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Castoriadis, Cornelius (1922–1997)

Christos Boukalas


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Political philosopher, economist, psychoanalyst, and “sovietologist,” Castoriadis was among the most radical and original postwar thinkers. His theory informed the 1968 uprising in France and has deepened its influence since. Born to Greek parents in 1922 in Istanbul (then Constantinople), he soon moved to Athens, where he experienced the Nazi occupation, the resistance and liberation, the Greek civil war, and the Stalinist attempted coup of December 1944. His life can be seen as a series of ruptures, unified by the quest for autonomy. During the Greek civil war (1945), and persecuted by both Fascists and Stalinists, he fled to Paris and joined the Trotskyite Parti Communiste Internationaliste (Internationalist Communist Party) (PCI). While the latter defended the Stalinist regimes, seeing them as a temporary deviation from socialism, Castoriadis insisted that the rise of the bureaucracy was an organic, permanent element of “soviet” societies, which were as exploitative and repressive as any capitalist regime. A scission occurred in 1949 when the PCI offered enthusiastic support to Tito's dictatorship in Yugoslavia. Together with Claude Lefort and others, Castoriadis formed the Socialisme ou Barbarie (Socialism or Barbarity) group. In a series of publications in the group's review, Castoriadis conceptualized the widespread workers' struggles throughout the 1950s (East Germany, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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