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Reflections on the concept of "vanguard party" – first part of essay available on Medium.

With Continuity and Rupture about to be released I have decided to edit and release an extended essay I started working on a month after the manuscript was accepted by Zero Books. This essay was the result of reading Jodi Dean's recent Crowds and Party: part of me wished it had been released earlier so I could engage with it before I finished the manuscript of my upcoming book, especially since it echoed some of the concerns in The Communist Necessity, made up for some of the short-comings of her The Communist Horizon, and dovetailed with some sections of Continuity and Rupture. Hence the essay in question was written as a kind of tangental exploration of an area adjacent to the territory delineated by the boundaries of my two books.

Really, what Dean's recent book encouraged me to write was a meditation on the concept of the vanguard party in the face of the normative anti-party ideology that underlies the ideology of a good portion of the first world establishment left. The focus of the essay was not on the arguments for the necessity of a communist party (I did that in TNC and Dean also did that in Crowds and Party), or how a party ought to be built and structured (which has already been written by numerous people and organizations), but how to think the concept of a party of the avant garde in a way that was fresh. Since the term "vanguard party" is often treated as a stale and old-fashioned concept, the question that concerned me was how to look at it from a different angle, to think through the metaphor of "advanced guard" and maybe glimpse it from other analogical frameworks, while at the same time interrogating the reasons it was treated as unfashionable. Hence, I was interested in writing a loose philosophical treatment of the concept rather than a rigorous theoretical investigation, and something that would function as a bridge between The Communist Necessity and Continuity and Rupture as pre-release promotion.

"Here's a way to think about 'vanguard party'," is what I wanted to say, "That should make you understand the concept as something that is not old-fashioned, something that might be exciting." I'm not sure if I've accomplished that but at the very least I might have written something that will generate interest for Continuity and Rupture.

I entitled the essay in question The Creative Potential of the Subjective Will: the revolutionary party as avant garde and decided to release it, now that I've given it a cosmetic edit, as a three part series on Medium. I probably will collect it into a single PDF document later and make it available on this blog, but for the moment I like the idea of experimenting with a different platform. I wanted to try out Medium for a while––a curiousity that increased exponentially upon starting a twitter account––and felt that this long promotional essay would be an excuse. Maybe it would find me other readers (probably not, but one can hope) and it would not foreclose on my ability to put it up on this blog later.

Until I do make this essay available as a PDF on this blog, then, I would encourage faithful readers to read the first part on Medium. The second and third parts will be made available soon, so bear with me. And you should be happy to bear with me since I'm just giving you things free. I'll do my best to advertise the releases of the next parts in the essay when they're available.


  1. Hey, comrade, a couple of editorial corrections I would like to offer for your essay in case you haven't already noticed/heard about them:

    "how can a movement that takes disunity to be its strength ever produce the kind of solidarity required to overcome communism"

    here "communism" --should be--> "capitalism"

    * * *

    "If it is better to make revolution than something more"

    "than" --should be--> "then"

    1. Haha, thanks. It's nearly impossible to copy-edit your own work. I'll make those changes.


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