"In this contemporary age of “canceling,” “call-out culture” and performative “wokeness," Dean’s refreshing Marxist analysis is a beacon of hope towards an egalitarian future. She details how neoliberalism drained the optimism and collectivity of political organizing and poisoned it with individualism — which has infected some sections of the left with an exclusive focus on personal identity, leaving many leftists fighting amongst each other instead of against the actual forces that oppress us. With wit, profundity and historical context, Dean asks and answers: what is the difference between allies and comrades? Comrades and friends? Comrades and enemies? Who can be a comrade (spoiler alert: anyone but not everyone), how does one become a comrade, and what does it mean to be one?
If I am lucky enough to grow old, I have no doubt this book will still be with me as a staple on my nightstand, highlighted, underlined and treasured. I have given at least five copies as gifts to my comrades already. This text is an essential and visionary map forward for anyone who is serious about political organizing. '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 political belonging that must be built, sustained, and defended.
Dean offers a theory of the comrade. Comrades are equals on the same side of a political struggle. Voluntarily coming together in the struggle for justice, their relationship is characterized by discipline, joy, courage, and enthusiasm. Considering the egalitarianism of the comrade in light of differences of race and gender, Dean draws from an array of historical and literary examples such as Harry Haywood, C.L.R. James, Alexandra Kollontai, and Doris Lessing. She argues that if we are to be a left at all, we have to be comrades.