Over June and July 2020, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a lecture series titled “The Legacy of the American Revolution”. The lectures were given by Platypus members James Vaughn, Chris Cutrone, Pamela Nogales, Spencer Leonard and Reid Kotlas. To conclude the lecture series, the lecturers convened a roundtable discussion on the fate of the American Revolution. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.
AFTER RISING UP THE RANKS of the labor movement in the 1870s and 80s, Debs was courted by the Democratic Party of Indiana to run for state legislature in 1884, and handily won the election. Yet his career as a Democratic Party politician was short-lived.
Platypus as a project seeks to relate to the contemporary left by focusing on the Left in history. We do this because we think one’s understanding of history is in fact one’s theory of the present, of how the present came to be and what might become of it. We try to understand the left politics of the present in light of what the Left has been, so as to provoke critical reflection. Is the Left today living up to the legacy it inherits? Are we falling short of the aspirations of the past? Must we?