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September 13, 2009


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Bob Allen

Oh stop it, your blog rocks, Twitter and Facebook suck. You need to get out in the street and fight like we did in Bellevue Nebraska, humiliating those Operation Rescue idiots. Dare I say, you are spending too much energy looking at the media and its representation of how things are going-- of course the fascists shoot first, that's what they do. But our situation is far from hopeless, it just requires a real fight in meatspace. Theory can't be just theory, it must be applied (yeah, I made that up myself, maybe it should go on my tombstone? lol). Go on and drift away from blogging if you like, just know that I've learned alot from it (your blog)that I'd have never learned any other way and I appreciate it....thanks


Bob--that's the best comment ever. You are completely right about too much time with media and not enough time in the streets; I actually had intended to link to a new anarchist/action sort of online journal (although that's kinda a fold back in on media rather than action, but I had thought of it as a link to something more attuned to acting in the moment rather than getting caught up in stupidity. It's really exciting that you were out there against the operation rescue folks--on a personal note, one of the guys who assassinated an ob-gyn doc took shots at my brother in law a number of years ago--right through the plate glass window in his house.


I have to second Bob's comments. Your blog rocks and it has been a great site for information and discussion. If you want to drift away so be it - I know it is hard not to be discouraged. But as someone once said, "miracles do happen."


More than Bob's comment, Jodi maybe it is time for america to see Academics taking part in union organizing, especially this time of crisis. Another, try to look at the third world, their revolution is getting enormous, an exemplar of tireless persuasion and organizing of the masses. Sometimes we tend to articulate so much the capatialist system but we have to remember that from the materialist conception of history, it is the same order and things that we can get being located on this stage of mode of production. The challenge for the left today is to push back again the relevance and validity of a proletarian revolution and nothing more.


Marco--thanks for your comment. I confess that I am not knowledgeable in the least about revolution in the third world; in fact, I'm confused about whether third world refers to countries and regions or whether, as I tend to think, it designates the oppression and inequality accompanying the extremes of wealth connecting global capitalism (in the US case I'm thinking of places like Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit).

I appreciate and agree with your point about the challenge for the left today. I might think of various ways of phrasing it (like holding open the space for revolutionary aspiration or marking the loss of this aspiration or even appreciating anew the ways proletarian is a political category), but these ways would definitely involve the push back you mention.

The union organizing part is a bit more complicated. I applaud those who are active organizers (and find the bravery of those who undertake organized strikes inspiring). I'm not sure, though, exactly what academics' taking part means. I say this in part because faculty where I teach (and many other places) aren't considered workers with respect to collective bargaining agreements.

I have friends and colleagues who have worked tirelessly with organizers in specific locals (mostly farmworkers), following their lead and learning from the issues they encounter. Where I have seen academics make mistakes is in entering a situation and presuming to know in advance exactly what the union should demand and what is involved in these demands. I've also seen academics get caught up between union interests and community interest in ways that helped no one (a conflict over a construction project; on the one hand, the work was supposed to be down by unionized labor; on the other, there was no unionized labor in the immediate community, which meant that workers in the community were automatically excluded from employment on the project).

All in all, I think that you and the other commenters are right to emphasize action on the ground rather than inaction in the ether.

Lowell Rice


I think this piece sums up your ennui perfectly


Jocelyn Atkins

hi Jodi:

I have always wanted to comment but just figured ah, what is the difference; but now I feel like I must . I am a 32 yr old union carpenter with a degree in Philosophy. I have been laid off since January and just lost my health insurance. I am applying to PhD programs in Philosophy despite the fact that I will probably be in a worse situation than I am now, as a "contracted" worker without any union representation, not to mention the bleak landscape of jobs in the academy. But I am doing this because I believe there is another option, a different analysis. It is your work and that of Zizek that have, no doubt, streamlined many of my convictions and well, I know it sounds cliche, but really, given me some hope. I agree with the others: do what you must regarding the blog but please know that your work here has been very helpful for me in understanding much of your work and that of Zizek's. Not only has it been helpful but sort of a coping mechanism. So, thanks.


Lowell--great link; thanks.

Jocelyn--thanks for writing, I really appreciate it. And best of luck with your application to programs in philosophy. Losing your insurance is awful. It seems to me that unions should be sources of health insurance (maybe some are??). I really hope things turn around for you (and very much admire the fact that you have carpentry skills).


The west coast says that Teachers can act like part of collective bargaining agreement, even if they're not officially part of it:


Dude, apathy is the lubricant of capitalism. (Among other things). Don't stop believing blogging.


"apathy is the lubricant of capitalism."

It's a nice line, but I'm trying to think of what isn't the lubricant of capitalism. Sometimes I tell my students that "friendship" might stand as genuine oppositional thinking/acting/judging, but capitalism can deal with that, too, that is, it can thrive within the terms set by any social form or gluten.

So your charge to Jodi appears to be a nonsequitur: the command "Don't be apathetic because you're then a stooge, therefore, blog" doesn't make sense. The question should be instead: does Jodi's blogging have any political efficacy?

I think quite obviously it does not. But what then might make her blogging defensible? She is having a hard time justifying its continuation. Perhaps it filled a (psychological) niche that is now full. Perhaps she is writing so much elsewhere in a tone that she developed here that she doesn't need to be here anymore.

