[by Matthew Boman]
Jodi Dean calls Communism “the force of an absence and an alternative, as the general field and division of the common, as the subjectification of the gap of desire” (Occupation and the Party). For her, Occupy opens the space and can potentially
provide the momentum for the Party as long as it does not fall under the spell of any of the three paths that, she argues, have been the downfall of the American left: democracy, anarchism, and liberalism.
Democracy she faults because of the impossibilities of it creating any equitable social system or properly responding to our current environmental crisis. This I’m partial to agreeing with, especially given our current political climate—how can one expect a democratic solution these two problems when half the country doesn’t believe that they are problems, and even those who do would not willingly adopt the radical measures necessary to solve either of them?
Dean’s definition of anarchism is very specific and almost synonymous with localism—i.e. self-organization, DIY community organizations, co-ops, and so on. She faults it because she believes that it cannot address large-scale problems, and that it cannot be anything but primitive, backward-looking.
Liberalism she defines as an emphasis on individuality or a fetishization of freedom and rights. While living in China, I heard similar arguments from Maoists upset about the Americanization of their way of life. She laments that discipline has become a bad word within the American left, and says that instead of focusing on individual voices we should be more process oriented, push towards participationism.
As people are asking what happened to Occupy a year after its inception, it might be worth taking Dean’s criticisms and solutions into consideration. Continue reading