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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

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5

Communism is also the name for the positive alternative to capitalism’s permanent and expanding exploitation, crisis, and immiseration, the name of a system of production based on meeting social needs—from each according to ability to each according to need, to paraphrase Marx’s famous slogan—in a way that is collectively determined and carried out by the producers. This positive dimension of communism attends to social relations, to how people treat each other, animals, things, and the world around them. Building communism entails more than resistance and riot. It requires the emancipated egalitarian organization of collective life.

—p.5 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Communism is also the name for the positive alternative to capitalism’s permanent and expanding exploitation, crisis, and immiseration, the name of a system of production based on meeting social needs—from each according to ability to each according to need, to paraphrase Marx’s famous slogan—in a way that is collectively determined and carried out by the producers. This positive dimension of communism attends to social relations, to how people treat each other, animals, things, and the world around them. Building communism entails more than resistance and riot. It requires the emancipated egalitarian organization of collective life.

—p.5 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago
7

The comrade relation remakes the place from which one sees, what it is possible to see, and what possibilities can appear. It enables the revaluation of work and time, what one does, and for whom one does it. Is one’s work done for the people or for the bosses? Is it voluntary or done because one has to work? Does one work for personal provisions or for a collective good? We should recall Marx’s lyrical description of communism in which work becomes “life’s prime want.” We get a glimpse of that in comradeship: one wants to do political work. You don’t want to let down your comrades; you see the value of your work through their eyes, your new collective eyes. Work, determined not by markets but by shared commitments, becomes fulfilling. French communist philosopher and militant Bernard Aspe discusses the problem of contemporary capitalism as a loss of “common time”; that is, the loss of an experience of time generated and enjoyed through our collective being-together.10 From holidays, to meals, to breaks, whatever common time we have is synchronized and enclosed in forms for capitalist appropriation. Communicative capitalism’s apps and trackers amplify this process such that the time of consumption can be measured in much the same way that Taylorism measured the time of production: How long did a viewer spend on a particular web page? Did a person watch a whole ad or click off of it after five seconds? In contrast, the common action that is the actuality of communist movement induces a collective change in capacities. Breaking from capitalism’s 24-7 injunctions to produce and consume for the bosses and owners, the discipline of common struggle expands possibilities for action and intensifies the sense of its necessity. The comrade is a figure for the relation through which this transformation of work and time occurs.

—p.7 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

The comrade relation remakes the place from which one sees, what it is possible to see, and what possibilities can appear. It enables the revaluation of work and time, what one does, and for whom one does it. Is one’s work done for the people or for the bosses? Is it voluntary or done because one has to work? Does one work for personal provisions or for a collective good? We should recall Marx’s lyrical description of communism in which work becomes “life’s prime want.” We get a glimpse of that in comradeship: one wants to do political work. You don’t want to let down your comrades; you see the value of your work through their eyes, your new collective eyes. Work, determined not by markets but by shared commitments, becomes fulfilling. French communist philosopher and militant Bernard Aspe discusses the problem of contemporary capitalism as a loss of “common time”; that is, the loss of an experience of time generated and enjoyed through our collective being-together.10 From holidays, to meals, to breaks, whatever common time we have is synchronized and enclosed in forms for capitalist appropriation. Communicative capitalism’s apps and trackers amplify this process such that the time of consumption can be measured in much the same way that Taylorism measured the time of production: How long did a viewer spend on a particular web page? Did a person watch a whole ad or click off of it after five seconds? In contrast, the common action that is the actuality of communist movement induces a collective change in capacities. Breaking from capitalism’s 24-7 injunctions to produce and consume for the bosses and owners, the discipline of common struggle expands possibilities for action and intensifies the sense of its necessity. The comrade is a figure for the relation through which this transformation of work and time occurs.

—p.7 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago
9

[...] In his memoir Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid, the theorist Frank Wilderson, a former member of uMkhonto weSizwe, or MK, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), describes his first meeting with Chris Hani, the leader of the South African Communist Party and the chief of staff of MK. Wilderson writes, “I beamed like a schoolboy when he called me ‘comrade.’” Wilderson chides himself for what he calls a “childish need for recognition.” Perhaps because he still puts Hani on a pedestal, he feels exposed in his enjoyment of the egalitarian disruption of comradeship. Wilderson hasn’t yet internalized the idea that he and Hani are political equals. “Comrade” holds out an equalizing promise, and when that promise is fulfilled, we confront our own continuing yet unwanted attachments to hierarchy, prestige, inadequacy. Accepting equality takes courage.

