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At the fifth annual international convention of the Platypus Affiliated Society, speakers from various perspectives were asked to bring their experience of the Left's recent history to bear on today's political possibilities and challenges as part of the "Differing Perspectives on the Left" workshop series.

A workshop on SYRIZA, with Andreas Karitzis, held on April 6th, 2013, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

A panel held on April 6, 2013, at the 2013 Platypus International Convention at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The emergence of modernity was accompanied by the emergence of labour, its discontents, and the expression of these discontents. From the late 18th century to the present, these expressions have assumed many and often opposing forms, and these in turn have been absorbed by many and often opposing interpretations. The transformations of these discontents and of labor conditions throughout this, from the Chartist movement of the early 19th century through the socialist movements under Owen, Proudhon, and Bellamy at the end of the same century, to the mass strikes of the early 20th century, the emergence of the formally recognised and contractualised unionism of the mid to late 20th century, and the later periods of deindustrialization and neoliberalism, have in turn produced manifold interpretations of the role of the working class in society, as well as of the destiny of the labour struggle among other struggles in history. These interpretations differ most critically in their consideration of the relation of the labour struggle to the struggle for an emancipatory politics, that is, the constitution of the Left, and to the struggle for emancipation ultimately, that is, the pursuit of Utopia.

This panel will consider the development of these interpretations throughout history by exploring interpretations of labour on the Left in the present. We seek to interrogate both the relation of labor to other struggles on the Left and its once-Utopian visions of a world fundamentally transformed. We ask our speakers to engage not just with the labor movement, its limitations and prospects as they are today, and with the experience they have of it, but with the labor movement as it once was and as it could be again.

Speakers:

Steven Ashby (University of Illinois Chicago)
Sam Gindin (Socialist Project)
Andreas Karitzis (SYRIZA)

The opening plenary of 2013 Platypus International Convention, a panel held on April 5, 2013, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Recently Leo Panitch, characterized SYRIZA as “the most promising anti-neoliberal party on the European political stage”. This statement reflects the mood of many in the Left, who have seen the huge electoral empowerment of this left Greek party as a spark for a possible global reconstitution of the radical Left. SYRIZA, for them, means shifting the process of radicalization from the periphery to the center, from South America to Europe, hoping to spread even further the development of progressive governments (of which most prominent examples are Venezuela, Bolivia, Equador, et al). For others, SYRIZA is doomed to fail within the limits of the established parliamentary politics, and they are certain that its leadership will betray all hopes, as actually they think inevitably happens when left political forces, no matter how radical, think that they can use the “bourgeois state” for their causes.

Speakers:

Eirik Eiglad (New Compass)
Andreas Karitzis (SYRIZA)
James Turley (Communist Party of Great Britain)