From Biological to Moral Immortality: The Utopian Dimension of Socialist Work Ethics

Kirsch, Anja. (2018) From Biological to Moral Immortality: The Utopian Dimension of Socialist Work Ethics. In: Imaginations of Death and the Beyond in India and Europe. Heidelberg, pp. 59-82.

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In this article, I analyze the utopian heritage of socialist work ethics by tracing the narrative of work’s life-changing quality to a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century bio-utopian discourse on bodily immortality. The starting point is the historical relationship between socialist work ethics and bodily immortality, as it crystallized in an East German schoolbook, and its narrative staging of "socialist work". I show that the textbook’s allusion to life extension was not merely metaphorical but rooted in a bio-utopian discourse common in the age of the Russian Revolution, soon to be connected to scientific enterprises approaching biological immortality. My argument is that the link between immortality and work in the context of this biological discourse marked the birth of the socialist labor topos ; it also reveals little known literary roots of real socialism and its worldview. The GDR’s labor rhetoric thus documents a crucial change in the debate about the "nature" of socialism that was paralleled by a stylistic reorientation from science fiction to Socialist Realism.
Faculties and Departments:01 Faculty of Theology > Fachbereich Religionswissenschaft > Doppelprofessur Religionswissenschaft (Mohn)
04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Fakultär assoziierte Institutionen > Doppelprofessur Religionswissenschaft (Mohn)
UniBasel Contributors:Kirsch, Anja
Item Type:Book Section, refereed
Book Section Subtype:Book Chapter
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Book item
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Last Modified:13 Apr 2018 06:16
Deposited On:11 Apr 2018 09:42

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