« Featherstone: Protesting Wall St.'s riches | Main | Zizek: Why the Idea and Why Communism »

September 28, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I look forward to reading your essay but I have to ask: clearly the declaration of "We are the 99%" is an opening but what necessarily leads it to a new society "anchored in collectivity and the common." Perhaps you aren't saying that it necessarily follows, but simply that it asserts an opportunity. Thank you for sharing.


I was left wondering with many of Žižek's analyses, just where one could go next with this highlighting of drive as opposed to desire. What I like about your piece is that it takes a step back and instead of following Žižek and talking about drive as some Schellingian pre-ontological abyss, and then left wondering where a progressive politics can take this, you give us an example of a desire that escapes the logic of consumerism, that is, you return desire as a concept that can be used for progressive theorizing. No longer must we abandon this term 'desire' to advertising codes and unfulfilled consermer want ...
I sense that you are also with this concept of communist desire, moving away from individualist notion of the Act, as an instance of political subjectivization. Do you find Žižek's notion of the Act falls prey to the critique you make of Badiou, in terms of isolating the individual subject as opposed to a more collective transformation?

Is communist subjectivization a collective process? You also say that every marking of the people, a collective 'we,' is an elusive notion, you state:

"The people are elusive. They exceed their symbolic instantiation as well as the images and fantasies that try to fill the gaps. Communist desire, a collective desire to desire communist, occupies and mobilizes this gap, recognizing its openness (that is, the impossibility of the people) and treating it as the movement of communism itself"

Your earlier work on Z's politics, in a chapter outlining a love beyond the law, you cite as an example Rousseau's General Will. I'm just afraid that your notion of a communist "we" that consolidates around a collective desire, may fall prey to the same types of criticisms and questions with regards to how this collective or universal communist "we" negotiates the particular. In other words, I see your work moving straight towards the complex web of issues with regards to the very problematic that somebody like the left-liberal William Connolly works within.

Could you elaborate more on the analyst discourse and its articulation with regards to the "subjetivization of communist desire". A couple of theorists with a background in Lacanian theory, (Ed Pluth and Molly Anne Rothenberg) jump off from the analyst discourse to think a progressive politics, the former follows a very Badiouian line that you would no doubt criticize as individualist, the latter takes off from Žižek's Bartleby but instead emphasizes the subjectivity not of Bartleby, but the lawyer who continually finds himself 'undone' by the (non) action of Bartleby, but never reacts in vengence or violence. However again Rothenberg's take on the analyst discourse for progressive political theory remains too individualist compared to the strong emphasis you place on the collective we. But I'm interested to know how you move from the discourse of analyst to the genesis of the communist collective subject.

Zizek work on the dialectical relation between particular and the universal requires of the subject the part of no-part, but in other of his works he also mentions the necessity for subjective destitution. You mention this also. Do you support the analalogy with Antigone? A communist subject, is reduced to substance-less subjectivity in what sense? Your example is somewhat abstract, but I feel that this is an important component of you entire emphasis on a communist subjectivity. Žižek mentions the Muselmann in the death camps, the sans-papiers etc. You state "The deprivation of substance—common, social, substance—leaves collectivity as its shell, as the form that remains for communist desire." Zizek substanceless subject is based on the Cartesian cogito, but that again is the individual doubting his surroundings and ultimately herself. But how does this move to communist subtanceless subjectivity occur on a collective basis?
Again Jodi, you're goin places that need to be gone to, but few possess your unblinking theoretically astute eye or the deft insight, or the courage to just say it. Thanks for posting this draft paper.

Jodi Dean

thanks so much for your comment--I've been out of town and now have to catch up; you've given me some good suggestions and a lot to think about; I hope to have some kind of response in a couple days. again, thanks for your questions and remarks, very much appreciated.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo