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In the 1840s Karl Marx wrote that social revolution would involve "carrying out the thoughts of the past," in which "humanity begins no new work but consciously completes the old work". The role of revolutionary thought for Marx, in other words, involved drawing attention to how past revolutionary tasks were failing to be worked through in present political practice; of understanding the reasons why theory and practice had changed and, in turn, how this understanding could be advanced towards the (present) completion of the (old) revolution.
From the financial crisis and the bank bail-outs to the question of “sovereign debt”; from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street; from the struggle for a unified European-wide policy to the elections in Greece and Egypt that seem to have threatened so much and promised so little—the need to go beyond mere “protest” has asserted itself: political revolution is in the air, again.
IN RESPONSE TO THE CRITIQUES of Wayne Price and Liam Swenson to my piece on anarchism in The Platypus Review #65, I will reiterate what I consider the major differences between Marxist revolutionary theory and anarchism in general. I say in general because I see nothing to be gained by dealing with the great variety of differences within anarchism itself presented by these critiques. In fact their great variety proves the very fleeting and vacillating nature of the anarchist project.
Time magazine nominated “the protester,” from the Arab Spring to the #Occupy movement, as “Person of the Year” for 2011. In addressing the culture of the #Occupy movement, Time listed some key books to be read, in a sidebar article, “How to stock a protest library.” Included were A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, The Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci, Multitude by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, and Welcome to the Desert of the Real by Slavoj Žižek.

Die Podiumsdiskussion soll die heute prominenten Vorstellungen von sozialem Wandel, Reform, Revolution und Widerstand kritisch hinterfragen und historisch einordnen. Alle stellen problematische Formen des historischen und gegenwärtigen “Antikapitalismus” dar, ohne dass Klarheit darüber herrscht, was genau damit gemeint ist – im Gegenteil, gerade angesichts vergangener Niederlagen der Linken und einer sich immer weiter verschärfenden Situation in der Gegenwart fällt auf, dass diese Konzepte heute diffuser denn je sind.

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Reform, Revolution, Widerstand: welche Bedeutung haben diese Kategorien für die heutige Linke? Wie werden sie benutzt, was sollen sie bewirken und wie ist ihre Geschichte? Wir möchten mit der Diskussion zu einer Klärung dieser Vorstellungen beitragen.
Referierende:

Thomas Seibert: Aktivist seit den 70er Jahren und Philosoph. Zahlreiche Publikationen zu Philosophie und Politik, zu Globalisierung und globalisierungskrititischen Bewegungen. Zuletzt erschienen: alle zusammen. jede für sich. die demokratie der plätze. (zus. mit M. Jäger, 2012) und Humanismus nach dem Tod des Menschen. Flucht und Rückkehr des subjektiven Faktors der Geschichte.

Norbert Trenkle: Redakteur der Zeitschrift Krisis. Co-Autor des Buches Die große Entwertung (2012).

Janine Wissler: Fraktionsvorsitzende der LINKEN in Hessen. Mitglied u.a. bei Marx 21 und ver.di.

Daniel Loick: Philosoph an der Goetheuniversität Frankfurt. Autor des Buches Kritik der Souveränität (2012).

Moderiert von: Jerzy Sobotta (Mitglied der Platypus Affiliated Society)

Eine Veranstaltung der Platypus Affiliated Society,
in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Asta der Uni-Frankfurt.

1. Seit den 1960er Jahren, und ganz besonders seit den 90ern, werden Kämpfe für soziale, wirtschaftliche und politische Emanzipation eher im Sinne von “Widerstand” verstanden anstatt in Form von strukturellen Reformen oder gar in Form einer revolutionären Transformation. Was verstehen Sie unter “Widerstand”? Welche Möglichkeit für sozialen Wandel bietet er?

2. “Widerstand” wird heutzutage ganz besonders im kulturellen Raum verortet, als politische Äußerung gegen den “Alltagswahn”. Welche implizite (wenn nicht gar explizite) Unterscheidung sehen Sie hier zwischen einer politischen Praxis, die sich gegen die Gesellschaft als Ganzes richtet, und den scheinbar einfacheren Anliegen alltäglichen Daseins?

3. Wo sehen Sie die Ursachen und Folgen dieser historischen Wendung weg von Bewegungen für reformistische oder revolutionäre Politik, hin zu Taktiken, Strategien, und dem Selbstverständnis von “Widerstand” als Praxis?

4. Wohin deuten diese Akte des “Widerstandes”, Ihrer Einschätzung nach, für mögliche soziale Emanzipation, heute und in der Zukunft?

5. Welche Veränderungen sozialer Probleme stehen uns heute bevor? Auf welche Art und Weise werden sich diese potentiellen Veränderungen äußern?

6. Welche Taktiken und Strategien kann und soll eine Linke, die sich sozialer Emanzipation verpflichtet fühlt, wählen, um diesen Wandel zu ermöglichen?

A panel discussion with audience Q & A on the problematic forms of "anticapitalism" today.
Held on Wednesday 13th June, 7pm at the University of London Union (ULU), Malet Street, London.

