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October 13, 2011


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Robert Allen


I'd like to see you fire back against this criticism of you but won't blame you if you didn't bother considering the source, a guy who wimped out of the Socialist Worker's Party's 70's industrial turn (a turn which I never made cuz I never joined, but I do support the party warts and all-- and besides I've always already been an industrial worker but that's beside the point)and has spent the rest of his life grousing about it from his perch at a Columbia University IT department. Not that he isn't worth reading though...

Jodi Dean

Thanks for the link, Bob.

The weird thing is that he doesn't criticize me much at all, despite the fact that he says he is going to. So, he does't say why my diagnosis is wrong, he just says he looks at it differently and provides a different solution. He writes:

"My RX for combatting melancholia is victories, no matter how minor, against the bourgeoisie. To achieve such victories, it will require strategy and tactics that Malcolm X once described as “designed to get meaningful immediate results”. Such actions are surely aided by a solid analysis of the relationship of class forces that can only be derived by a study of bourgeois society such as the kind found in classical Marxism and not Frankfurt-inspired philosophizing, I am afraid."

This isn't an analysis--no melancholia here, or if there is a melancholia, it is not that of those who are fighting and achieving victories. That's fine with me--the first half of my paper is about those who gave up and conceded (even if they don't want to admit it to themselves). I say that they feel guilty about this and that this is why they are self-hating (in other words, it's good for leftists who gave in to the ideology of 'no alternative' to capitalism to feel guilty--they should not have given up). So, I describe a failure of the left and the feelings surrounding that failure, and then I note that even this 'structure of feeling' or structure of desire is changing now (in good and bad ways). From his writing, Louis has remained committed and has no time for those who gave up. To my mind, the giving up is part of the structure of bourgeois society, a crucial component of the capitalism we live in now (super weak left fails to exert political pressure, ruling class gets away with cutting taxes, deregulation, privatization, pressures on unions, etc). Not all Marxists, socialists, and communists find the same language/categories useful. Some think that we can learn from the Frankfurt school, particularly about matters of culture. Some think we can learn from psychoanalysis, particularly about unconscious attachments, structures of desires, capture in drive. Some think we learn from Mao, about contradictions and contexts. And some find that they learn the most from classical Marxism. Since I am interested in ideology critique and since mass culture (and technology) has changed a lot since the age of classical Marxism, I think that texts/discussions/approaches beyond 'classical Marxism' can also be useful for analyzing how capital gets a hold of us and how hard it is to smash it.

Thijs Witty

Will there be transcripts or recordings of the lectures posted online? I would love to hear/read all of this.

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