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No act during the Bolshevik Revolution is more controversial than the decision to suppress the Constituent Assembly in January 1918. A century later, no question is politically more relevant.
On October 12, 2017, Erin Hagood interviewed Mark Bray, a participant in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, lecturer at Dartmouth and author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, to discuss the relationship of the anti-fascist movement to the Left and the challenges it faces in the age of Trump. The interview was aired during an episode of “Radical Minds” on WHPK-FM 88.5 Chicago. What follows is an edited transcript of the interview.
IN HIS LATEST BOOK Continuity and Rupture (2016), professor of philosophy at York University Josh Moufawad-Paul argues that the science of revolution has undergone a qualitative change in its epistemological foundation. What was taken as truth in the theory of Marxism-Leninism needs to be reconsidered in the light of the continual unfolding of history. The contradictions of Leninism can no longer be ignored, both in the light of the wealth of 20th century Marxist philosophy as well as the concrete experiences of class struggle.
WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP ANNOUNCED the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Accord on June 1, 2017, for many liberals it meant that doom was upon us, that the earth was surely soon to be uninhabitable. Yet, if the Paris Accord was the best shot that our civilization had at survival, we were perhaps doomed from the start. NASA scientist James Hansen, at least, one of the earliest voices to raise the alarms about the effects of climate change, had deemed the Accord to be thoroughly inadequate to begin with.
On September 15, 2017 at the University of Houston the Platypus Affiliated Society organized a panel discussion, Anti-fascism in the Age of Trump. Participating on the panel were Gloria Rubac of the Workers World Party; Gus Breslauer of Redneck Revolt; Mark Kazanski of Socialist Alternative, Houston; and Bernard Sampson of the Communist Party, U.S.A., and the Democratic Socialists of America. Danny Jacobs of Platypus moderated. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.
The academic establishment can betray its trust in many ways; one of them is the teaching of irrelevant modes of thought not geared to understanding that which is really going on. The goal of teaching and learning has been set by the Western tradition: It is no longer (if it ever was) free choice; we have to work with the historical heritage which has shaped our thought and action, theory and practice.
The Millennial Left has been subject to the triple knock-out of Obama, Sanders, and Trump. Whatever expectations it once fostered were dashed over the course of a decade of stunning reversals. In the aftermath of George W. Bush and the War on Terror; of the financial crisis and economic downturn; of Obama’s election; of the Citizens United decision and the Republican sweep of Congress; of Occupy Wall Street and Obama’s reelection; and of Black Lives Matter emerging from disappointment with a black President, the 2016 election was set to deliver the coup de grâce to the Millennials’ “Leftism.”
Following the clashes in Charlottesville on August 12th, and massive anti-fascist demonstrations afterwards in Durham, Boston, the Bay Area, and elsewhere, the struggle against fascism has arrived in the consciousness of the general public. Tens of thousands of people are realizing that the fight against fascism did not end in 1945. Today, as increasingly authoritarian governments collude with ascendant fascist movements all around the world, this battle is more pressing than ever.
Revolutionaries study revolutions. Many lessons might be learned from looking at the 1917 Russian Revolution and its aftermath. It began with such promise, bringing hope of a world without war, oppression, capitalism, imperialism, and states. How did it result in Stalinist mass murder and state capitalism, and finally to collapse back into traditional capitalism?
A Channel 4 News interview with the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek circulated on the internet during November 2016, just days before the U.S. presidential election. In the video, the leftist philosopher appears in his usual manner—twitchy, repeatedly rubbing his nose—as he answers the question as to who would win his vote if he were American. Without hesitation, Žižek belts out, “Trump!” Then he elaborates: Trump is not the better candidate, or even likable, but Clinton poses the threat of absolute inertia.