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July 03, 2013


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Yes. It's time to let people like Isaac go their own way, and let new cadres fill their places.


His critique seems to come down to the fact you do not engage with the elements of the Marxist tradition that he finds compelling. These also tend to be the elements that were most critical of actually existing communism in eastern Europe. But you raise what is a key area of contention - the status of democracy. Over the last several years you have insisted that democracy (at least as we currently understand and experience it) is inextricably linked to capitalism. From this you draw the conclusion that it cannot be the path forward for an emancipatory politics.

But people like Isaac (and myself) are devoted to this political form despite its failures. I respect your consistency on this issue and find it challenging. But if not democracy then what? I have not read your communist book yet (it is on my list though)but from the review it sounds like you flesh out a bit more about the formation of a Party, vangardist or otherwise. I look forward to reading it.

Jennifer Ruth

Hi Jodi, I've just started following your work. You refer to "The God That Failed" as a cold war propaganda piece. Have you read it? As it happens, I've been reading it and find some of it quite compelling. Is there anybody's account of engaging-and-then-being-disillusioned-with communism that you feel has anything to offer those of us who think about these issues, any account that has something we might could learn from? Thanks, Jennifer

Jodi Dean

Yes, I've read it. The Richard Wright section is the best -- but it works better in its original context, as part of Black Boy.

An account to learn from: Vivian Gornick, "The Romance of American Communism."

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