Tag: Communism

From the Cybernetic World War towards a Cybernetic Civil War

On an emerging phenomenon in the field of political affairs. On the Road to the Cybernetic World War Energy is essential for the production and movement of “things”. Using an assemblage of machines the industrial revolution exponentially increased the energy available to human society; however, such machinery required human supervision and control to attain its…

The Atmosphere of Revolution?

I want to follow up on a post from last year about the general strike, using the idea of silence as that which binds it together in its negativity (or catastrophe as Sorel would say). As I reread that piece for a book that I’m trying to write about crowds, I realised that one of…

What’s “Left” of Communism? Part II of II


In my last article I was looking at the Left’s current return to communism and that, while the thinkers most often associated with this return are adamant that this is a new and more fluid communism than the communist projects of the 20th century, there are three problematic commonalities that most of them share that…

What’s “Left” of Communism? Part I of II


In his 1980 book The Inoperative Community, Jean-Luc Nancy famously claimed that communism is, “… no longer the unsurpassable horizon of our time.” Three years later Benedict Anderson, in his groundbreaking book Imagined Communities, showed us how alliances based on common identity are much stronger bonds that alliances based on ideology. All of this seemed…

Mao Tse-Tung in Bogota: The Pragmatism of FARC and its Parallel in China


Several analysts of the peace process currently under way in Colombia have overlooked the curious parallel between the guerrilla insurgents’ proposal to establish some 50 Peasant Reserve Zones (ZRCs in their Spanish initials) in the national territory and the policy of ‘one country, two systems’ implemented by the Chinese leadership following the death of Mao.…

Saying ‘We’ Again: A Conversation with Jodi Dean on Democracy, Occupy and Communism


Biebricher & Celikates (‘B&C’): You argue that democracy is so intimately tied up with what you call ‘communicative capitalism’ that every attempt from the left to re-appropriate the term, to give it a more radical meaning and to distinguish it from the electoral regimes of representative democracy has to fail. This seems difficult to accept for many people on the left.

Jodi Dean (‘JD’): There are a couple of reasons why I take this position. First, and most broadly, democracy is not a category of contestation anymore. Right and left agree on democracy and use a democratic rhetoric to justify their positions. George Bush claimed to be defending democracy all over the world by bombing all sorts of people. If that is democracy, then that is not a language that the left can use to formulate an egalitarian and emancipatory potential or hope. A second reason, which is a repercussion of the first one, is that democracy is a kind of ambient milieu, it’s the air we breathe, everything is put in terms of democracy nowadays. And this relates to the third reason: the rhetoric of democracy is particularly strong now in the way in which it is combined with the form of capitalism I call ‘communicative capitalism’, where ideals of inclusion and participation, of making one’s voice heard and one’s opinion known are also used by TMobile and Apple. Participation ends up being the answer to everything. If that’s the case, referring to it is not making a cut with our dominant frame, it’s just reinforcing it. If governments and corporations are encouraging one to participate then leftists don’t add one thing that’s not already present if they say that what we need is to make sure that everyone is participating and included—that’s already what we have. For the left to be able to make a break we have to speak a language that is not already the one we’re in.

Communism, the word: notes for the London conference 2009


The following are the notes that Jean-Luc Nancy prepared for the conference ‘On the Idea of Communism’, March 2009. An edited version is available in Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Zizek (eds), The Idea of Communism (Verso, London 2010) 145–53. Communism, the word. Not the word before the notion, but the word as notion and as historical…