Jodi Dean

Comrade Dean

Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean’s new book examines political belonging in the 21st century and how solidarity is a vehicle for action.

by Andrew Wickenden ’09

“Comradeship is about our responsibility to each other — and it makes us better and stronger than we could ever be alone,” writes Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean in a new article in Jacobin magazine.

Dean’s most recent book offers a theory of the comrade as a mode of address, figure of belonging and carrier of expectations for action, as she explains in a number of articles and interviews published in concert with the October release of Comrade: An Essay on Political Belonging.

As Dean told President Joyce P. Jacobsen in an interview on the Pulteney Street Podcast, Comrade argues that the political left should “act and think of itself as on the same side” and draws a contrast between comrades and allies. “The language of allies is [that of] separate entities protecting their self-interest and pulling together out of mutual protection of singular self-interest rather than all having the same horizon, the same commitments, the same set of understandings,” she explains.

“The discipline of collective work on behalf of a shared goal has been replaced by an individualist rhetoric of comfort and self-care,” she writes in the Jacobin article, “We Need Comrades.” Comradeship goes deeper than “a sense of politics as a matter of individual conviction,” to a unity and mutual understanding “needed in order to build a shared political capacity.” Amidst global climate crisis and hyper-partisan politics, writes Dean, comradeship is the antidote to the misleading notion that “our problems can be solved by imagination, big ideas, and creativity.”

Or, as she puts it later: “Big ideas are nothing without cadre to fight for them.”

An expert in contemporary political theory, Dean is the author or editor of 13 books, including Blog Theory, Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies, The Communist Horizon and Crowds and Party. She earned her bachelor's degree at Princeton University and her Ph.D. at Columbia University. She joined the faculty in 1993.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.