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You are here: Platypus /Archive for author Chris Cutrone

Chicago
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Wednesdays 6pm
116 S. Michigan Ave., Room 202


Berkeley
Berkeley City College Room 033
Mondays 6:00PM
Last seven weeks beginning June 19th


required / + recommended reading


Lenin readings available in Robert C. Tucker, ed., The Lenin Anthology (Norton, 1977), except (*) on marxists.org


Recommended background readings

+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
+ John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World (1919)


Week 1 | June 14

• Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution (1905)
• Lenin, On the Two Lines in the Revolution (1915) *


Week 2 | June 21

Lenin, Lecture on the 1905 Revolution (1917)
Lenin, Letters from Afar (1917) *
Lenin, April Theses (1917)


Week 3 | June 28

Lenin, The Dual Power (1917)
Lenin, The Enemies of the People (1917)
Lenin, The Beginning of Bonapartism (1917)


Week 4 | July 5

Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)


Week 5 | July 12

Lenin, Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power? (1917)
Lenin, Marxism and Insurrection (1917)
Lenin, Advice of an Onlooker (1917)


Week 6 | July 19

Lenin, To the Citizens of Russia! (1917)
Lenin, Theses on the Constituent Assembly (1917)
Lenin, The Chief Task of Our Day (1918)
Lenin, The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government (1918)


Week 7 | July 26

Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky (1918)

brodsky_leninsmolnypalace


II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism


Chicago: Thursdays 6–9PM CST

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
112 S. Michigan Ave. room 818


required / + recommended reading


Marx and Engels readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)


Recommended winter break preliminary readings:

+ Leszek Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left” (1968)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)
+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6


Film screenings: January 2017

37 Days (2014) [Episode 1] [Episode 2] [Episode 3]
Fall of Eagles (1974) episodes: "Absolute Beginners," "The Secret War," and "End Game"
Rosa Luxemburg (1986)
• Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States (2012) Episodes A (1900-20) and B (1920-40)
Reds (1981)


Winter 2017

I. What is the "Left?" -- What is "Marxism?"

Week 10. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Jan. 7, 2017

• Georg Lukács, “The phenomenon of reification” (Part I of “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)

+ Commodity form chart of terms


Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Jan. 14, 2017

Lukács, Original Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), “Class Consciousness” (1920), History and Class Consciousness (1923)
+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital (1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302


Week 12. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Jan. 21, 2017

Korsch, “Marxism and philosophy” (1923)
+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11
+ Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15
+ Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), pp. 143–145


Winter–Spring 2017

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Week 13. Revolutionary leadership | Jan. 28, 2017

• Rosa Luxemburg, “The Crisis of German Social Democracy” Part 1 (1915)
• J. P. Nettl, “The German Social Democratic Party 1890–1914 as a Political Model” (1965)
• Cliff Slaughter, “What is Revolutionary Leadership?” (1960)


Week 14. Reform or revolution? | Feb. 4, 2017

Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution? (1900/08)


Week 15. Lenin and the vanguard party | Feb. 11, 2017

Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)


Week 16. What is to be done? | Feb. 18, 2017

• V. I. Lenin, What is to be Done? (1902)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)


Week 17. Mass strike and social democracy | Feb. 25, 2017

Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906)
+ Luxemburg, "Blanquism and Social Democracy" (1906)


Week 18. Permanent revolution | Mar. 4, 2017

• Leon Trotsky, Results and Prospects (1906)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)


Week 19. State and revolution | Mar. 11, 2017

Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)


Week 20. Imperialism | Mar. 18, 2017

Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)
+ Lenin, Socialism and War Ch. 1 The principles of socialism and the War of 1914–15 (1915)


Week 21. Mar. 25, 2017 (spring break)


Week 22. Failure of the revolution | Apr. 1, 2017

Luxemburg, “What does the Spartacus League Want?” (1918)
Luxemburg, “On the Spartacus Programme” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, "German Bolshevism" (AKA "The Socialisation of Society") (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “The Russian Tragedy” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “Order Reigns in Berlin” (1919)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)


Week 23. Apr. 8, 2017 [Platypus international convention]


Week 24. Retreat after revolution | Apr. 15, 2017

Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920)
+ Lenin, "Notes of a Publicist" (1922)


Week 25. Dialectic of reification | Apr. 22, 2017

Lukács, “The Standpoint of the Proletariat” (Part III of “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” 1923). Available in three sections from marxists.org: section 1 section 2 section 3


Week 26. Lessons of October | Apr. 29, 2017

Trotsky, The Lessons of October (1924) [PDF] + Trotsky, "Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)


Week 27. Trotskyism | May 6, 2017

+ Trotsky, "To build communist parties and an international anew" (1933)
Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (1938)
+ Trotsky, "Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay" (1940)
+ Trotsky, Letter to James Cannon (September 12, 1939)


Week 28. The authoritarian state | May 13, 2017

• Friedrich Pollock, "State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations" (1941) (note 32 on USSR)
• Max Horkheimer, "The Authoritarian State" (1942)


Week 29. On the concept of history | May 20, 2017

• epigraphs by Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson) and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche) on the modern concept of history
+ Charles Baudelaire, from Fusées [Rockets] (1867)
+ Bertolt Brecht, "To posterity" (1939)
+ Walter Benjamin, "To the planetarium" (from One-Way Street, 1928)
+ Benjamin, "Experience and poverty" (1933)
+ Benjamin, Theologico-political fragment (1921/39?)
Benjamin, "On the Concept of History" (AKA "Theses on the Philosophy of History") (1940) [PDF] • Benjamin, Paralipomena to "On the Concept of History" (1940)


Week 30. Reflections on Marxism | May 27, 2017

• Theodor Adorno, “Reflections on Class Theory” (1942)
Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)
+ Adorno, Dedication, "Bequest", "Warning: Not to be Misused" and "Finale", Minima Moralia (1944–47)
+ Horkheimer and Adorno, "Discussion about Theory and Praxis" (AKA "Towards a New Manifesto?") [Deutsch] (1956)


Week 31. Theory and practice | Jun. 3, 2017

+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)
Adorno, “Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)
Adorno, “Resignation” (1969)
+ Adorno, “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?” (AKA “Is Marx Obsolete?”) (1968)
+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)
+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)


If one blows all the smoke away, one is left with the obvious question: Why not Trump? Trump is opposed by virtually the entire mainstream political establishment, Republican and Democrat, and by the entire mainstream news media, conservative and liberal alike. And yet he could win. That says something. It says that there is something there.

brodsky_leninsmolnypalace


Saturdays


Summer and Fall/Autumn 2016 – Winter 2017

I. What is the Left? -- What is Marxism?


required / + recommended reading


Marx and Engels readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)


Week A. Radical bourgeois philosophy I. Rousseau: Crossroads of society | Aug. 6, 2016

Whoever dares undertake to establish a people’s institutions must feel himself capable of changing, as it were, human nature, of transforming each individual, who by himself is a complete and solitary whole, into a part of a larger whole, from which, in a sense, the individual receives his life and his being, of substituting a limited and mental existence for the physical and independent existence. He has to take from man his own powers, and give him in exchange alien powers which he cannot employ without the help of other men.

-- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract (1762)

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by James Miller (on Jean-Jacques Rousseau), Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson), Karl Marx, on "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58), and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche)

+ Rainer Maria Rilke, "Archaic Torso of Apollo" (1908)

+ Robert Pippin, "On Critical Theory" (2004)

• Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754) PDFs of preferred translation (5 parts): [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Rousseau, selection from On the Social Contract (1762)


Week B. Radical bourgeois philosophy II. Hegel: Freedom in history | Aug. 13, 2016

• G.W.F. Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History (1831) [HTML] [PDF pp. 14-128] [Audiobook]


Week C. Radical bourgeois philosophy III. Nietzsche (1): Life in history | Aug. 20, 2016

• Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Use and Abuse of History for Life (1874) [translator's introduction by Peter Preuss]

+ Nietzsche on history chart of terms


Week D. Radical bourgeois philosophy IV. Nietzsche (2): Asceticism of moderns | Aug. 27, 2016

+ Human, All Too Human: Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil (1999)

Nietzsche, selection from On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873)

Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic (1887)


Week E. 1960s New Left I. Neo-Marxism | Sep. 3, 2016 U.S. Labor Day weekend

• Martin Nicolaus, “The unknown Marx” (1968)

+ Commodity form chart of terms

• Moishe Postone, “Necessity, labor, and time” (1978)

+ Postone, “History and helplessness: Mass mobilization and contemporary forms of anticapitalism” (2006)

+ Postone, “Theorizing the contemporary world: Brenner, Arrighi, Harvey” (2006)


Week F. 1960s New Left II. Gender and sexuality | Sep. 10, 2016

• Juliet Mitchell, “Women: The longest revolution” (1966)

• Clara Zetkin and Vladimir Lenin, “An interview on the woman question” (1920)

• Theodor W. Adorno, “Sexual taboos and the law today” (1963)

• John D’Emilio, “Capitalism and gay identity” (1983)


Week G. 1960s New Left III. Anti-black racism in the U.S. | Sep. 17, 2016

• Richard Fraser, “Two lectures on the black question in America and revolutionary integrationism” (1953)

• James Robertson and Shirley Stoute, “For black Trotskyism” (1963)

+ Spartacist League, “Black and red: Class struggle road to Negro freedom” (1966)

+ Bayard Rustin, “The failure of black separatism” (1970)

• Adolph Reed, “Black particularity reconsidered” (1979)

+ Reed, “Paths to Critical Theory” (1984)


Week H. Frankfurt School precursors | Sep. 24, 2016

• Wilhelm Reich, “Ideology as material power” (1933/46)

• Siegfried Kracauer, “The mass ornament” (1927)

+ Kracauer, “Photography” (1927)


Week 1. What is the Left? I. Capital in history | Oct. 1, 2016

• epigraphs on modern history and freedom by Louis Menand (on Marx and Engels) and Karl Marx, on "becoming" (from the Grundrisse, 1857–58)

• Chris Cutrone, "Capital in history" (2008)

+ Capital in history timeline and chart of terms

+ video of Communist University 2011 London presentation

Cutrone, "The Marxist hypothesis" (2010)


Week 2. What is the Left? II. Bourgeois society | Oct. 8, 2016

• Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view" and "What is Enlightenment?" (1784)

• Benjamin Constant, "The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns" (1819)

+ Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the origin of inequality (1754)

+ Rousseau, selection from On the social contract (1762)


Week 3. What is the Left? III. Failure of Marxism | Oct. 15, 2016

• Max Horkheimer, selections from Dämmerung (1926–31)

Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)


Week 4. What is the Left? IV. Utopia and critique | Oct. 22, 2016

• Leszek Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left” (1968)

Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11

Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15


Week 5. What is Marxism? I. Socialism | Oct. 29, 2016

Marx, selections from Economic and philosophic manuscripts (1844), pp. 70–101

+ Commodity form chart of terms

Marx and Friedrich Engels, selections from the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), pp. 469-500

Marx, Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League (1850), pp. 501–511


Week 6. What is Marxism? II. Revolution in 1848 | Nov. 5, 2016

Marx, The coming upheaval (from The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847) and Class struggle and mode of production (letter to Weydemeyer, 1852), pp. 218-220

Engels, The tactics of social democracy (Engels's 1895 introduction to Marx, The Class Struggles in France), pp. 556–573

Marx, selections from The Class Struggles in France 1848–50 (1850), pp. 586–593

Marx, selections from The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), pp. 594–617


Week 7. What is Marxism? III. Bonapartism | Nov. 12, 2016

+ Karl Korsch, "The Marxism of the First International" (1924)

Marx, Inaugural address to the First International (1864), pp. 512–519

Marx, selections from The Civil War in France (1871, including Engels's 1891 Introduction), pp. 618–652

+ Korsch, Introduction to Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1922)

Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, pp. 525–541

Marx, Programme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880)


Week 8. What is Marxism? IV. Critique of political economy | Nov. 19, 2016

+ Commodity form chart of terms

Marx, selections from the Grundrisse (1857–61), pp. 222–226, 236–244, 247–250, 276–293 ME Reader pp. 276-281

Marx, Capital Vol. I, Ch. 1 Sec. 4 "The fetishism of commodities" (1867), pp. 319–329


Week 9. Nov. 26, 2016 U.S. Thanksgiving break


Week 10. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Dec. 3, 2016 / Jan. 7, 2017

• Georg Lukács, “The phenomenon of reification” (Part I of “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)

+ Commodity form chart of terms


Winter break readings

+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)

+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)

+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6

+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)

+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)


Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Dec. 10, 2016 / Jan. 14, 2017

Lukács, Original Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), “Class Consciousness” (1920), History and Class Consciousness (1923)

+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital (1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302


Week 12. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Dec. 17, 2016 / Jan. 21, 2017

Korsch, “Marxism and philosophy” (1923)

+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11

+ Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15

+ Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), pp. 143–145


Winter–Spring 2017

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

New York
Wednesdays at 6:30pm beginning June 15
School of Visual Arts
380 2nd Ave, Room 804B

Chicago
School of the Art Institute, Chicago
Mondays 6pm
112 S Michigan Ave, Room 919

Houston
Sundays at 3:00 pm (ongoing)
University of Houston
MD Anderson Library (meet in the lobby)

London
Mondays at 6pm
Goldsmiths College, Richard Hoggart Building, Room 257


required / + recommended reading


Marx readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)


Recommended background readings

+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. 12–16 (from "Marx and Engels go back to writing history" to "Karl Marx dies at his desk")
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)


Week 1

+ Karl Korsch, "The Marxism of the First International" (1924)
• Karl Marx, Inaugural address to the First International (1864), pp. 512–519
• Ferdinand Lassalle, Open letter to the German workers’ movement (1863)
• Mikhail Bakunin, A Critique of the German Social-Democratic Program (1870)
Bakunin, Marxism, Freedom and the State (1872)


Week 2

+ Korsch, Introduction to Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1922)
Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, pp. 525–541
Marx, Programme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880)
• Karl Kautsky, The Class Struggle (1892)


Week 3

Kautsky,The Social Revolution (1902)


Week 4

• Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread, especially Chapters 3, 11 and 12 (1906)
Kropotkin, Anarchist Communism (1909)


