Whispers have been traveling around the Left for a while now, telling of a strange entity without a name. In the midst of multitudes and multiplicities strange phrases appear—“fidelity to the Event,” “kernel of truth,” “commitment”—a language at once new and yet archaic. The radical dogmas that all organizations must be horizontal and all revolutions organic are no longer repeated with enthusiasm. There is a specter haunting communism—the specter of the Communist Party. Jodi Dean’s new work, Crowds and Party (2016), finally speaks that name. It is a study of the party as a form, a tactic, and an experience that is both a strong counterblast to the individualist tendencies of the contemporary Left and a celebration of the party’s true sublimating potential.

At the heart of Dean’s argument is an experience familiar to many who took to the streets in 2010 and found...

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