Repetition compulsion

A quote from the first page of Jodi Dean’s Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies (2009):

The end of the Bush administration and the crisis in capitalism confronting the world economy are opportunities not simply for reflecting on the bankruptcy of conservatism but also for addressing the yet more significant failures of the left. They present opportunities, in other words, for confronting the ways that the true believers in the Republican message were actually leftists and Democrats. For many of us on the American left, the election of 2000 indicated less a divided populace than it did the consolidation of conservative hegemony. We read George W. bush’s assumption of the presidency as exposing the underlying truth of the country, despite the fact Al Gore won the popular vote and the election’s outcome rested with the Supreme Court. A Bush presidency seemed inevitable, almost foreordained. Trapped in what appeared as one enormous red state and overlooking the pervasive blue and purple, we wallowed in our misery. That over half the voters did not want Bush somehow seemed unimportant. That the Republicans remained significantly behind the democrats with respect to voters’ party identification barely registered. We were convinced that the country was Republican, conservative, capitalist, Christian fundamentalist, and evangelical (as if these were all the same). It’s almost as if we believed in their strength and unity, their power and influence, more than they did themselves. So we submitted to what we loudly lamented as our worst nightmare. We turned a split election into the fact, the victory, of conservatism.

Hedging communism

Yesterday Interccect hosted a lecture by Jodi Dean over her new book The Communist Horizon. It was my first time meeting Jodi in person after many years of online interaction, but more importantly it was a great lecture.

One thing that came up frequently in the Q&A was the issue of how we can know that advocating communism won’t lead straight to the worst excesses of Stalinism. She had addressed this question already in the lecture — saying, for instance, that the very existence of the question shows that we “know better” at this point and that there’s no reason to assume that history will repeat itself in exactly the same way — but she also admitted that part of her theory is that there can be no absolute guarantees in politics, so that tyrrany is always a danger to some degree in any political formation.

I was pretty satisfied with her answer, but the insistence of the question made it clear that some people needed more. That’s why I am announcing an exciting new financial product that will provide peace of mind to those who are interested in advocating communism but worried about the risk: Stalinism Insurance. In the event that a totalitarian dystopia emerges, the policyholder will get a generous payout to help them escape. We also offer a “Get Out of the Gulag Free” certificate to be presented to the authorities in the event of a purge, and we are currently cultivating relationships with literary agents to help our policyholders sell their memoirs.

Please do not hesitate to contact me about setting up a payment plan.