Jodi Dean

American political theorist and professor

Jodi Dean (born April 9, 1962) is an American political theorist and professor in the Political Science department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York state. She has held the position of Erasmus Professor of the Humanities in the Faculty of Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Jodi Dean in 2017

Quotes edit

  • Millennials are the first generation of US Americans to have life prospects worse than their parents. The astronomical student debt load means that many young people put off the major purchases and life events linked to adulthood in the US -- buying a car or a house, getting married. At the same time, in highly populated cities like San Francisco, LA, Seattle, and NYC, rents are out of control. And we don’t have national healthcare. So paying for the basics of everyday life has become impossible. And we are told repeatedly that social security is in crisis and won’t survive. As one young person told me: 'My retirement program is socialism'.

The Communist Horizon (2012) edit

The Communist Horizon. Verso Books, 2012. ISBN 978-1786635525
Pursued through policies of privatization, deregulation, and financialization, and buttressed by an ideology of private property, free markets, and free trade, neoliberalism has entailed cuts in taxes for the rich and cuts in protections and benefits for workers and the poor, resulting in an exponential increase in inequality.
  • The communist horizon appears closer than it has in a long time. The illusion that capitalism works has been shattered by all manner of economic an financial disaster – and we see it everywhere. The fantasy that democracy exerts a force for economic justice has dissolved as the US government funnels trillions of dollars to banks and the European central banks rig national governments and cut social programs in order to keep themselves afloat. With our desiring eyes set on the communist horizon, we can now get to work on collectively shaping a world that we already make in common.
    • Introduction, p. 21
  • Precisely because the Soviet Union adopted "the capitalist heavy-industry definition of economic modernization," socialism remained caught within a very specific capitalist model of economic development. The Soviets did not reconstruct American capitalism. They glorified it. (Indeed, for some Soviets, Henry Ford was as close to a saint as one could get.)
    • Our Soviets, p. 27
  • Against the background of communist = Soviet = Stalinist, two interlocking stories of the collapse of communism predominate. The first is that communism collapsed under its own weight: it was so inefficient, people were so miserable, life was so stagnant, that the system came to a grinding halt. It failed. Linked to Stalinism, the story of failure features chapters on famine, purges and terror. Like most ideological constructions, it's not quite coherent: it neglects the fact that the Stalin period was also a period in which the US and the USSR were allies. In the era most exemplary of the Soviet Union's injustice and illegitimacy, the period when the USSR was present not as a failed state but a strong one, the US was closer to the regime than at any other time in its history. The second, related, story of the collapse of communism is that it was defeated. We beat them. We won. Capitalism and liberal democracy (the elision is necessary) demonstrated their superiority on the world stage. Freedom triumphed over tyranny. The details of this victory matter less than the ostensible undeniability. After all, there is no Soviet Union anymore.
    • Our Soviets, p. 31
  • The Right positions communism as a threat because communism names the defeat of and alternative to capitalism. It recognizes the crisis in capitalism: over-accumulation leaves the rich sitting on piles of cash they can't invest; industrial capacity remains unused and workers unemployed; global interconnections make unneeded skyscrapers, fiber-optic cables, malls, and housing developments as much a part of China as the US. At the same time, scores of significant problems – whether food shortages linked to climate change, energy shortages resulting from oil dependency, or drug shortages resulting from the failure of private pharmaceutical companies to risk their own capital – remain unmet because they require the kinds of large-scale planning and cooperation that capitalism, particularly in its contemporary finance and communications-driven incarnation, subverts.
    • Present Force, pp. 51-52
  • The contemporary Left claims not to exist. Whereas the Right sees left-wing threats everywhere, those on the Left eschew any use of the term "we," emphasizing issue politics, identity politics, and their own fragmentation into a multitude of singularities.
    • Present Force, p. 53
  • Although the contemporary Left might seem to agree with the mainstream story of communism's failure – it doesn't work, where "it" holds a place for a wide variety of unspecified political endeavors – the language of failure covers over a more dangerous, anxiety-provoking idea – communism succeeded. The Left isn't afraid of failure, it is afraid of success, the successful mobilization of the energy and rage of the people. Leftists really fear the bloody violence of revolution, and hence they focus on displacing anger into safer procedural, consumerist, and aesthetic channels. As Peter Hallward emphasizes, the legacy of anti-Jacobinism is a preference for the condemnation of some kinds of violence but not others: leftists join democrats, liberals, and conservatives in denouncing the revolutionary Terror while they virtually ignore the "far more bloody repression of the 1871 Commune." Even those who see themselves as part of some open and varied constellation of the Left condemn the violence of the people against those who would oppress them. State violence and the force of counterrevolution is taken for granted, assumed, cloaked in a prior legitimacy or presumed to be justified in the interest of order.
    • Present Force, pp. 58-59
  • Neoliberalism designates a particular strategy of class domination that uses the state to promote certain competitive dynamics for the benefit of the very rich. In Duménil's and Lévy's words, "Neoliberalism is a new stage of capitalism that emerged in the wake of the structural crisis of the 1970s. It expresses the strategy of the capitalist classes in alliance with upper management, specifically financial managers, intending to strengthen their hegemony and expand it globally." Less a strategy for production than for the transfer of wealth to the very rich, neoliberalism places the "need of money . . . over those of production." Pursued through policies of privatization, deregulation, and financialization, and buttressed by an ideology of private property, free markets, and free trade, neoliberalism has entailed cuts in taxes for the rich and cuts in protections and benefits for workers and the poor, resulting in an exponential increase in inequality.
    • Common and Commons, pp. 122-123
  • September 2011 shattered the ideology of an invincible Wall Street much as September 2001 shattered the illusion of an invulnerable United States. All of a sudden and seemingly out of the blue, people outraged by the fact that "banks got bailed out" and "we got sold out" installed themselves in the financial heart of New York City. Occupying the symbol of capitalist class power, they ruptured it. The ostensible controllers of the global capitalist system, still reeling from the crash of 2008, appeared to have lost control over their own cement neighborhood. Hippies with tents and cops with barricades had turned Lower Manhattan into a chaotic mess. Those seeking to combine the people's work, debts, hopes, and futures into speculative instruments for private profit confronted a visible and actual collective counterforce. There in the power of the people where investment banks and hedge funds had already identified an enormous social surplus, a cadre of the newly active located an inexhaustible political potential. It was like a giant hole had been opened up in the steel and glass citadel of the financial class. Through it, traders, brokers, and market-makers – as well as everybody else – could see the possibility of a world without capitalism. Wall Street was occupied.
    • Occupation and the Party, pp. 211-212

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