Platypus in the New Yorker article 'Outside Agitator: Naomi Klein and the new new left'
Outside Agitator: Naomi Klein and the new new left. By Larissa MacFarquhar
Read the complete article from the December 8th issue of the New Yorker.
A few excerpts:
After the death of Milton Friedman, in 2006, the University of Chicago decided to set up an institute in his honor. The institute was opposed by many professors, who formed a group to protest it. Klein offered to debate someone from the instituteâ€™s board, but nobody would do it, so she agreed to go to Chicago and talk about her own objections to the project.
The evening was sponsored in part by the Platypus Affiliated Societyâ€”a student-teacher reading group that focusses on the Frankfurt School and the Second International period of Marxismâ€”and a few of Platypusâ€™s members, tall, thin, pale young men, had set up a table out front. Platypus was founded on the idea that the left didnâ€™t have a proper sense of its own history, especially the bad bits, and that a study of that history would help it emerge from the troubled state in which it found itself.[...]
Given its emphasis on self-criticism, Platypus was not a natural constituency for Kleinâ€™s work, but because she was coming to the campus the group read â€œThe Shock Doctrine,â€ and also Hayek and Friedman. â€œThe conservatives engage the questions of freedom and utopia directly,â€ Ian Morrison, the editor of Platypusâ€™s newsletter, said. â€œWe were very struck that Klein seemed to back away from utopianism, because we feel that the left has liquidated itself in part because itâ€™s conceded talk about freedom to someone like Bush.â€[...]
In August, Platypus participated in a historical reÃ«nactment, in Grant Park, of the 1968 Democratic Convention, minus the police. â€œAs a group of young, largely inexperienced activists it was the only organizing framework we could find which emphasized active participation,â€ read a writeup of the event in the Platypus Review. â€œOther forms seemed linguistically and ideologically flaccid. . . We didnâ€™t want to view our historyâ€”our radical historyâ€”as if from a riverbank, we wanted to jump in and splash around in it. . . . We debated, for instance, the ethics of nominating a live pig for the presidency: what should we feed it, and where would it stay?â€