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Platypus Publishing

The Platypus Review Reader, 2007-2014Edited by Spencer A. Leonard

The Platypus Review Reader, 2007-2014 contains a selection of 50 articles distributed across ten headings: Marxism in the 20th century, the anti-war movement, the legacy of the New Left, Israel-Palestine, the election of Barack Obama, the economic crisis, art, the history of Marxism, Lenin, and the #Occupy Movement.

The Reader documents a central expression of the Platypus Affiliated Society’s project of clearing the obstacles to the formation of a new Left. In its pages, whether in edited forum transcripts, interviews, or articles, the speakers, interviewees, and authors seek in collaboration with the Platypus Review editors to explore the suggestion in the paper’s Statement of Purpose to the effect that “What exists today is built upon the desiccated remains of what was once possible.” The aim is not to lament, much less decry, the ruin, but instead to make conscious the discontinuity with what was (“the death of the Left”). Doing so requires recognizing what the Left that once existed was, so that the prospect of its reemergence (in necessarily much altered form) can begin at least to be contemplated (and felt as a need).

The Platypus Review expresses a desire to “bury the dead,” or, better, to actively assist in letting the dead bury themselves. Its aim is not to denigrate, much less stifle, any movement or campaign, however modest, but to see that the rites be performed that death demands if there is to be any possibility of its enabling a future regeneration of actual leftist politics. The Review sought to do this by performing the function of curation. As this was expressed in the Statement of Purpose, the dead weight of the Left, so palpable in the anti-war movement, could not “be cast off by sheer will, by simply ‘carrying on the fight.’” Rather, it “must be addressed and itself made an object of critique.” We could not ourselves—whether by study and reflection or by experience (and further reflection)—attain perspectives superior to those we nevertheless seek to resituate as objects of critique and appropriation for a new generation. As we rather hopefully put it in our editorial statement, “To make sense of the present, we find it necessary to disentangle the vast accumulation of positions on the Left and to evaluate their saliency for the possible reconstitution of emancipatory politics in the present.” What we faced on the Left, we felt, was in fact a “vast accumulation of positions,” and this demanded that we evolve a strategic orientation and an activity based not so much in the “positions” themselves as to their manner of “accumulation.” This was the aspiration of the PR from its earliest inception. It is an enterprise upon which it embarked in its first issue with what appears, in retrospect, an uncanny self-awareness, one that perhaps no other post-New Left moment could have afforded and, certainly, a self-awareness that none other did.

616 pages
6.7” X 1.4’’ X 9.5”
2.6 lbs.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Acknowledgements

Statement of purpose of the Platypus Review

Marxism in the 20th century

1 The decline of the Left in the 20th century: Toward a theory of historical regression
 Benjamin Blumberg, Chris Cutrone, Atiya Khan, Spencer A. Leonard, and Richard Rubin
2 Learning from the Communist Movement of the 20th century: A response to Richard Rubin
 Grover Furr

The anti-war movement

3 Imperialism: What is it? Why should we be against it?
 Kevin Anderson, Chris Cutrone, Nick Kreitman, Danny Postel, and Adam Turl
4 The 3 Rs—Reform, revolution, and “resistance”: The problematic forms of “anti-capitalism” today
 Michael Albert, Chris Cutrone, Stephen Duncombe, and Brian Holmes
5 Going it alone: Christopher Hitchens and the death of the Left
 Spencer A. Leonard

The legacy of the New Left

6 To the victor, the spoils: Review of Artforum’s May 2008 issue “May ’68”
 Benjamin Blumberg
7 Book Review: Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
 Sunit Singh
8 You don’t need a Marxist to know which way the wind blows: An interview with Mark Rudd
 Spencer A. Leonard and Atiya Khan
9 Chinoiserie: A critique of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA’s “New Synthesis”
 Chris Cutrone
10 Up in the air: The legacy of the New Communist Movement: An interview with Max Elbaum
 Spencer A. Leonard
11 Which way forward for sexual liberation?
 Kenyon Farrow, Greg Gabrellas, Gary Mucciaroni, and Sherry Wolf
12 Emancipation in the heart of darkness: An interview with Juliet Mitchell
 Sunit Singh
13 “These petrified relations must be forced to dance”: An interview with Dick Howard
 Douglas La Rocca and Spencer A. Leonard