—p.9 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

[...] In his memoir Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid, the theorist Frank Wilderson, a former member of uMkhonto weSizwe, or MK, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), describes his first meeting with Chris Hani, the leader of the South African Communist Party and the chief of staff of MK. Wilderson writes, “I beamed like a schoolboy when he called me ‘comrade.’” Wilderson chides himself for what he calls a “childish need for recognition.” Perhaps because he still puts Hani on a pedestal, he feels exposed in his enjoyment of the egalitarian disruption of comradeship. Wilderson hasn’t yet internalized the idea that he and Hani are political equals. “Comrade” holds out an equalizing promise, and when that promise is fulfilled, we confront our own continuing yet unwanted attachments to hierarchy, prestige, inadequacy. Accepting equality takes courage.

—p.9 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago
13

The opposition between survivors and systems gives us a left devoid of politics. Both tendencies render class struggle—the divisive struggle over common conditions on behalf of an emancipatory egalitarian future—unintelligible. In the place of the political struggle of the proletarianized, we have the fragmenting assertion of particularity, of unique survival, and an obsession with the encroaching, unavoidable impossibility of survival. Politics is effaced in the impasse of individualized survivability under conditions of generalized non-survival, of extinction.

survivors described earlier as those who 'struggle to persist in conditions of unlivability rather than to seize and transform these conditions'

—p.13 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

The opposition between survivors and systems gives us a left devoid of politics. Both tendencies render class struggle—the divisive struggle over common conditions on behalf of an emancipatory egalitarian future—unintelligible. In the place of the political struggle of the proletarianized, we have the fragmenting assertion of particularity, of unique survival, and an obsession with the encroaching, unavoidable impossibility of survival. Politics is effaced in the impasse of individualized survivability under conditions of generalized non-survival, of extinction.

survivors described earlier as those who 'struggle to persist in conditions of unlivability rather than to seize and transform these conditions'

—p.13 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago
15

[...] In a context theorized as post-political and postdemocratic, the personal—what the individual experiences, feels, and risks—has turned into the privileged site of political engagement. Given neoliberalism’s subjection of public and political practices and institutions to market demands this is not surprising. But what the left has claimed as a victory is the symptom of its defeat: the erosion of working-class political power and the accompanying decay of its political parties. The claim that the term comrade doesn’t ring true is thus more symptomatic than it is descriptive. It attests to a situation that has to be changed, a problem that needs to be solved, and an organization that must be built.

When identity is all that is left, hanging on to it can be a sensible response. At the very least—and against all odds—one survives. But as Silva discovered in her interviews with working-class adults, people can become so attached to their identity as survivors that they lack the capacity to criticize and challenge the conditions under which they are forced to struggle. Because these conditions, generally those of racialized patriarchal capitalism, are taken for granted, figured as either contingent or immutable, survival itself appears as the real political achievement. [...]

—p.15 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

[...] In a context theorized as post-political and postdemocratic, the personal—what the individual experiences, feels, and risks—has turned into the privileged site of political engagement. Given neoliberalism’s subjection of public and political practices and institutions to market demands this is not surprising. But what the left has claimed as a victory is the symptom of its defeat: the erosion of working-class political power and the accompanying decay of its political parties. The claim that the term comrade doesn’t ring true is thus more symptomatic than it is descriptive. It attests to a situation that has to be changed, a problem that needs to be solved, and an organization that must be built.

When identity is all that is left, hanging on to it can be a sensible response. At the very least—and against all odds—one survives. But as Silva discovered in her interviews with working-class adults, people can become so attached to their identity as survivors that they lack the capacity to criticize and challenge the conditions under which they are forced to struggle. Because these conditions, generally those of racialized patriarchal capitalism, are taken for granted, figured as either contingent or immutable, survival itself appears as the real political achievement. [...]