Week 5

Kautsky, The Road to Power (1909)

Without a socialist party, there is no class struggle, only rackets

Chris Cutrone

Platypus Review #82 | December 2015 - January 2016

HORKHEIMER’S REMARKABLE ESSAY “On the sociology of class relations” (1943)1 is continuous with Adorno’s contemporaneous “Reflections on class theory” (1942) as well as his own “The authoritarian state” (1940/42), which similarly mark the transformation of Marx and Engels’s famous injunction in the Communist Manifesto that “history is the history of class struggles.” All of these writings were inspired by Walter Benjamin’s “On the concept of history” (AKA “Theses on the philosophy of history,” 1940), which registered history’s fundamental crisis. Instead, for Horkheimer and Adorno in the 1940s, history has become the history of “rackets.”2 As Horkheimer concludes his draft, parenthetically citing Marx on Hegelian methodology, “the anatomy of man is key to that of the ape:” the past is explicable from the present, in the form of clique power-politics. But this change is for Horkheimer a devolution -- regression. It stemmed from the failure of proletarian socialist revolutionary politics after 1917-19. Without Marxism, there was no class struggle.3

The significance of this change is the relation of the individual to the collective in capitalism. This affects the character of consciousness, and thus the role of theory: the critical theory of the capitalist totality -- Marxism -- is fundamentally altered. Specifically, the role of working-class political parties in developing this consciousness is evacuated. At stake is what Horkheimer later (in his 1956 conversation with Adorno translated as Towards a New Manifesto [2011]) called, simply, the “memory of socialism.” It disappears. This was Horkheimer’s primary concern, why he points out that the socialist party was not focused on fighting against exploitation, and was indeed indifferent to it. This is because exploitation does not distinguish capitalism from other epochs of history; only the potential possibility for socialism does. That is why, without socialist politics, the pre-capitalist past reasserts itself, in the form of rackets.

At the conclusion of “The authoritarian state,” Horkheimer wrote that, “with the return to the old free enterprise system, the entire horror would start again from the beginning under new management.” Regarding the specific topic stated in the title of this essay in particular, we should note Horkheimer’s unequivocal observation in “The authoritarian state” that,

“Sociological and psychological concepts are too superficial to express what has happened to revolutionaries in the last few decades: their will toward freedom has been damaged, without which neither understanding nor solidarity nor a correct relation between leader and group is conceivable.”4

If there was a “sociology of class relations” to be had, then it would be, as usual for the Frankfurt School, a “negative” and not positive phenomenon. The issue was how to grasp the significance of the original proletarian socialist revolutionary “will toward freedom” degenerating into a matter of mere “sociology” at all. We need to pay attention to the problem indicated by the “On . . .” in the title of Horkheimer’s essay. “Class” in Marx’s sense was not amenable to sociology; but “rackets” are. Sociology is about groups; but the proletariat for Marx was not a sociological group but rather a negative condition of society. The proletariat in capitalism was for Marx a negative phenomenon indicating the need for socialism. The political task of meeting that necessity was what Marx called “proletarian socialism.”

Horkheimer was in keeping with Marx on this score. As the former SYRIZA Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis pointed out in a recent (October 23, 2015) interview, Marx was not concerned with “equality” or “justice,” but “liberty” -- freedom.5 Moreover, as Varoufakis correctly observes, for Marx, capitalism is a condition of unfreedom for the capitalists and not only for the workers.6

As Marx wrote, at least as early as The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), the capitalist class is constituted as such, as a class, only in response to the demands of the workers. It treats the demands of the workers as impossible under capitalism, as a more or less criminal violation of society. It is only in meeting the political challenge of a unified capitalist class that the working class constitutes itself as a class “in itself,” not only subjectively but also objectively. For Marx, the historical turning point in this development was Chartism in England, which inaugurates the “class struggle” of the working class per se.

Only in fulfilling the task of proletarian socialism, transcending not only the workers’ (competing, racket) economic interests in capitalism but also democracy in bourgeois society, that is, coming up against the limits of liberalism, does the proletariat become a class “for itself” -- on the way to “abolishing itself” in overcoming the negative condition of society in capitalism: its politics is not about one group replacing another. But Chartism in the U.K., like the revolutions of 1848-49 on the Continent, failed. For Marx, this is the need for “revolution in permanence” (1850) indicated by the failure of the democratic revolution and of the “social republic” in 1848. This is why Adorno (1966) characterized the critical concept of “society” itself, negatively, as originating “around 1848.” The Chartists’ last act was to translate Marx and Engels’s Manifesto.7

So what, for Marx, was missing in 1848? This is key to what is missing for Horkheimer a hundred years later: an adequate political party for proletarian socialism; the means for making capitalism a political issue.

The role of the political party, specifically as non-identical with the workers' consciousness, both individually and collectively, was to actually preserve the individuality of the workers -- as well as of intellectuals! -- that is otherwise liquidated in the corporate collectives of capitalist firms, labor unions and nation-states. These rackets have replaced the world party of proletarian socialist revolution, which was itself a dialectical expression of the totality of market relations and of the otherwise chaotic disorder of the concrete conditions of the workers. For Horkheimer, workers related to the political party individually, and only as such constituted themselves as part of a class -- in revolutionary political struggle to overcome capitalism through socialism. It was not that Lenin’s party caused the liquidation of the individual, but the later travesty of “Leninism” in Stalinism was the effect of a broader and deeper socially regressive history of capitalism -- what Marx called “Bonapartism” in the 19th century -- that the 20th century authoritarian state and its concomitant “sociological” problem of political “atomization” expressed.

Liquidating the political party paves the way for conformism: individuality in society instead becomes individualism, whether of persons or corporate bodies. As Margaret Thatcher succinctly put it, “There is no such thing as society.” Not only as wish but in fact. By contrast, the party was the negative political discipline adequate to the societal crisis of liberal capitalism in self-contradiction. But for Horkheimer, now, instead positivity rules, in a direct authoritarian manner that capitalism eludes. Avoidance of the party means avoiding capitalism -- which suits the power of the rackets as such.

The problem of society’s domination by anonymous social forces was revealed by the struggle against exploitation, which demonstrated the limits of the power of the capitalists and hence the problem of and need to transform “society” as such. The “social question” dawned in the political crisis of 1848: the limits of the democratic republic. This becomes replaced by overt power relations that are mystified, by appearing to know no limits. For Horkheimer, following Lenin8, the party's struggle for socialism picked up where the struggle against exploitation reached its limits; without the party there is no struggle for socialism: no pointing beyond but only accommodating capitalism as nature -- or at least as a condition seemingly permanent to society.

This is why Horkheimer likens the ideology of organized "racket" capitalism in the 20th century to traditional civilization, by contrast with the liberal capitalism of the 19th century mediated by markets. Indeed, the problem with the rackets is that they falsify precisely the universalism of ideology, which in liberalism could be turned into a negative critique, an index of falsity. Universality is no longer claimed, so the universal condition of domination by capital is rendered occult and illegible. As Adorno put it, “The whole is the false.” Only by confronting the negative totality of capitalism politically was class struggle possible. The power-struggles of rackets do not point beyond themselves. There is no history. | P


  1. Unpublished manuscript, available on-line at: <http://sammlungen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/horkheimer/content/pageview/6591478>. See the symposium on Horkheimer's essay with Todd Cronan, James Schmidt, John Lysaker, Nicholas Brown and David Jenemann published at nonsite.org (January 11, 2016), from which this essay is taken: <http://nonsite.org/the-tank/max-horkheimer-and-the-sociology-of-class-relations>. 

