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January 26, 2011


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The corporation as person and the concept of money as free speech are both things, I would think, that an engaged political theory could stand to theorize. Have there been articles or papers in the wake of the "Citizens United" decision that address this wholesale purchase of public opinion, situating it in relation to theories of representation or discourse?

Seems to me this is a ripe subject for those analyzing the cultural dynamics of neoliberalism, its saturation of our most banal, day-to-day transactions with the logic of exchange and monetary value.


I really like this post. And I assume you are asking yourself the same question: What sort of radical theory (and politics) do tenured professors engage in? Haven't radicals been tolerated in the academy because it is a place where they can do no real harm? Generally I have always thought that if all points of view are indulged, it leaves no space for truth.

Jodi Dean

DC--I don't know of any specific papers (although as editor of Theory & Event I certainly hope to see some)

Alain--thanks and absolutely. Lenin and his cohort weren't college professors, after all.

On the one hand, during the McCarthy era it really was dangerous to be a Marxist. People had to sign loyalty oaths or lose their jobs or get black-listed in advance. These days it is different. In some situations, people doing radical theory get channeled into safe zones--so, they don't get hired in philosophy departments but are in literature. Political Science is a very conservative field over all--really excellent people don't get the jobs one would expect; they might remain in second tier schools or get shuttled into departments outside their primary area. One vehicle for this: methods debates that have tried to make political science look like economics (terrible aspiration) and use lots of numbers; or, in political theory, a limited understanding of the field in terms of liberal theory. So increasingly 'radicals' are weeded out--discouraged from going to graduate school, discouraged from working in radical areas, etc.

Also, it's interesting that 'radical' thinkers may get invited for all sorts of speaking invitations but still be outside the big schools. But maybe this is as it should be--each step toward inclusion higher in the food train is a greater 'embourgeoisment'.

That said, I absolutely agree with you that the indulgence of all views excludes/forecloses truth.

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