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Comrade: An Essay on Political Belonging

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  149 ratings  ·  24 reviews
When people say “comrade,” they change the world

In the twentieth century, millions of people across the globe addressed each other as “comrade.” Now, among the left, it’s more common to hear talk of “allies.” In Comrade, Jodi Dean insists that this shift exemplifies the key problem with the contemporary left: the substitution of political identity for a relationship of pol
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Verso
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Alex Nuttle
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jodi Dean has written a very thorough history and analysis of the word ‘Comrade’ that I enjoyed for the most part. One of the other goodreads reviewers called Dean a ‘tankie’ and if you know what that means then I’ll say that I disagree with that analysis, and if you don’t know what that means then don’t worry because it’s not important to what this book is truly about.

In the current political climate of the western world and especially the United States, there is a tendency amongst left and lef
Karlo Mikhail
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory
Highly recommended!
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good essay using the term “comrade” as a jumping off point for exploring the fracturing of the now stalled left. If you believe in class consciousness—especially if you believe in exploitation as the key to our ails—this essay offers a valuable contemporary perspective. Plus the cover is fun. I read 3/4’s of an uncorrected proof, and I don’t feel like finishing it, so it gets no rating from me.

UPDATE: I give it five stars now because Jodi Dean is awesome, I’m rediscovering.
Sep 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I was prepared to love this book instantaneously, being called Comrade and edited by Verso Books. The premise was promising: in the 20th century we had comrades, now we have allies; don't we need a political belonging that only comradeship brings? Instead, I found the book very tiresome, always repeating itself, sometimes the same sentence with the words placed in another order, it felt like. It's clear that apart from the Soviet examples, which were somewhat enlightening, the author was set on ...more
Vassiki Chauhan
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Challenging as fuck, but totally worth it!
Wendy Liu
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wasn’t a big fan of the philosophy bits (mostly drawing on Badiou, Zizek, and Lacan) but I liked the historical references & the critique of liberal identity politics. ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
'As it gives form to the political relation between those on the same side, comrade promises alienation and fulfilment: liberation from the constraints of racist patriarchal capitalism and a new relation born of collective political work towards an emancipatory egalitarian future. Exceeding a sense of politics as individual conviction an choice, comrade points to expectations of individual choice, comrade points to expectations of solidarity as indispensable to political action.'

'The end of comr
Apr 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm completely torn on how to rate this, because I didn't enjoy it and I found it far too dense for my tastes (despite the appealingly brief page count...). However, it soundly fulfills its intended purpose, and will likely appeal to readers that understand it's essentially an academic essay and not a short non-fiction book. It gave me a few things to think about, and it kind of fleshes out the idea that identity politics are less important than class struggle and goals of overall equity.

Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
kind of immersed in tankie language (and clearly Jodi Dean IS a tankie), but a few of the actual points might be worth thinking about--
-discipline as a kind of collective responsibility, in opposition to an individual's needing to know/do it all
-communism as a perpetual possibility in history, not as an achievement to be won (obviously, derrida made the same point in Specters of Marx, and was much better in doing it)
Shaun Richman
Sep 19, 2019 rated it liked it
The first 3/4 of the book is excellent. A history, etymology and philosophy of the word and persuasive argument to use it in place of brother, sibling or ally. The last chapter makes clear that the author’s conception of the comrade relationship is within a small democratic centralist sect. Still, social democrats and DSA types will find utility in the first three chapters and could use them as the base for their own formulation of what it means to “no longer be comrades.”
Frank Keizer
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Reclaiming the comrade as a political relation with a shared (communist) horizon is useful as an intervention, contra current modes of 'allyship' or the 'survivor', but the book seems a bit too hastily written. Loved the parts about Platonov and the destitution of the comrade relation, forged in ruins.
Lucas Reif
Loved reencountering Dean's reading of Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, which seems a fitting closing homage to Fisher, though I share the criticism that the final chapter somewhat belies the genericity so central to her earlier construction/case studies. Intrigued to check out Crowds and Party next.
Christopher Medrano
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A powerful and inspirational ideal of the comrade that all of those who side with leftist politics can aspire to be for each other and for their political ideals. Good if you like Slavoj Zizek's writings as it draws from similar philosophical inspirations as well as from Zizek himself.
Alexander Tas
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful history of the word that can be at sometimes dense to newcomers to the theoretical readings. Dean does a great job of really laying how the word can and should be used in order to better forge towards a communist future.
Nov 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Read this for my local DSA book club. Dean's theses on the comrade are great; however, the author's glossing over the CPUSA's popular front and Stalinist era was annoying and counterproductive to moving the theory of the comrade forward. A real mixed-bag.
Ben S
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting read. Repeats some of Dean's earlier work, but a good way to think about how to conceive who is and isn't a comrade. The discussion around the ending of comradeship, but with a road to return was worthwhile.
Sølvi Goard
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Think I share some of the other reviewers concerns on the conclusions, but still very valuable and thoughtful.
Jonathan Brown Gilbert
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not as good as Blog Theory.
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
easy read, compelling, heartwarming at times. addressed some things i didn't expect, like expulsion, drift, etc.
Nathan  Fisher
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Feels unfinished and often underdeveloped but I’m a pushover since I share Dean’s instincts in general. The touchingly archaic engagement with Badiou and Zizek still here I see ...
Nov 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
Role playing for spoiled brats who don't know what life is like in a Totalitarian regime.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first essay alone is a productive provocation!
Feb 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Repetitive yet still highly enjoyable.
Luis Boa
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
I think I'll give it another go but I just found it generally unhelpful. I liked the critique of the word ally though and those ideas have stayed with me since reading the book so after half a year I've increased my rating a bit
Chad Felix
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Jodi Dean teaches political and media theory in Geneva, New York. She has written or edited eleven books, including The Communist Horizon and Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies.

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