—p.15 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago
20

The process of educating oneself is isolating, individuating. Learning is modeled as consuming information, not as discussion; coming to a common understanding; or studying the texts and documents of a political tradition. Educating oneself is disconnected from a collective critical practice, detached from political positions or goals. Criteria according to which one might evaluate books, blogs, speakers, and videos are absent. It’s up to the individual ally to figure it out on their own. In effect, there is punishment without discipline. The would-be ally can be scolded and shamed, even as the scolder is relieved of any responsibility to provide concrete guidance and training (let’s be clear, just telling someone to “Google it” is an empty gesture). Once we recall that “ally” is not a term of address—it doesn’t replace “Mr.,” “Ms.,” “Dr.,” or “Professor”; the term ally appears more to designate a limit, suggesting that you will never be one of us, than it does to enable solidarity. The relation between allies and those they are allies for, or to, is between those with separate interests, experiences, and practices.

—p.20 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

The process of educating oneself is isolating, individuating. Learning is modeled as consuming information, not as discussion; coming to a common understanding; or studying the texts and documents of a political tradition. Educating oneself is disconnected from a collective critical practice, detached from political positions or goals. Criteria according to which one might evaluate books, blogs, speakers, and videos are absent. It’s up to the individual ally to figure it out on their own. In effect, there is punishment without discipline. The would-be ally can be scolded and shamed, even as the scolder is relieved of any responsibility to provide concrete guidance and training (let’s be clear, just telling someone to “Google it” is an empty gesture). Once we recall that “ally” is not a term of address—it doesn’t replace “Mr.,” “Ms.,” “Dr.,” or “Professor”; the term ally appears more to designate a limit, suggesting that you will never be one of us, than it does to enable solidarity. The relation between allies and those they are allies for, or to, is between those with separate interests, experiences, and practices.

—p.20 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago
21

So rather than bridging political identities or articulating a politics that moves beyond identity, allyship is a symptom of the displacement of politics into the individualist self-help techniques and social media moralism of communicative capitalism. The underlying vision is of self-oriented individuals, politics as possession, transformation reduced to attitudinal change, and a fixed, naturalized sphere of privilege and oppression. Anchored in a view of identity as the primary vector of politics, the emphasis on allies displaces attention away from strategic organizational and tactical questions and onto prior attitudinal litmus tests, from the start precluding the collectivity necessary for revolutionary left politics. Of course, those on the left need allies. Sometimes it is necessary to forge temporary alliances in order to advance. A struggle with communism as its horizon will involve an array of tactical alliances among different classes, sectors, and tendencies. But provisional allies focused on their own interests are not the same as comrades—although they might become comrades. My critique of the ally as the symptom and limit of contemporary identity politics should thus not be taken as a rejection of practices of alliance in the course of political struggle. That would be absurd. I am rejecting allyship as the form and model for struggles against oppression, immiseration, dispossession, and exploitation.

—p.21 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

So rather than bridging political identities or articulating a politics that moves beyond identity, allyship is a symptom of the displacement of politics into the individualist self-help techniques and social media moralism of communicative capitalism. The underlying vision is of self-oriented individuals, politics as possession, transformation reduced to attitudinal change, and a fixed, naturalized sphere of privilege and oppression. Anchored in a view of identity as the primary vector of politics, the emphasis on allies displaces attention away from strategic organizational and tactical questions and onto prior attitudinal litmus tests, from the start precluding the collectivity necessary for revolutionary left politics. Of course, those on the left need allies. Sometimes it is necessary to forge temporary alliances in order to advance. A struggle with communism as its horizon will involve an array of tactical alliances among different classes, sectors, and tendencies. But provisional allies focused on their own interests are not the same as comrades—although they might become comrades. My critique of the ally as the symptom and limit of contemporary identity politics should thus not be taken as a rejection of practices of alliance in the course of political struggle. That would be absurd. I am rejecting allyship as the form and model for struggles against oppression, immiseration, dispossession, and exploitation.

—p.21 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago
22

If we recognize that the attachment to individual identity is the form of our political incapacity, we can acquire new capacities for action, the collective capacities of those on the same side of a struggle. We can become more than allies who are concerned with defending our own individual identity and lecturing others on what they must do to aid us in this defense. We can become comrades struggling together to change the world. I thus agree with Mark Fisher’s crucial reminder: “We need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital’s work for it by condemning and abusing each other.”

