On October 31, 2015, Jamie Keesling and Spencer A. Leonard of the Platypus Affiliated Society conducted an interview with Martin Jay, author of The Dialectical Imagination (1973), Marxism and Totality (1984), Essays from the Edge: Parerga & Paralipomena (2011), and Reason after Its Eclipse: On Late Critical Theory (2016) among others.
Famously, Clement Greenberg wrote in 1939 that the avant-garde is connected to the bourgeoisie by an “umbilical cord of gold.” This image has become so familiar that its peculiarities are rarely commented upon. The point is not simply the obvious one for Marxists, that art reflects the interests of a bourgeois class.
The campaign cycle for the 2016 general election in the U.S. has been characterized by some throwbacks to the 1980s, most notably in the two major party challengers, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Most remarkably, the Sanders campaign has introduced the word “socialism” into mainstream political discourse. It’s clear that what socialism means in Sanders’s mouth, however, is New Deal liberalism -- despite the poster of Eugene V. Debs that hangs in Sanders’s Senate office.
ONE OF THE DEFINING MOMENTS of the recent general federal election for the Canadian left was the release on September 15 of the Leap Manifesto. The Manifesto, spearheaded by prominent left Canadian intellectuals such as Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis, David Suzuki, and Martin Lukacs as well as notable celebrities such as Donald Sutherland and Leonard Cohen, included a bold call for respect for Indigenous rights, transition to a “clean economy,” and a guaranteed annual income. Moreover, it attempted to steer the terms of political discussion in Canada to the left and put pressure on the New Democratic Party (NDP) to reorient its campaign in a more imaginative and bold direction. The Manifesto clearly signaled that in the social base of the NDP and in the Left outside of the party there was a growing sense of frustration with Tom Mulcair’s overly cautious leadership.