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December 13, 2010


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Robert Allen

Great post, would love to have been there.


Great post. But do you really think most of the students protesting wanted anything more than to retain the current education structure? Isn't it simply that the ruling elite is using the economic crisis to extract more from the rest of us? And these protests are an expression of that recognition? I ask because I think you may be right - what is needed is "Seizing the state and taking control of the banks and corporations." And I accept I may be presumptuous but I sincerely don't think most of these kids have this as their goal. So I want them to succeed but ultimately they need the support of the rest of us - they need their parents and the middle class and anyone else to take to the streets with them. I think the current situation needs to spin out of control, millions must take to the street before anything can really change.

Thanks again.


Hi JOdi (tried to send you an email at your uni address). The commenter just above gets at some of the questions we were discussing after your talk. People are organizing/are organized loosely into symbolic outbursts/episodes that signify "No". (It appears that that "No" can possibly become more persuasive/coercive to liberal power when it becomes violent and when LP can't dominate the framing of the violence, as with the protests over the French CPE law, later reversed by the French govt, which had a different outcome compared to recent manifestations against raising the retirement age in France, for example). People organize, occupy space, overload servers, and it often gets mediated fairly clearly as "No." What doesn't get articulated well is "why"? So "No" gets reframed, and it's not clear why those involved in "No" are involved. "Why" is of course a more deliberative politics (liberal?). In any case, the outcomes of such episodes are difficult to understand, aren't they? From afar it looks quite Debordian to me: the spectacle offers its own critique of itself. cheers. Jay

Robert Allen

Nobody knows "why" except the communists; that is what communists are for, to explain what needs to be done (Lenin) as they are the vanguard of class conscious workers. Are there myriad problems associated with that? I think no one can deny that at this point. But I think it helps to stake out a reference point. I feel like a putz bringing this up as I don't have any academic or even "revolutionary" credentials to bolster this claim, just a strong gut feeling based on a lot of reading....I mean, you start out fighting for a right to education and end up questioning what education means under capitalism, through the struggle. Consciousness changes through struggle, but there needs to be a communist around to frame things in terms of class relationships, and we live in a world where the communist hypothesis if you will has been relentlessly discredited and trashed daily right up to this minute-- turn on your radio and within seconds you'll hear somebody bashing communism if you spin the dial right (I figure the communist hypothesis can't be all bad for this reason alone!)
"...not clear why those involved in "No" are involved..", perfect, yes, if we knew why they thought they had a right to an education, enough to make this kind of stink about it, we'd have the key to understanding lots of things. It is something buried under a mountain of ideology, a communist kernel in there if you will....
upon rereading the last post I see it is the "reframing" of "No" that is at issue, the why of why we cant articulate a communist vision that resonates. I suppose all that will percolate up through continued struggle, and what is really liberating is the knowledge that each of us can play a role, the opposite of the Debordian spectacle thing..

Jayson Harsin

No, Robert. You miss the point. The point is that if the critique and affect present in manifestations is to spread and do things like Jodi talks about, take over the banks,etc etc., then the "why" has to be mediated to the millions who are not out there. I have little faith that it will "percolate." There have to be other strategies for getting the critique across. Otherwise, it's just plain naive to think change will happen.

Jodi Dean

I love what Robert writes here. Consciousness changes through struggle--but how it changes, the direction it changes, the different ideas and movements and moments it links together depends, in part, on the strength and viability of the communist hypothesis.

The critical rage and reaction to the bailout of the banks has been associated in the mainstream media with the Tea Party. It didn't have to be that way--it could have been a stronger left moment if there had been a stronger left voice and presence.

Reading the last two comments, I actually have the impression that there is more convergence and agreement than not. "Why" depends on a truth (ala Badiou)--the communist hypothesis is a truth from which an explanation of the crime and the remedy is built.

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