  2. Horkheimer specified the concept of “rackets” in “On the sociology of class relations” as follows:
    “The concept of the racket referring to the big and to the small units struggling for as great a share as possible of the surplus value designates all such groups from the highest capitalistic bodies down to the little pressure groups working within or without the pale of the law among the most miserable strata of the population. It has arisen as a theoretical concept when, by the increasing absoluteness of the profit system the disproportion between the functions of the ruling class in production and the advantages which they draw from it became even more manifest than at the time of . . . [Marx’s] Capital.” 

  3. Rosa Luxemburg had a half-century earlier expressed this succinctly in her October 3, 1898 speech to the Stuttgart Congress of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), that, “It is the final goal alone which constitutes the spirit and the content of our socialist struggle, which turns it into a class struggle:”
    “Think about it: what really constitutes the socialist character of our whole movement? The really practical struggle falls into three categories: the trade-union struggle, the struggle for social reforms, and the struggle to democratize the capitalist state. Are these three forms of our struggle really socialism? Not at all. Take the trade-union movement first! Look at England: not only is it not socialist there, but it is in some respects an obstacle to socialism. Social reform is also emphasized by Academic Socialists, National Socialists, and similar types. And democratization is specifically bourgeois. The bourgeoisie had already inscribed democracy on its banner before we did. . . .
    “Then what is it in our day-to-day struggles that makes us a socialist party? It can only be the relation between these three practical struggles and our final goals. It is the final goal alone which constitutes the spirit and the content of our socialist struggle, which turns it into a class struggle. And by final goal we must not mean, as [Wolfgang] Heine has said, this or that image of the future state, but the prerequisite for any future society, namely the conquest of political power. . . . This conception of our task is closely related to our conception of capitalist society; it is the solid ground which underlies our view that capitalist society is caught in insoluble contradictions which will ultimately necessitate an explosion, a collapse, at which point we will play the role of the banker-lawyer who liquidates a bankrupt company.” (Dick Howard, ed., Selected Political Writings of Rosa Luxemburg [New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971], 38–39; also available on-line at: <https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1898/10/04.htm>.)  

  4. Max Horkheimer, “The authoritarian state,” in The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, ed. Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt (New York: Continuum, 1985), 117. 

  5. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X034u2pls3M

  6. See also Horkheimer’s “The little man and the philosophy of freedom,” in Dawn and Decline, Notes 1926–31 and 1950–69, trans. Michael Shaw (New York: Seabury, 1978), 50–52. There, Horkheimer wrote that,
    “[A]lthough [the capitalists] did not themselves create the world, one cannot but suspect that they would have made it exactly as it is. . . . But for the little man who is turned down when he asks for a job because objective conditions make it impossible . . . [n]ot only his own lack of freedom but that of others as well spells his doom. His interest lies in the Marxist clarification of the concept of freedom.”
    Horkheimer paraphrased Marx and Engels’s The Holy Family (1845), where they wrote that,
    “The property-owning class and the class of the proletariat represent the same human self-alienation. But the former feels at home in this self-alienation and feels itself confirmed by it; it recognizes alienation as its own instrument and in it possesses the semblance of a human existence. The latter feels itself destroyed by this alienation and sees in it its own impotence and the reality of an inhuman existence.” (Quoted in Georg Lukács, “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat” part III “The standpoint of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics, trans. Rodney Livingstone [Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1971], 149. Available on-line at: <https://www.marxists.org/archive/lukacs/works/history/hcc07_1.htm>.)  

  7. See David Black, “The elusive threads of historical progress: The early Chartists and the young Marx and Engels,” in Platypus Review 42 (December 2011 – January 2012), available on-line at: </2011/12/01/elusive-threads-of-historical-progress/>. 

  8. See Lenin's What is to be Done? (1902), where Lenin distinguished "socialist" from "trade union consciousness:" "We have said that there could not have been Social-Democratic consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals." Available on-line at: <https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1901/witbd/ii.htm>.
    Furthermore, in a January 20, 1943 letter debating Henryk Grossmann on Marxist dialectics, Horkheimer wrote that, "It is no coincidence that [Lenin] the materialist thinker who took these questions [in Hegel] more seriously than anyone else placed all those footnotes next to the [Science of] Logic rather than next to the Philosophy of History. It was he who wanted to make the study of Hegel’s Logic obligatory and who, even if it lacked the finesse of the specialist, sought out the consequences of Positivism, in its Machian form, with the most determined single-mindedness [in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, 1908]. It was still in this Lenin sense that Lukács was attacked for his inclination to apply the dialectic not to the whole of reality but confine it to the subjective side of things." Trans. Frederik van Gelder at: <http://www.amsterdam-adorno.net/fvg2014_T_mh_grossmann_letter.html>. Original letter in German: <http://www.amsterdam-adorno.net/fvg2014_T_MH_Grossmann_letter_DEU.pdf>. 

Chris Cutrone

Platypus Review #82 | December 2015 - January 2016

fuchschristian_marx_spencer_highgateMarx and Spencer's facing graves (photograph by Christian Fuchs)

HERBERT SPENCER’S GRAVE faces Marx’s at Highgate Cemetery in London. At his memorial, Spencer was honored for his anti-imperialism by Indian national liberation advocate and anti-colonialist Shyamji Krishnavarma, who funded a lectureship at Oxford in Spencer’s name.

What would the 19th century liberal, Utilitarian and Social Darwinist, Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), who was perhaps the most prominent, widely read and popular philosopher in the world during his lifetime -- that is, in Marx’s lifetime -- have to say to Marxists or more generally to the left, when such liberalism earned not only Marx’s own scorn but also Nietzsche’s criticism? Nietzsche referred to Spencer and his broad appeal as the modern enigma of “the English psychologists.” Nietzsche critiqued what he took to be Spencer’s assumption of a historically linear-evolutionary development and improvement of human morality leading to a 19th century epitome; where Nietzsche found the successive “transvaluations of values” through profound reversals of “self-overcoming” (On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic, 1887). Nietzsche regarded modern liberal morality not as a perfection but rather as a challenge and task to achieve an “over-man,” that, failing, threatened to result in a nihilistic dead-end of “the last man” instead. Marx regarded Spencerian liberalism as an example of the decrepitude of bourgeois-revolutionary thought in decadence. Marx’s son-in-law, the French socialist Paul Lafargue, wrote, just after Marx’s death, against Spencer’s “bourgeois pessimism”, to which he offered a Marxist optimism (“A few words with Mr. Herbert Spencer,” 1884).1 Such Marxism fulfilled Nietzsche’s “pessimism of the strong.” By the late 19th century, Marxists could be confident about transcending bourgeois society. Not so today.

