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Refusal to Separate: The Human Body Binds to a Body Politic
Hobbes, Thomas (1651). Leviathan
Hitler said to his people, “This Volk is but yourselves.” Totalitarianism imagines that individuals are nothing when not bound to a nation. There is no such thing as separation or separateness. The “life” of the body politic takes precedence over the bodies of individuals.

Totalitarianism represents the psychopathology of identification: inability to conceive of the existence of a self-separate from society.  “Symbiosis” is not an “infantile phase of development.” It’s the ground of our being as political creatures: fantasy that we are connected to something “out there.”


Our Nation is not just an idea in which you have no part; you yourself support the nation; to it you belong; you cannot separate yourself from it; your life is bound up with the life of your whole people; the nation is not merely the root of your strength, it is the root of your very life.

We imagine that we are part of a “dual unity.” Selfnation = no separation. Oneness with the sovereign. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Nationalism is a psychosomatic symptom. Countries are experienced as if embedded within the self.

Nations are constituted by the fantasy of a body politic that never dies. Our actual bodies are in the process of decay. But countries “live on.” National life is that realm that seems eternal. We bind our being to the “immortal realm.”

In order to partake of immortality, we relocate our actual body into the body politic. We imagine that our own body is fused with the body of the sovereign. This fantasy is the basis of “history.”

“Obedience” means inability to resist the will of the sovereign—because one’s body is bound to the body of the sovereign: no separation. Symbiosis is the bedrock of politics: The self becomes a body politic.

“Oppression” means attachment: inability or refusal to extricate one’s body from the body of the sovereign: refusal to abandon the idea of eternal fusion with an immortal body.

Rebellion gets one nowhere because oppression is based on attachment.

Can a body exist if not bound to a body politic?