Israel-Palestine

14 Which way forward for Palestinian liberation?
 Hussein Ibish and Joel Kovel with Richard Rubin
15 Communism and Israel
 Initiative Sozialistisches Forum
16 German psycho: A reply to the Initiative Sozialistisches Forum
 Felix Baum
17 Marxism and Israel: Left perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
 Alan Goodman and Richard Rubin

The election of Barack Obama

18 Progress or regress? The future of the Left under Obama
 Chris Cutrone, Stephen Duncombe, Pat Korte, Charles Post, and Paul Street
19 Black politics in the age of Obama
 Cedric Johnson and Mel Rothenberg

The economic crisis

20 Living Marxism
 James Heartfield
21 Why the U.S. stimulus package is bound to fail
 David Harvey
22 Symptomology: Historical transformations in social-political context
 Chris Cutrone
23 Resurrecting the '30s: A response to David Harvey and James Heartfield
 Ian Morrison
24 Letter from Greece: Brief notes on revolt and crisis in Greece and the Greek situation
 Thodoris Velissaris
25 Radical interpretations of the present crisis
 David Graeber, Saul Newman, Hillel Ticktin, and James Woudhuysen
26 The politics of work
 Stanley Aronowitz, Robert Pollin, and Jason Wright

Art

27 Is the funeral for the wrong corpse? An interview with Hal Foster
 Omair Hussain and Bret Schneider
28 “I can’t go on, I’ll go on”: A response to “Questionnaire on ‘The Contemporary’” in October and “What is Contemporary Art?” in e-flux
 Chris Mansour
29 After Hegel: An interview with Robert Pippin
 Omair Hussain

The history of Marxism

30 Marx after Marxism: An interview with Moishe Postone
 Benjamin Blumberg and Pam C. Nogales C.
31 Capital in history: The need for a Marxian philosophy of history of the Left
 Chris Cutrone
32 An unmet challenge: Race and the Left in America
 Benjamin Blumberg
33 Against dogmatic abstraction: A critique of Cindy Milstein on anarchism and Marxism
 Chris Cutrone
34 The Marxist hypothesis: A response to Alain Badiou’s “communist hypothesis”
 Chris Cutrone
35 Overcoming bourgeois right: An interview with Mel Rothenberg
 Spencer A. Leonard
36 The politics of Critical Theory
 Nicholas Brown, Chris Cutrone, Andrew Feenberg, and Richard Westerman
37 Subject, class, and the Hegelian legacy in critical social theory
 Timothy Hall
38 The elusive “threads of historical progress”: The early Chartists and the young Marx and Engels
 David Black
39 Marx and Wertkritik
 Elmar Flatschart, Jamie Merchant, and Alan Milchman

Lenin

40 Lenin’s liberalism
 Chris Cutrone
41 October 1921: Lenin looks back
 Lars T. Lih
42 Lenin’s legacy today
 Tamas Krausz
43 Lenin’s politics: A rejoinder to David Adam on Lenin’s liberalism
 Chris Cutrone
44 Lenin and the Marxist Left after #Occupy
 Ben Lewis and Tom Riley with Chris Cutrone
45 The relevance of Lenin today
 Chris Cutrone

The #Occupy Movement

46 A cry of protest before accommodation? The dialectic of emancipation and domination
 Chris Cutrone
47 The #Occupy movement, a renascent Left, and Marxism today: An interview with Slavoj Žižek
 Haseeb Ahmed with Chris Cutrone
48 The movement as an end-in-itself? An interview with David Graeber
 Ross Wolfe
49 What is the #Occupy Movement? A roundtable discussion
 Hannah Appel, Jeremy Cohan, Erik Van Deventer, Brian Dominick, and Nathan Schneider

Epilogue

50 Class consciousness (from a Marxist perspective) today
 Chris Cutrone

Appendices

I What is a Platypus? On Surviving the Extinction of the Left
II A Short History of the Left
III Statement of Purpose of the Platypus Affiliated Society
IV The Platypus Synthesis
 Ian Morrison, Richard Rubin, and Chris Cutrone