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January 15, 2013


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Hi Jodi. I like this analysis (without having read the article you cite). But I wonder if it still begs the question of leadership - if the intellectual is merely providing suggestions, who or what decides the relevance and efficacy of those suggestions. If the Party is a necessary part of the movement coming to consciousness, coming to know itself for itself, it still needs a structure in order to be more than a fleeting effervescent spark.


What about these sort of umbrella groups like we have here in Iowa, Acorn like groups with wide ranging agendas geared toward lobbying and electoral politics, with a sort of militant veneer? They speak of promoting "environmental and social justice" etc, and try to incorporate labor organizations in their direct action type campaigns. How does this link up with, or approximate, this type of theoretical party structure? Or is it another entity altogether?

Jodi Dean


I agree that the Party needs a structure -- it's not like the Holy Spirit or community of believers distributed; or to be a communist is not the same as being a Christian. So, the Party would then decide the relevance of the intellectual suggestion. I'd also say that now it's readers, activists, interpreters who decide the relevance of intellectual suggestions.

Bob -- I think Acorn would be another entity all together, especially with their focus on lobbying and electoral politics. I tend to think that their focus is not at all on the abolition of capitalism and construction of communism.


I'm going to take one more swipe at this, because I see it as crucial to your discussion of the Party even in your Michels assessment, somehow. On the one hand, you eschew, rightly, the sort of Acorn ish approach to politics-- but that is what Occupy devolved into, where I live. There was nowhere left for militant liberal activists, who, like workers (many of whom ARE workers), do not have an understanding of the communist stakes and that is why intellectual work is necessary (but not from the "outside" of class struggle). The problem is we have "the people" wanting to fight, but being stymied by the petit bourgeois structure (you also eschew that term as outmoded)of the non communist organizations who cling to electoralism...yet there is a post Occupy militancy...how can this energy be channeled? Is it all for naught when we realize that a communist party cannot arise from simple liberal militancy? I think occupy's failure was that it was not rooted in the working class, and the petit bourgeois do gooders organizations will fail for the same reason. Yet you were optimistic about the possibility of Occupy to be a prototypical party like organization...I guess what I'm asking, is it reasonable to presume that in struggle, communist consciousness will develop or is it only within the context of an already determined communist party that such struggle would affect consciousness? I'm thinking of how my SWP friends doing strike support place emphasis on the act of striking rather than the backwardness of the striker's individual politics, as they are just beginning their journey toward class consciousness... can this happen with the post Occupy militant liberals involved in Acorn like direct actions? Do we have to decide want we want is communism before we even turn a wheel?



Jodi Dean

Thanks for the comments, Bob. I haven't had a chance to respond thoughtfully. I really want to think about what you've written. I'll try to respond in a day or so.

Jodi Dean

Bob -- you ask: "is it reasonable to presume that in struggle, communist consciousness will develop or is it only within the context of an already determined communist party that such struggle would affect consciousness." Maybe the answer is both? So, it shouldn't be posed as an alternative or choice?

I take you to be suggesting that militant liberals don't produce communists. That seems exactly right to me.

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