Spencer’s distinction of “militant” vs. “industrial” society (The Principles of Sociology vol. 2, 1879/98) -- that is to say, the distinction of traditional civilization vs bourgeois society -- is still, unfortunately, quite pertinent today, and illuminates a key current blind-spot on the ostensible "Left," especially regarding the phenomenon of war. Spencer followed the earlier classical liberal Benjamin Constant’s observation (in "The liberty of the Ancients as compared with that of the Moderns," 1816) that moderns get through commerce what the ancients got through war; and that for moderns war is always regrettable and indeed largely unjustifiably criminal, whereas for ancients war was virtuous -- among the very highest virtues. Do we moderns sacrifice ourselves for the preservation and glory of our specific “culture,” as “militants” do, or rather dedicate ourselves to social activity that facilitates universal freedom -- a value unknown to the ancients? Does the future belong to the constant warfare of particular cultural differences, or to human society? Marx thought the latter.

The question is whether we think that we will fight or, rather, exchange and produce our way to freedom. Is freedom to be achieved through “militant” or rather “industrial” society? Marx assumed the latter.

When we seek to extol our political leaders today, we do not depict them driving a tank but waking at 5 o’clock and staying up past midnight to do society’s business. We do not speak of their scars earned in combat but their grey hairs accumulated in office. Not enjoying the spoils of war on a dais but getting in their daily morning jog to remain fit for work. We judge them not as cunning warriors but as diligent workers -- and responsible negotiators. In our society, it is not the matter of a battle to win but a job to do. Carl Schmitt thought that this has led to our dehumanization. But few would agree.

What would have appeared commonplace to Spencer’s contemporary critics, such as Nietzsche and Marx, must strike us today, rather, as profoundly insightful and indeed critical of our society. This is due to the historical regression of politics and society since Marx’s time, and, moreover, to the liquidation of Marxism. What Marx would have regarded as fatally one-sided and undialectical in Spencer, would today seem adequate to the prevailing condition, in the absence of the Marxist-Hegelian dialectic. The Marxist critique of liberalism has been rendered moot, not in the sense of liberalism’s actual social supersession but by historical regression. Society has fallen below the historical threshold of not only socialism but of classical liberalism -- of bourgeois emancipation itself. Not only have we fallen below the criteria of Kant and Hegel that surpassed 18th century Empiricism, we have fallen below its 19th century successor, Positivism, as well. The question is the status today of liberalism as ideology. It is utopian. As Adorno put it, it is both promise and sham.

Militant and industrial tendencies confront each other today not as different societies, but as opposed aspects of the same society, however contradictorily and antagonistically, in capitalism. Similarly, the phases of “religious,” “metaphysical” and “positive” forms do not succeed one another sequentially in a linear development but rather interact in a dynamic of social history. What Spencer regarded as regressive “metaphysics” remains valid in capitalism, as “ideology” calling for dialectical critique. We cannot now claim to address problems in the clear air of Enlightenment.

If Adorno, for instance, critiqued sociological “positivism,” this was not as a Romantic anti-positivist such as Max Weber, but rather as a critique of positive sociology as ideology in capitalism. For Adorno, positivism and Heideggerian ontology, as well as Weberian “cultural sociology,” opposed each other in an antinomy of capitalism that would be overcome not in one principle triumphing over another, but rather in the antinomy itself being succeeded dialectically in freedom. Weber denied freedom; whereas Spencer assumed it. Both avoided the specific problem of capitalism. To take a condition of unfreedom for freedom is the most salient phenomenon of ideology. This is what falsified positivism as liberal Enlightenment, its false sense of freedom as already achieved that still actually tasked society. Freedom is not to be taken as an achieved state but a goal of struggle.

An emancipated society would be “positivist” -- Enlightened and liberal -- in ways that under capitalism can only be ideologically false and misleading. Positivism should therefore be understood as a desirable goal beyond rather than a possibility under capitalism. The problem with Herbert Spencer is that he took capitalism -- grasped partially and inadequately as bourgeois emancipation -- to be a condition of freedom that would need yet to be really achieved. If “metaphysics,” contra positivism, remains valid in capitalism, then this is as a condition to be overcome. Capitalist metaphysics is a real symptom of unfreedom. Positivism treats this as merely an issue of mistaken thinking, or to be worked out through “scientific” methodology, whereas it is actually a problem of society requiring political struggle. The antinomy of positivism vs metaphysics is not partisan but social. As Adorno observed, the same individual could and would be scientifically Positivist and philosophically ontological-Existentialist.

Spencer’s opposition to “socialism” in the 19th century was in its undeniable retrograde illiberal aspect, what Marx called “reactionary socialism.” But Marx offered a perspective on potentially transcending socialism’s one-sidedness in capitalism. Spencer was entirely unaware of this Marxian dialectic. Marx agreed with Spencer on the conservative-reactionary and regressive character of socialism. Marx offered a dialectic of socialism and liberalism presented by their symptomatic and diagnostic antinomy in capitalism that pointed beyond itself. 18th century liberalism’s insufficiency to the 19th century problem of capitalism necessitated socialist opposition; but liberalism still offered a critique of socialism that would need to be fulfilled to be transcended, and not dismissed let alone defeated as such.

Only in overcoming capitalism through socialism could, as Marx put it, humanity face its condition “with sober senses.” This side of emancipation from capital, humanity remains trapped in a “phantasmagoria” of bourgeois social relations become self-contradictory and self-destructive in capital. This phantasmagoria was both collective and individual -- socialist and liberal -- in character. Spencer naturalized this antinomy. His libertarian anti-statism and its broad, popular political appeal down through the 20th century was the necessary result of the continuation of capitalism and its discontents.

Spencer regarded the problem as a historical holdover of traditional civilization to be left behind rather than as the new condition of bourgeois society in capitalist crisis that Marx recognized needed to be, but could not be, overcome in Spencer’s liberal terms. Marx agreed with Spencer on the goal, but differed, crucially, over the nature of the obstacle and, hence, how to get there from here. Not only Spencer’s later followers (more egregiously than Spencer himself), but Marx’s own, have falsified this task. It has been neglected and abandoned. We cannot assume as Marx did that we are already past Spencer’s classical liberalism, but are driven back to it, ineluctably, whether we realize it or not. Only by returning to the assumptions of classical liberalism can we understand Marx’s critique of it. The glare of Marx’s tomb at Highgate stares down upon a very determinate object. If one disappears, they both do. | P


  1. <https://www.marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1884/06/herbert-spencer.htm

brodsky_leninsmolnypalace


II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism


Chicago: Mondays 6–9PM CST

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
112 S. Michigan Ave. room 818


required / + recommended reading


Marx and Engels readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)


Recommended winter break preliminary readings:

+ Leszek Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left” (1968)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)
+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6


Film screenings: January 2016

37 Days (2014) [Episode 1] [Episode 2] [Episode 3]
Fall of Eagles (1974) episodes: "Absolute Beginners," "The Secret War," and "End Game"
Rosa Luxemburg (1986)
• Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States (2012) Episodes A (1900-20) and B (1920-40)
Reds (1981)


