• Stalin Beyond Stalin: A Paradoxical Hypothesis of Communism by Alexandre Kojève and Boris Groys

      Penzin, Alexei (Crisis and Critique, 2016-03)
      The article aims to undertake an immanent critique of the two heterodox interpretations of Stalin, by Alexandre Kojève and Boris Groys, and their contextualisation in terms of recent theoretical debates on the idea of communism. The article argues that there are implicit correlations of those two interpretations made at different times – in 1930-1940s in France and 1980s-2000s in Germany – by the philosophers-émigrés who, in different biographical ways, had an insider’s perspective on Stalinism. Kojève’s famous concept of “the end of history” was initially addressed to Stalin as “world-historical individual” and the USSR as “universal and homogenous” State, which he defines as a post-historical reality. He also presented Stalin as a post-historical “Sage” who is able to grasp the totality of contradictory positions. Groys radicalises these assumptions in his theory of “really existing” communism as a social formation founded not in the “rule of economics” but in language and in paradoxical thinking, far from any stereotypical views on Soviet theoretical dogmatism. Against the traditional Marxist view of communism as a society without the State (as an apparatus of class oppression), both Kojève and Groys insist on the notion of communism that is linked to an “altered” State – a “homogenous and universal State” in Kojève, and a paradoxical “non-State” in Groys.