Politics and Suicide: The philosophy of political self-destruction

Nicholas Michelsen, Politics and Suicide: The philosophy of political self-destruction, (London: Routledge, 2017)

 

Politics and Suicide argues that whilst the historical lineage of suicidal politics is recognised, the fundamental significance of autodestruction to the political remains under examined. It contends that practices like suicide-bombing do not simply embody a strange or abnormal ‘suicidal’ articulation of the political, but rather, that the existence of suicidal politics tells us something fundamental about the political as such and thinking about political violence more broadly.

Recent world events have emphatically shown our need for tools with which to develop better understandings of the politics of suicide. Through the exploration of several arresting case-studies, including the ‘Kamikaze’ bombers of World War Two, Jan Palach’s self-immolation in 1969, Cold War nuclear deterrence, and the suicide-terrorist attacks of 9/11 Michelsen asks how we might talk of a political suicide in any of these contexts. The book charts how political processes ‘go suicidal’, and asks how we might still consider them to be political in such a case. It investigates how suicide can function as ‘politics’.

A strong contribution to the fields of philosophy and international relations theory, this work will also be of interest to students and scholars of political theory and terrorism & political violence.