics, Sweden, law, social democracy, allmän rättslära, jurisprudence
in
Retfærd: Nordisk juridisk tidsskrift
volume
35
issue
3
publisher
DJØF Publishing
ISSN
0105-1121
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
014e3f7b-0a6b-4535-8e83-d04a04d2008c (old id 8052428)
date added to LUP
2015-10-07 10:56:03
date last changed
2016-11-15 08:41:10
@article{014e3f7b-0a6b-4535-8e83-d04a04d2008c,
  abstract     = {This article aims to contribute to the history of biopolitical thought through a more accurate understanding of the Swedish professor of political science Rudolf Kjellén considered both in his historical and political context. Kjellén coined the term ‘biopolitics’, as early as 1905, in a two-volume work entitled The Great Powers, and developed it even further in a 1916 book entitled The State as a Form of Life. Because of the organicist analogies deployed by Kjellén, his biopolitical theory of the state is considered as a form of ‘vitalism’ or ‘organicism’ in the contemporary literature on biopolitics. Based on a close examination of texts only available in Swedish (and, to some extent, German) I argue that this fails to account for Kjellén’s argument for a strong state and his analysis of the rationality of state action in a multiplicity of areas of state intervention, including the guarding, refining and securing of the population stock. This reading brings Kjellén’s concept of biopolitics significantly closer to the reality that the French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault described, using the same concept, more than a half-century later. Kjellén’s writings also foreshadow subsequent developments of keen interest for biopolitical study in a Nordic context, particularly the rise of the social democratic welfare state and the social engineering of the population material, starting in the 1930s.},
  author       = {Gunneflo, Markus},
  issn         = {0105-1121},
  keyword      = {the State,Rudolf Kjellén,biopolitics,Sweden,law,social democracy,allmän rättslära,jurisprudence},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  publisher    = {DJØF Publishing},
  series       = {Retfærd: Nordisk juridisk tidsskrift},
  title        = {Rudolf Kjellén: Nordic biopolitics before the welfare state},
  volume       = {35},
  year         = {2015},
}