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September 21, 2010


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Thank you for posting this and linking to a copy that is accessible. I immediately thought that the Republicans in Congress have subscribed to the same policy again the US economy: "Make the economy Scream." Of course the bizarre twist is that we have Democratic leaders who are far too cautious and are still painted as socialists.

As to the question of violence - what would the efficacy of violence be today in the US? Wouldn't it have to be on a scale that is unimaginable given the catatonic state of most Americans? I certainly agree with Comrade Zizek that the use of violence is ultimately a strategic consideration - but in the US today what does this mean?

Jodi Dean

Alain--well, it could mean, for starters, not to let liberals who immediately dismiss communism as a failed path get the upper hand, for starters. and it could be a way to push progressives away from the can't we all just get along crap.

harder options: what would it mean for a left politics on guns? that's typically a right-libertarian view.

what would it mean for left approaches to black box anarchists and those who push demonstrations in more violent directions? it could mean standing with them rather than joining in criticism. it could mean thinking strategically about the use of violence--blowing up large corporate agricultural centers, being willing to bring down networks.

it's tricky though. I need to look back at my history, but my best recollection is that lots of the left violence in Europe in the seventies was ineffective, symptomatic of left diminution and exhaustion rather than power. it's also pretty easy for the least well off to get caught in the field of violence (say, night workers in the above mentioned ag centers). But what about something like coordinated occupations of city halls or malls or local television stations, occupations in say 20-30 cities at the same time? I don't think those would themselves be the revolution--but they would be training grounds for organization, opportunities to build a sense of possibility, a different kind of yes we can--yes we are.

it's sorta interesting that this is the time of these cable media organized demonstrations on the Washington mall. what would happen if that wall of people proceeded to Capital Hill or the White House and wouldn't move, if they stayed there like a silent wall until troops came in, if they fought back against the troops?


As always, thank you for the thoughtful response. But what immediately strikes in what you say is that co-ordinated, well planned simultaneous occupations would probably be more effective. And I guess you are suggesting (maybe not, I am not sure) that those who participate may need guns to execute the plan.

In regards to your last comment, I am very surprised that Glenn Beck didn't lead his group down to the White House and demand the muslim worshipping, Kenyan born, President resign immediately. And wouldn't expect such a group to violently resist being forcible removed? It would seem well suited for a right wing version of the movie Network - aren't all of these middle aged and elderly white people angry? It would seem they would be willing to do anything in order to "take their country back."

I do not categorically renounce violence - it would seem foolish to ever rule it out ahead of time. But strategically it would seem to me that at this moment if the left were to use violence in some sort of systematic way the reaction from the both the right and the state itself would be overwhelming and conclusive.

Jodi Dean

You are right--out and out left violence would be ineffective. The reaction would be conclusive--and that is the best argument for pursuing lots and lots of other means.

So why didn't GB lead the group? Because Fox/Murdoch need a reasonably stable financial/social setting? And then the question could be does the first that crosses the line lose? That side has demonstrated its failure to persuade/capture hearts and minds and so has had to resort to violence? Or, are we at a point where the disconnect between Washington and the rest of us (in all the disagreement, hatred, and fury) is at an unbearable impasse?


I think the last question you pose is among the most urgent - Is the disconnect between the ruling class and the rest of us at an unbearable impasse? I go back and forth on this question - it would seem the tea party incorporated crowd would calm down if the Repulicans were in controll of the government again. Not much would really change, but their hyperbolic fear would probably ease up if not be eliminated.

But in a more fundamental sense it would seem the debates about a higher level of "structural unemployment" (and a continuation of the forclosure crisis) reflect a general lack of empathy for the desperation millions of people are facing. How can a democratic president allow Fannie and Freddie plow through tens of thousands of forclosures per month. In fact, I just read that number of forclosures has actually excellerated in recent months. What can our leaders be thinking? That people must a pay the price for "irresponsible borrowing?"

Can anyone really believe this shit anymore?

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