Crowds and Party by Jodi Dean




Crowds and Party by Jodi Dean is a fascinating must read for anyone interested in how political change happens, and what the left must do now. In this book, Professor Dean talks about those “beautiful moments” that have happened throughout history—think The Paris Commune and Occupy Wall Street—where The Crowd has created a disruption in the usual fabric of capitalist society. But those “beautiful moments” are short-lived, ephemeral, and seem to disappear into forgotten hope. How can a movement hold onto and build on these precious historical moments? Jodi Dean tackles crowd theory and the concept of a working people’s political party, reviews the relevant literature, and presents her analysis in her new book, Crowds and Party.

The book is not always easy reading, so I was happy to have the opportunity to engage in a spirited conversation with Professor Dean, broadcast on WBAI 99.5 FM NY radio yesterday on the Arts Express program. Dean was so interesting that we decided to do two parts to the interview, broadcast one week after the other.

You can listen to Part One by clicking on the grey triangle above.

Click Here for Part Two.

4 thoughts on “Crowds and Party by Jodi Dean

  1. Hi Jack,

    That is a fascinating interview. But I had to listen twice–and to some parts three or four times–to figure out it was that she was doing and what was happening. What I had trouble with was the terminology she uses. She is approaching the issue of the class struggle dealing it almost totally externally from the terminology applied or invented by Marx and interpreting it or transposing it to the level of sociology. That is why I had to do a lot of double-takes or triple takes to figure out what she meant. I missed what her field is. But she is obviously deep into sociology and social theory type of fields and seems to have arrived at her conclusions about the dynamic of “crowds” without having really read any Marx or Lenin, etc. and externally from history. It is as if she has “discovered” this thing which is materially real–the class struggle–by coming at it from an empirical perspective alone. I agree with her conclusions I think. But is It is a very strange set of arguments and a very unusual way of getting there.

    I look forward to hearing Part II!!

    Thanks for that!! It is really intriguing.

  2. She definitely has read Marx and Lenin and a whole lot more. But she also likes to integrate a lot of modern theorists, as well as her own ideas. In this part of the interview, since we focused on “crowds,” she necessarily relies on many sociologists.

    And to be fair to Ms. Dean, remember this segment is twice removed from her book, and so necessarily leaves out much. I say twice removed, because first there was the raw interview about the book, and then there is this edited version of the raw material. There was lots I had to leave out. So if it doesn’t seem to flow well, that’s my fault.

    Maybe when you hear the second part, her overall viewpoint will become more clear. I am sure that someone like yourself with more of a background in Marxist theory than myself could have brought the interview to another level.

    See, that’s why you need to do the show we’ve been talking about. 🙂

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