In a December interview, Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean, who holds the Donald R. Harter ’39 Professorship of the Humanities and Social Sciences, discusses the origins and theories behind her most recent book, “Crowds and Party,” the failures of a politics focused on the individual rather than the group, and the need for the left “to think again about the political form and organize itself as a party.”
In the interview’s first part, broadcast on the New York City-area program “Arts Express” on WBAI, Dean discusses the crowd as not just a composite of individuals but “a being itself, the force of the many as they cohere for a little bit.” She suggests that the left should embrace the crowd to “keep that power alive…[to] give a kind of credence to the disruptive egalitarian energy of the many.”
Listen to the first part of the interview. Part II will be available in January.
In “Crowds and Party” (2016, Verso Books), Dean argues for a vision of leftist politics with a renewed focus on the political party as a vehicle for lasting change. Building on the work of her previous book, “The Communist Horizon,” which learns from and critically engages the Occupy movement, Dean remains concerned with the political organization of the radical left but takes the issue further in “Crowds and Party,” arguing that the “left needs to return to the party as a form for radical political action. So enough of identity, issues, and momentary events; we need a politics that can actually endure.”
In the first chapters of the new book, Dean offers a critique of individualism and the legacy of the 20th century, and the barriers they impose on collective action. “Crowds and Party” also continues her work surrounding the concept of “communicative capitalism,” with a focus on the promises and shortcomings of social me
Dean, who has taught at HWS since 1993, is the author or editor of 12 books, including “Blog Theory” and “Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies.”