I have been thinking for a while about 'professionalization.' Perhaps Jodi's professional duties have so merged with her off-the-cuff stuff that, again, she doesn't need this forum. (It is for those without sufficient, other, inroads to the ears that matter, and she's got their ears now in a way she didn't before.) In this vein, a friend, a long time ago, said, "mostly these days I read professionally." We can see here a Weberian/Habermasian insight about the modernization process. Home-brew doesn't cut it. We've become glass. I mean to say: Jodi is becoming herself, with one voice, regardless of the audience (she doesn't need to reserve an "exploratory" voice for some audiences, this audience). This comes with age and power (or defeat).

Bob Allen

it is what we do without needing to do that is important-- for those of us in her audience who aren't academics, this blog has political efficacy galore, and to say it obviously doesn't reveals a class bias however unintentional. But this doesn;t mean Jodi shouldn't stop blogging, either, for whatever reason- not blogging doesnt make one a "stooge", obviously.


I have to say as another non-academic that Jodi's blog has had political efficacy for me as well. Unless one has a very narrow definition of "the political" what Jodi does here (among other things) is bridge the divide between academic theory and the current situation. My engagements with her and others at i cite have been an impetus for me to personally engage in politics in a way I would probably never have done otherwise. And as someone who would best be described as a traditional new deal liberal, Jodi's provocations have awoken me to more "leftist" views of our current politics. What ultimate efficacy this influence has in the larger society is hard to quantify - but it is a mistake to discount.

Bob Allen

Yes! Alain, thanks for fleshing out what I meant to say; I apologize to Joe for the "class bias " comment, it was a simplification.



I might as well confess to liking the blog, though my involvement in it is limited now -and likely in the future- to just reading it. Basically I don't think I know enough to comment on it -understanding the blog at times is hard enough for my non-academic brain.

But reading the blog is nice enough. It gives nice leftist insights into global and American politics. I also appreciate the fact that the blogs approach is profoundly psychological and isn't too afraid of pessimism. Frustratingly, most public political discussion seems to assume there are no really implicit dimensions in politics hidden to the public eye. Of course some implicit political phenomena like bribery or other illegal forms of corruption sometimes make it to the public discussion, but discussion on such things always seem to presuppose that the normal, smooth functioning of the (political) system is somehow unproblematic and that the criminal transgressions against the system are the problem. I get much more excited about analysis, that explores the underside of what is considered normal. I think the blog does rather well in this respect.

I doubt this blog has much political efficacy for me. I do think that exposure to this blog and to Zizek's thinking has somewhat soured my good faith towards the liberal leftist movement. Maybe this blog has made me more skeptical of capitalism in general.

Anyway, thank you for all your blogging so far, Jodi. I hope to read more from you in the future.


It's a very strange and disquieting time in the blogosphere. The speculative realists have made Badiou and Zizek look a little like they belong to another era. Perhaps the most disquieting was how quickly that happened. Almost within the space of a few months. To me it was really momentous, and made me realise how contingent our attachments are. I don't believe SZ and AB no longer have relevance, but I don't think it is possible to approach anything now as if SR hadn't happened. I just wonder about the politics that will arise from it. Perhaps that will be its biggest test.


Vesa--thanks for your comment (and for reading).

Aidan--that's a good point, if disquieting. Part of the weirdness for me is the fragmentation: previously, I felt a convergence/overlap/commonality in the Badiou/Zizek discussions I encountered in f2f and academic settings with the discussions in the blogosphere. It was rare that I would encounter folks in theory or media spheres without some kind of interest or investment in discussions around Badiou, Zizek, Ranciere, or Agamben. But none of this seems at all current or intense or like it matters on the blogs now. What matters is the SR debate. Yet, I don't find that a lot in f2f/academic circles yet. A qualification: folks have been talking about Latour for a while. And, more and more folks are aware of Meillassoux. But there is still a gap that the SR discussion hasn't crossed. And the weird thing is that you remain completely right that this gap in no way means that those of us aware of the discussion can simply ignore it (which I confess to have been doing but now feel like I need to catch up with...)


Sometimes catching up seems so endless! I'll be very interested to see what you make of it.


Jodi: your blog is great as everyone says. I forget about it for a while but then when I have to write something about democracy or I am thinking about Zizek or just for some reason because your name pops up in my mind, I come back. And it is always worthwhile.

I don't agree that other technologies like Facebook are totally useless (though if anything called for being brought into public ownership it is FB). However the blog is still very worthwhile. And when it ceases to be this is because there will be a technology that is better. And there is not at this time.



...great post...great comments...great blog


hi Jodi,

I can totally relate. One way I've dealt with similar sorts of feelings has been to start paying attention to groups and attempts I'd previously dismissed or been bored by, like Solidarity for example -

or ZNet -


I mean this respectfully, but from reading your blog I wonder if you might not find engaging with this sort of project would provide some satisfaction of a sort that your post says you lack (ugh that's a torturous sentence, sorry). I suspect you wouldn't find engaging with that kind of stuff as intellectually exciting as some other work, but might find it worthwhile in other ways.

take care,

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