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Gregor Baszak of the Platypus Affiliated Society conducted an interview with Cedric Johnson, author of From Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics (2007). What follows is an edited transcript of their conversation.

A SPECTER IS HAUNTING THE LEFT lately: the specter of national sovereignty. If the ghosts of dominant powers in the past were expressing existing social trends—such as the “ghost of communism” over Europe—the ghosts of the Left, instead, seem to ignore these trends. The specter of communism was a real historical force, whereas the specter of national sovereignty appears irrelevant and obsolete.

Eduardo Frajman on Populism and Podemos

On April 11, 2015, at the closing plenary of the 7th annual Platypus Affiliated Society international convention in Chicago, Chris Cutrone of Platypus, Mike Macnair of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), Adolph Reed, Jr. (University of Pennsylvania), and Tom Riley of the Internationalist Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) spoke on the topic “What is a political party for the Left?”

On April 11, 2015, The Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel discussion on democracy and the Left at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the seventh annual Platypus International Convention. In conversation were Mike Macnair, member of the Provisional Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and author of numerous works including Revolutionary Strategy (2008); August Nimtz, author of numerous works including Marx and Engels: Their Contribution to the Democratic Breakthrough (2000); Aaron Smeaton, a member of the International Communist Tendency and a contributor to leftcom.org; and Peter Staudenmaier, teacher at the Institute for Social Ecology, and veteran of anarchist, environmentalist, and anti-capitalist movements.

On February 6, 2015 the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a discussion at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt am Main on the subject of 1989 and its significance for the Left. The event’s speakers were Gerd Bedszent, a former member of the East German [GDR] opposition group Initiative für eine Vereinigte Linke [United Left] and presently of the Exit! group; Patrick Köbele, chairman of the German Communist Party; and Stefan Bollinger, author of 1989—Eine Abgebrochene Revolution (1999) and a member of Die Linke’s Historical Commission.

On April 10, 2015, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a discussion on neoliberalism and the Left featuring Walter Benn Michaels, author of The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality; Toby Chow, an organizer with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and The People’s Lobby; Margaret Power, author of Right-Wing Women in Chile: Feminine Power and the Struggle Against Allende, 1964–1973; and Donald Parkinson, a founding member of the Communist League of Tampa. The discussion was introduced and moderated by Pamela Nogales of the Platypus Affiliated Society.

The Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a discussion on the politics of anti-racism and the American left on April 11, 2015 in Chicago. The speakers were Toby Chow, an organizer with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and The People’s Lobby; Brandon Johnson, an organizer for Chicago Teachers Union (CTU); August Nimtz, author of Lenin's Electoral Strategy from 1907 to the October Revolution of 1917 (2014); and Adolph Reed, Jr., author of Stirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the Post-Segregation Era (1999).

On February 17, 2015, Gregor Baszak and Spencer A. Leonard of the Platypus Affiliated Society conducted an interview with Adolph L. Reed, Jr., author of The Jesse Jackson Phenomenon (1986), W. E. B. Du Bois and American Political Thought (1997), and Stirrings in the Jug (1999).