Where the ally is hierarchical, specific, and acquiescent, the comrade is egalitarian, generic, and utopian. The egalitarian and generic dimensions of comrade are what make it utopian, what enable the relation between comrades to cut through the determinations of the everyday (which is another way of saying capitalist social relations). [...]

—p.22 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

If we recognize that the attachment to individual identity is the form of our political incapacity, we can acquire new capacities for action, the collective capacities of those on the same side of a struggle. We can become more than allies who are concerned with defending our own individual identity and lecturing others on what they must do to aid us in this defense. We can become comrades struggling together to change the world. I thus agree with Mark Fisher’s crucial reminder: “We need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital’s work for it by condemning and abusing each other.”

Where the ally is hierarchical, specific, and acquiescent, the comrade is egalitarian, generic, and utopian. The egalitarian and generic dimensions of comrade are what make it utopian, what enable the relation between comrades to cut through the determinations of the everyday (which is another way of saying capitalist social relations). [...]

—p.22 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago
32

[...] the party’s theoretical journal, The Communist, published a critique of the idea that housework is productive labor, even though it didn’t mention Inman by name. The author Avram Landy observes that of course housework is useful labor, but Marxism-Leninism is not a theory of the usefulness of labor for the capitalist system; it’s a theory of the exploitation of labor. From this angle, housework needs to be understood as drudgery, as part of a condition women face that must and can be changed. Landy further asserts that a housewife’s right to make demands “does not stem from her ‘usefulness’ but from her character as a human being, a member of the working class and toiling population who is oppressed and subjugated. It is this oppressed and subjugated status that is the sole source of her ‘right’ to make demands.” Inman resigned from the party.

i mean we can quibble about the definition of 'productive' (and its associated value judgments) but this seems like a reasonable position to me tbh (even though i recognize that the author is specifically trying to make this case)

—p.32 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

[...] the party’s theoretical journal, The Communist, published a critique of the idea that housework is productive labor, even though it didn’t mention Inman by name. The author Avram Landy observes that of course housework is useful labor, but Marxism-Leninism is not a theory of the usefulness of labor for the capitalist system; it’s a theory of the exploitation of labor. From this angle, housework needs to be understood as drudgery, as part of a condition women face that must and can be changed. Landy further asserts that a housewife’s right to make demands “does not stem from her ‘usefulness’ but from her character as a human being, a member of the working class and toiling population who is oppressed and subjugated. It is this oppressed and subjugated status that is the sole source of her ‘right’ to make demands.” Inman resigned from the party.

i mean we can quibble about the definition of 'productive' (and its associated value judgments) but this seems like a reasonable position to me tbh (even though i recognize that the author is specifically trying to make this case)

—p.32 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago
34

Perhaps, though, the forgetting of comrade women is symptomatic. Perhaps it grows out of a fear of losing what is most precious and unique. Differently put, the critical gesture toward comrade’s suspected masculinity may not be about masculinity at all. It may actually express a fear about the loss of individual specificity. We have to confront this fear: Comrade insists on the equalizing sameness that comes from fighting on the same side of a political struggle. It ruptures the everyday world with the challenge of egalitarian modes of acting and belonging. It liberates comrades from the constraining expectations of the identities inscribed on and demanded of us by patriarchal racial capitalism. You will encounter hatred and bigotry in everyday life, but with your comrades you should be able to expect something more, something better. [...]

—p.34 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Perhaps, though, the forgetting of comrade women is symptomatic. Perhaps it grows out of a fear of losing what is most precious and unique. Differently put, the critical gesture toward comrade’s suspected masculinity may not be about masculinity at all. It may actually express a fear about the loss of individual specificity. We have to confront this fear: Comrade insists on the equalizing sameness that comes from fighting on the same side of a political struggle. It ruptures the everyday world with the challenge of egalitarian modes of acting and belonging. It liberates comrades from the constraining expectations of the identities inscribed on and demanded of us by patriarchal racial capitalism. You will encounter hatred and bigotry in everyday life, but with your comrades you should be able to expect something more, something better. [...]

—p.34 by Jodi Dean 2 months, 4 weeks ago