August 2021: My article Comradely Critique has been published open-access in Political Studies. You can download it for free (here).
I explore what it means to disagree with people with whom you usually agree. How should political actors concerned with emancipation approach internal disagreement? In short, how should we go about critiquing not our enemies or adversaries but those with whom we share emancipatory visions? I outline the notion of comradely critique as a solution to these questions. I go through a series of examples of how and when critique should differ depending on its addressee, drawing on Jodi Dean’s figure of the comrade. I develop a contrast with its neighbours the ally and the partisan, thus identifying key elements of comradely critique: good faith, equal humanity, equal standing, solidarity, collaboration, common purpose and dispelling fatalism. I then analyse Theodor W. Adorno and Herbert Marcuse’s private correspondence on the 1960s German student movement as an illustration of (imperfect) comradely critique. I conclude by identifying a crucial tension about publicness and privateness.
June 2021: I have accepted an offer as an LSE Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This is a career development post for 2-3 years where I will teach the interdisciplinary, School-wide LSE100 as well as work on various parts of my research agenda.
June 2021: My article Faith between reason and affect: thinking with Antonio Gramsci has been published in Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory. It is published as open access, you can find it here.
I argue that faith is a crucial concept for understanding the relationship between reason and affect. By allowing people to learn from religious faith for secular ends, it can help generate political action for emancipatory change. Antonio Gramsci's underexplored secular-political and materialist conception of faith provides an important contribution to such a project. By speaking to common sense and tradition, faith avoids imposing a wholly external set of normative and political principles, instead taking people as they are as the starting point for generating emancipatory change. It also allows us to imagine the construction of alternative institutions (the Church provides an interesting model for challenging existing state authority). Theorists should therefore pay attention not just to the rationalist logic of discursive justification but also to the complex processes of social, collectively held emotions and how these influence political action as forms of affect. The article provides a detailed reconstruction of Gramsci's conception of faith and analyzes the instruments it provides for bridging the gap between reason and affect.