Winter 2016

I. What is the "Left?" -- What is "Marxism?"

Week 10. What is Marxism? V. Reification | Jan. 9, 2016

• Georg Lukács, “The phenomenon of reification” (Part I of “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat,” History and Class Consciousness, 1923)

+ Commodity form chart of terms


Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Jan. 16, 2016

Lukács, Original Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), “Class Consciousness” (1920), History and Class Consciousness (1923)
+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital (1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302


Week 12. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Jan. 23, 2016

Korsch, “Marxism and philosophy” (1923)
+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx's dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11
+ Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15
+ Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845), pp. 143–145


Winter–Spring 2016

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Week 13. Revolutionary leadership | Jan. 30, 2016

• Rosa Luxemburg, “The Crisis of German Social Democracy” Part 1 (1915)
• J. P. Nettl, “The German Social Democratic Party 1890–1914 as a Political Model” (1965)
• Cliff Slaughter, “What is Revolutionary Leadership?” (1960)


Week 14. Reform or revolution? | Feb. 6, 2016

Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution? (1900/08)


Week 15. Lenin and the vanguard party | Feb. 13, 2016

Spartacist League, Lenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)


Week 16. What is to be done? | Feb. 20, 2016

• V. I. Lenin, What is to be Done? (1902)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)


Week 17. Mass strike and social democracy | Feb. 27, 2016

Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906)
+ Luxemburg, "Blanquism and Social Democracy" (1906)


Week 18. Permanent revolution | Mar. 5, 2016

• Leon Trotsky, Results and Prospects (1906)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)


Week 19. State and revolution | Mar. 12, 2016

Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)


Week 20. Imperialism | Mar. 19, 2016

Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)
+ Lenin, Socialism and War Ch. 1 The principles of socialism and the War of 1914–15 (1915)


Week 21. Mar. 26, 2016 (spring break)


Week 22. Apr. 2, 2016 [Platypus international convention]


Week 23. Failure of the revolution | Apr. 9, 2016

Luxemburg, “What does the Spartacus League Want?” (1918)
Luxemburg, “On the Spartacus Programme” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, "German Bolshevism" (AKA "The Socialisation of Society") (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “The Russian Tragedy” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “Order Reigns in Berlin” (1919)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)


Week 24. Retreat after revolution | Apr. 16, 2016

Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920)
+ Lenin, "Notes of a Publicist" (1922)


Week 25. Dialectic of reification | Apr. 23, 2016

Lukács, “The Standpoint of the Proletariat” (Part III of “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” 1923). Available in three sections from marxists.org: section 1 section 2 section 3


Week 26. Lessons of October | Apr. 30, 2016

Trotsky, The Lessons of October (1924) [PDF] + Trotsky, "Stalinism and Bolshevism" (1937)


Week 27. Trotskyism | May 7, 2016

+ Trotsky, "To build communist parties and an international anew" (1933)
Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (1938)
+ Trotsky, "Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay" (1940)
+ Trotsky, Letter to James Cannon (September 12, 1939)


Week 28. The authoritarian state | May 14, 2016

• Friedrich Pollock, "State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations" (1941) (note 32 on USSR)
• Max Horkheimer, "The Authoritarian State" (1942)


Week 29. On the concept of history | May 21, 2016

• epigraphs by Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson) and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche) on the modern concept of history
+ Charles Baudelaire, from Fusées [Rockets] (1867)
+ Bertolt Brecht, "To posterity" (1939)
+ Walter Benjamin, "To the planetarium" (from One-Way Street, 1928)
+ Benjamin, "Experience and poverty" (1933)
+ Benjamin, Theologico-political fragment (1921/39?)
Benjamin, "On the Concept of History" (AKA "Theses on the Philosophy of History") (1940) [PDF] • Benjamin, Paralipomena to "On the Concept of History" (1940)


Week 30. Reflections on Marxism | May 28, 2016

• Theodor Adorno, “Reflections on Class Theory” (1942)
Adorno, “Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)
+ Adorno, Dedication, "Bequest", "Warning: Not to be Misused" and "Finale", Minima Moralia (1944–47)
+ Horkheimer and Adorno, "Discussion about Theory and Praxis" (AKA "Towards a New Manifesto?") [Deutsch] (1956)


Week 31. Theory and practice | Jun. 4, 2016

+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)
Adorno, “Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)
Adorno, “Resignation” (1969)
+ Adorno, “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?” (AKA “Is Marx Obsolete?”) (1968)
+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)
+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)


Recommended preliminary background reading

+ J. P. Nettl, “The German Social Democratic Party 1890–1914 as a Political Model” (1965)

Week 1

Karl Kautsky, The Class Struggle (1892)

Week 2

Kautsky, The Road to Power (1909)

Week 3

The Organisational Structure of the Communist Parties, the Methods and Content of Their Work: Theses

The 21 Conditions of Admission into the Communist International

Leon Trotsky, The First Five Years of the Communist International (1924)
2 vols. [Volume I] [Volume II]

Recommended selections (*)

