Joining the Party: Critical Education and the Question of Organization

Derek R. Ford


In the proliferation of "critical" educational scholarship there is a glaring omission, and that is research on the Party-form. Indeed, even when theorists like Gramsci and Lukàcs are discussed in critical education their work is always abstracted from its context: the Communist Party. This article contends that if critical education wants to orient toward the overthrow of capitalism then it has to take the Party seriously. I counter the misrepresentaitons and caricatures of the Party-form by carefully reading Lenin, Lukàcs, and Dean. I show that the Party is a student of the mass struggle, that it is disciplined to the full subjectivity of the proletariat, and that it is ultimately a form of unknowing and the organization of a lack. I conclude by delineating four concrete steps that critical educators can take toward building the Party.


Critical Education; Marxism; Leninism; Revolution; Party

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ISSN 1920-4175 Critical Education