Volume I
* Author’s 1924 Introduction *
I. The First World Congress
* 1. Manifesto of the Communist International to the Workers of the World *
2. Report on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Red Army
3. Order of the Day Number 83 to the Red Army and Navy
II. From the First to the Second World Congress
* 4. To Comrades of the Spartacus League *
* 5. A Creeping Revolution *
6. Great Days
7. En Route: Thoughts on the Progress of the Proletarian Revolution
8. French Socialism on the Eve of Revolution
9. Jean Longuet
10. On the Coming Congress of the Comintern
III. The Second World Congress
* 11. Speech on Comrade Zinoviev’s Report on the Role of the Party *
* 12. Manifesto of the Second World Congress *
* Part I *
* Part II *
IV. From the Second to the Third World Congress
13. On the Policy of the KAPD (Communist Workers Party of Germany)
14. Speech Delivered at the Second World Conference of Communist Women
15. Letter to Comrade Monatte
16. Letter to Comrades Cachin and Frossard
17. On L’Humanité, the Central Organ of the French Party
V. The Third World Congress
18. The Red Army to the General Staff of the Revolution
* 19. Report on the World Economic Crisis and the New Tasks of the Communist International *
* Part I *
* Part II *
20. Summary Speech
* 21. Theses of the Third World Congress on the International Situation and the Tasks of the Comintern *
22. Speech on the Italian Question at the Third Congress of the Communist International
23. Speech on Comrade Radek’s Report on “Tactics of the Comintern” at the Third Congress
24. Speech on Comrade Lenin’s Report: “Tactics of the Russian Communist Party”
VI. From the Third to the Fourth World Congress
25. The Main Lesson of the Third Congress
26. Report on “The Balance Sheet” of the Third Congress of the Communist International
27. Summary Speech
Appendix
Towards the First World Congress
1. May Day and the International
* 2. To the Spartacus League of Germany and the Communist Party of German Austria *
* 3. Order Out of Chaos *
The First World Congress
4. Invitation to the First World Congress
From the First to the Second World Congress
5. A Letter to Our French Comrades
From the Second to the Third World Congress
6. A Letter to a French Syndicalist About the Communist Party
7. Vergeat, Lepetit and Lefebvre
8. The March Movement in Germany
9. The March Revolutionary Movement in Germany (Personal Notes)
10. May Day Manifesto of the ECCI
* 11. The Unemployed and the Trade Unions *
Volume II
From the Third to the Fourth World Congress
* 1. A School of Revolutionary Strategy (July 1921) *
* Part I *
* Part II *
2. From the ECCI to the Central Committee of the French Communist Party (June 25, 1921)
3. From the ECCI to the Marseilles Convention of the French Communist Party (December 1921)
4. Speech on Comrade Zinoviev’s Report “The Tactics of the Comintern” at the Eleventh Party Conference (December 1921)
* 5. Summary Speech at the Eleventh Party Conference (December 1921) *
* 6. Flood-tide (December 25, 1921) *
* 7. Paul Levi and Some ‘Lefts’ (January 6, 1922) *
* 8. On the United Front (March 2, 1922) *
9. Resolution of the ECCI on the French Communist Party (March 2, 1922)
10. The Communists and the Peasantry in France (April 29, 1922)
11. The Lessons of May Day (May 10, 1922)
12. From the ECCI to the Central Committee of the French Communist Party (May 12, 1922)
13. French Communism and the Position of Comrade Rappoport (May 23, 1922)
14. To Comrade Ker (June 6, 1922)
15. Resolution of the ECCI on the French Communist Party (June 11, 1922)
16. To Comrade Treint (July 28, 1922)
17. From the ECCI to the Seine Federation of the French Communist Party (Summer 1922)
18. From the ECCI to the Paris Convention of the French Communist Party (September 13, 1922)
19. From the ECCI to the Paris Convention of the French Communist Party (October 6, 1922)
The Fourth World Congress
* 20. The Fifth Anniversary of the October Revolution and the Fourth World Congress of the Communist International (October 20, 1922) *
21. Speech in Honour of the Communist International (November 7, 1922)
* 22. The New Economic Policy of Soviet Russia and the Perspectives of the World Revolution (November 14, 1922) *
* Part I *
* Part II *
* 23. The Economic Situation of Soviet Russia From the Standpoint of the Socialist Revolution (theses) (December 1, 1922) *
24. Resolution on the French Question (December 2, 1922)
25. A Militant Labour Program for the French Communist Party(December 5, 1922)
26. Resolution of the French Commission (December 2, 1922)
After the Fourth Congress
* 27. Political Perspectives (November 1922) *
28. Report on the Fourth World Congress (December 28, 1922)
29. Preface to The Communist Movement in France (March 25, 1923)
30. Is the Slogan of ’The United States of Europe’ a Timely One? (June 30, 1923)
31. Can a Counter-Revolution or a Revolution be Made on Schedule? (September 23, 1923)
* 32. To Comrade McKay (March 13, 1923) *

Week 4

Trotsky, The Third International After Lenin (1928)

Week 5

C.L.R. James, The World Revolution 1917-36 (1937)

"The most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history is the transportation of ten million human beings out of the dark beauty of their mother continent into the new-found Eldorado of the West. They descended into Hell; and in the third century they arose from the dead, in the finest effort to achieve democracy for the working millions which this world had ever seen. It was a tragedy that beggared the Greek; it was an upheaval of humanity like the Reformation and the French Revolution. Yet we are blind and led by the blind. We discern in it no part of our labor movement; no part of our industrial triumph; no part of our religious experience. Before the dumb eyes of ten generations of ten million children, it is made mockery of and spit upon; a degradation of the eternal mother; a sneer at human effort; with aspiration and art deliberately and elaborately distorted. And why? Because in a day when the human mind aspired to a science of human action, a history and psychology of the mighty effort of the mightiest century, we fell under the leadership of those who would compromise with truth in the past in order to make peace in the present and guide policy in the future."
— W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America (1935)

A series of four films on American revolutionary history 1776–1876

1873 / 1784–89 Jefferson in Paris (1995)

1839–41 Amistad (1997)

1863 Glory (1989)

1865 Lincoln (2012)


 

jeffersoninparis


Jefferson in Paris (1995) | 1873 / 1784–89

1873: Reconstruction-era Ohio: A reporter interviews Madison Hemings, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, telling their story. 1784–89: Leading up to the French Revolution, Jefferson is the U.S. ambassador to France, whose intellectuals, such as American Revolutionary War veteran Lafayette, join the revolt of the Third Estate, hoping to follow the American example. Jefferson helps them compose the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, discussing his frustration at the American failure to abolish slavery. Jefferson begins a relationship and fathers a child with his slave Sally Hemings, sister of his deceased wife, promising to free her and her children.
Directed by James Ivory. Starring Nick Nolte, Thandie Newton, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Greta Scacchi. Written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Music by Richard Robbins.

“The panic of 1873 brought sudden disillusion in business enterprise, economic organization, religious belief and political standards. A flood of appeal from the white South re-enforced this reaction — appeal with no longer the arrogant bluster of slave oligarchy, but the simple moving annals of the plight of a conquered people. The resulting emotional and intellectual rebound of the nation made it nearly inconceivable in 1876 that ten years earlier most men had believed in human equality.”
— W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America (1935)

"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce."
— Thomas Jefferson, original draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776)

"I go right back to the equality clause. It is 'all men are created equal.' I think that's the key one. And that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of happiness — it's difficult to know. It's not quite — he isn't a pleasure-seeker. And yet he knows that freedom is happiness too. That liberty will enable you to pursue happiness. And how grand it is that in a capitalistic country like this, that he did not follow Locke and have life, liberty and property. And that mystery of the pursuit of happiness suits me just fine. If the equality clause will trouble us a thousand years, as [Robert] Frost said [in North of Boston, 'The Black Cottage' (1915)], if it'll trouble us, then the pursuit of happiness will mystify us forever. And I like the trouble and I like the mystery. And that suits me just fine about Jefferson."
— James Cox in Ken Burns's PBS documentary Thomas Jefferson (1997)

"Whatever else the Civil War was for
It wasn’t just to keep the States together,
Nor just to free the slaves, though it did both.
She wouldn’t have believed those ends enough
To have given outright for them all she gave.
Her giving somehow touched the principle
That all men are created free and equal.
And to hear her quaint phrases — so removed
From the world’s view to-day of all those things.
That’s a hard mystery of Jefferson’s.
What did he mean? Of course the easy way
Is to decide it simply isn’t true.
It may not be. I heard a fellow say so.
But never mind, the Welshman got it planted
Where it will trouble us a thousand years.
Each age will have to reconsider it."
— Robert Frost, "The Black Cottage" (1915)

"The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. . . . And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
— Jefferson, Paris, November 13, 1787

"The tone of your letters had for some time given me pain, on account of the extreme warmth with which they censured the proceedings of the Jacobins of France. . . . In the struggle which was necessary, many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and with them some innocent. These I deplore as much as any body, and shall deplore some of them to the day of my death. But I deplore them as I should have done had they fallen in battle. It was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree. A few of their cordial friends met at their hands, the fate of enemies. But time and truth will rescue and embalm their memories, while their posterity will be enjoying that very liberty for which they would never have hesitated to offer up their lives. The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is."
— Jefferson, Secretary of State, letter to William Short, U.S. Ambassador to France, January 3, 1793

"I do not permit myself to take part in any new enterprises, even for bettering the condition of man, not even in the great one which is the subject of your letter [the abolition of slavery], and which has been thro' life that of my greatest anxieties. the march of events has not been such as to render it’s completion practicable within the limits of time alloted to me; and I leave it's accomplishment as the work of another generation. and I am cheared when I see that on which it is devolved, taking it up with so much good will, and such mind engaged in it’s encoragement. the abolition of the evil is not impossible: it ought never therefore to be despaired of. every plan should be adopted, every experiment tried, which may do something towards the ultimate object. that which you propose is well worthy of tryal. it has succeeded with certain portions of our white brethren, under the care of a [Christian communist George] Rapp and an [Utopian Socialist Robert] Owen; and why may it not succeed with the man of colour?"
— Jefferson to Frances Wright, August 7, 1825


 

amistad

Amistad (1997) | 1839–41

1839-41: Two decades before the outbreak of the Civil War, a slave ship on course to the east coast of the United States is overtaken by a mutiny led by one of the slaves, Cinqué. Cinqué and his crew land in Connecticut, where they face trial in a courtroom and a country full of tensions. Former President John Quincy Adams representing Cinqué before the Supreme Court argues that a coming civil war over slavery will be the "last battle of the American Revolution."
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, Morgan Freeman, and Matthew McConaughey. Music by John Williams.

"What of the Declaration of Independence? What are we to do with that embarrassing, annoying document? What of its conceits, 'all men created equal, inalienable rights, life, liberty,' and so on and so forth? . . . The Mende believe that if they can summon the spirit of one's ancestors, then they have never left. James Madison. Alexander Hamilton. Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Jefferson. George Washington. John Adams. We have long feared asking you for guidance. Perhaps in doing so, we have feared that our individuality, which we so, so revere, is not entirely our own. We’ve been made to understand, and embrace the understanding, that who we are, is who we were. We desperately need your strength and wisdom to triumph over our fears, our prejudices, ourselves. Give us the courage to do what is right. And if it means civil war, then let it come. And let it be, finally, the last battle of the American Revolution."
— Anthony Hopkins playing former President John Quincy Adams, closing argument before the U.S. Supreme Court


 

glory

Glory (1989) | 1863

1863: After the Union victory at Antietam, Lincoln orders the Emancipation Proclamation. Robert Gould Shaw, the son of an influential Abolitionist, is promoted to Colonel and given command of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first all-black regiment of Union soldiers, organized by Frederick Douglass.
Directed by Edward Zwick. Starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Cary Elwes. Music by James Horner.

Glory is based on the letters of Robert Gould Shaw, son of New England Abolitionists, chosen to lead the first black regiment in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War. After the 1960s, revisionist historiography questioned the nature of the Civil War in the fight to overcome slavery. Post-Reconstruction anti-black racism seemed to belie the struggle for social equality and freedom exemplified by Abolitionism, but, as Robert Lowell wrote in his poem during the Civil Rights era, this history continued to demand redemption.

Robert Gould Shaw by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1903)

Why was it that the thunder voice of Fate
Should call thee, studious, from the classic groves,
Where calm-eyed Pallas with still footstep roves,
And charge thee seek the turmoil of the state?
What bade thee hear the voice and rise elate,
Leave home and kindred and thy spicy loaves,
To lead th' unlettered and despised droves
To manhood's home and thunder at the gate?
Far better the slow blaze of Learning's light,
The cool and quiet of her dearer fane,
Than this hot terror of a hopeless fight,
This cold endurance of the final pain,—
Since thou and those who with thee died for right
Have died, the Present teaches, but in vain!

For the Union Dead by Robert Lowell (1960)

Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam.
("They give up everything to serve the Republic.")

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.

Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
my hand tingled
to burst the bubbles
drifting from the noses of the cowed, compliant fish.

My hand draws back. I often sigh still
for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized

fence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,
yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting
as they cropped up tons of mush and grass
to gouge their underworld garage.

Parking spaces luxuriate like civic
sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
braces the tingling Statehouse,

shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
on St. Gaudens' shaking Civil War relief,
propped by a plank splint against the garage's earthquake.

Two months after marching through Boston,
half the regiment was dead;
at the dedication,
William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes
breathe.

Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city's throat.
Its Colonel is as lean
as a compass-needle.

He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
a greyhound's gently tautness;
he seems to wince at pleasure,
and suffocate for privacy.

He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man's lovely,
peculiar power to choose life and die--
when he leads his black soldiers to death,
he cannot bend his back.

On a thousand small town New England greens,
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic.

The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year--
wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets
and muse through their sideburns . . .

Shaw's father wanted no monument
except the ditch,
where his son's body was thrown
and lost with his "niggers."

The ditch is nearer.
There are no statues for the last war here;
on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
shows Hiroshima boiling

over a Mosler Safe, the "Rock of Ages"
that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
When I crouch to my television set,
the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.

Colonel Shaw
is riding on his bubble.
he waits
for the blessèd break.

The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
a savage servility
slides by on grease


 

lincoln

Lincoln (2012) | 1865

1865: As the Civil War rages on, the President struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet as well as in Congress over the passage of a Constitutional amendment to permanently abolish slavery.
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Staring Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, and David Strathairn. Written by Tony Kushner. Music by John Williams.

THADDEUS STEVENS: When the war ends, I intend to push for full equality, the Negro vote and much more. Congress shall mandate the seizure of every foot of rebel land and every dollar of their property. We'll use their confiscated wealth to establish hundreds of thousands of free Negro farmers, and at their side soldiers armed to occupy and transform the heritage of traitors. We'll build up a land down there of free men and free women and free children and freedom. The nation needs to know that we have such plans.
LINCOLN: That's the untempered version of reconstruction. It's not exactly what I intend, but we shall oppose one another in the course of time. Now we're working together, and I'm asking you --
THADDEUS STEVENS: For patience, I expect.
LINCOLN: When the people disagree, bringing them together requires going slow till they're ready to make up --
THADDEUS STEVENS: Ah, shit on the people and what they want and what they're ready for! I don't give a goddamn about the people and what they want! This is the face of someone who has fought long and hard for the good of the people without caring much for any of `em. And I look a lot worse without the wig. The people elected me! To represent them! To lead them! And I lead! You ought to try it!
LINCOLN: I admire your zeal, Mr. Stevens, and I have tried to profit from the example of it. But if I'd listened to you, I'd've declared every slave free the minute the first shell struck Fort Sumter; then the border states would've gone over to the confederacy, the war would've been lost and the Union along with it, and instead of abolishing slavery, as we hope to do, in two weeks, we'd be watching helpless as infants as it spread from the American South into South America.
THADDEUS STEVENS: Oh, how you have longed to say that to me. You claim you trust them -- but you know what the people are. You know that the inner compass that should direct the soul toward justice has ossified in white men and women, north and south, unto utter uselessness through tolerating the evil of slavery. White people cannot bear the thought of sharing this country's infinite abundance with Negroes.
LINCOLN: A compass, I learnt when I was surveying, it'll point you True North from where you're standing, but it's got no advice about the swamps and deserts and chasms that you'll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination you plunge ahead, heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp, what's the use of knowing True North?