SPEAKERS:
Clare Solomon (co-editor of Springtime: The New Student Rebellions (2011); President of the University Of London Union in 2010)

James Heartfield (active in extra-parliamentary Left for thirty years; author of The 'Death of the Subject" Explained (2002), and the forthcoming Unpatriotic History of the Second World War (2012)).

James Turley (member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) for five years, and a regular writer for the Weekly Worker; co-editor and contributer to Red Mist, a blog of Marxist cultural commentary)

Matt Cole (organizer, researcher, editor, writer, Rousseauist; Kingston University)

Moderated by:
Laurie Rojas (founding member of the Platypus Affiliated Society, editor of the Platypus Review).

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"[After the 1960s, the] underlying despair with regard to the real efficacy of political will, of political agency [. . .] in a historical situation of heightened helplessness [. . .] became a self-constitution as outsider, as other [. . .] focused on the bureaucratic stasis of the [Fordist/late 20th Century] world: it echoed the destruction of that world by the dynamics of capital [with the neo-liberal turn after 1973, and especially after 1989].

The idea of a fundamental transformation became bracketed and, instead, was replaced by the more ambiguous notion of âresistance.â The notion of resistance, however, says little about the nature of that which is being resisted or of the politics of the resistance involved â that is, the character of determinate forms of critique, opposition, rebellion, and ârevolution.â The notion of 'resistance' frequently expresses a deeply dualistic worldview that tends to reify both the system of domination and the idea of agency.

'Resistance' is rarely based on a reflexive analysis of possibilities for fundamental change that are both generated and suppressed by [the] dynamic heteronomous order [of capital]. ['Resistance'] is an undialectical category that does not grasp its own conditions of possibility; that is, it fails to grasp the dynamic historical context of which it is a part."

- Moishe Postone, "History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism"
(Public Culture 18:1, 2006)

1. Since the 1960s, and especially since the 1990s, struggles for social, economic and political emancipation have been conceived less in terms of structural reforms or revolutionary transformation and more in terms of "resistance." How do you define âresistanceâ and how do you understand its role in possibilities for social change?

2. One powerful way "resistance" has been conceived has been in terms of "culture" and practices of âeveryday life.â How do you understand the implicit (if not explicit) distinction thus made of politics directed at society as a whole, from the more apparently mundane concerns and stakes of quotidian existence?

3. What, in your understanding, are the reasons for and the consequences of this historical shift away from movements for reform or revolutionary politics, to tactics, strategies, and self-understandings in terms of "resistance?"

4. Where do the new forms of politics of âresistanceâ point, in your estimation, for social-emancipatory possibilities, today and in the future?

5. What kinds of change do you envision on the horizon of present social concerns? How do you imagine the potential manifestations of such change?

6. What can and should those on the Left and those interested in working towards social emancipation do, tactically and strategically, in view of such possibilities for change?

Panel held on April 26th, 2012 at New York University, as part of the 3 Rs panel series.

“After the failure of the 1960s New Left, the underlying despair with regard to the real efficacy of political will, of political agency, in a historical situation of heightened helplessness, became a self-constitution as outsider, as other, rather than an instrument of transformation. Focused on the bureaucratic stasis of the Fordist, late 20th Century world, the Left echoed the destruction of that world by the dynamics of capital: neoliberalism and globalization.

The idea of a fundamental transformation became bracketed and, instead, was replaced by the more ambiguous notion of ‘resistance.’ The notion of resistance, however, says little about the nature of that which is being resisted, or of the politics of the resistance involved.

‘Resistance’ is rarely based on a reflexive analysis of possibilities for fundamental change that are both generated and suppressed by the dynamic heteronomous order of capital. ‘Resistance’ is an undialectical category that does not grasp its own conditions of possibility; it fails to grasp the dynamic historical context of capital and its reconstitution of possibilities for both domination and emancipation, of which the ‘resisters’ do not recognize that that they are a part.”

— Moishe Postone, “History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism” (Public Culture¸ 18.1: 2006)

Reform, revolution, resistance: what kind of weight do these categories hold for the Left today? How are they used, to where do they point, and what is their history? Join the Platypus Affiliated Society for a discussion concerning a question that has renewed immediacy in light of the #Occupy movement.

Speakers:
John Asimakopoulos (Institute for Transformative Studies)
Todd Gitlin (Columbia University)
Tom Trottier (Workers’ International Committee)
Ross Wolfe (Platypus Affiliated Society)


Panel held on April 16th, 2012, in Boston, as part of the 3 Rs panel series.

Thanks to Doug Enaa Greene (http://www.youtube.com/user/dwgthed) for the video recording.

“After the failure of the 1960s New Left, the underlying despair with regard to the real efficacy of political will, of political agency, in a historical situation of heightened helplessness, became a self-constitution as outsider, as other, rather than an instrument of transformation. Focused on the bureaucratic stasis of the Fordist, late 20th Century world, the Left echoed the destruction of that world by the dynamics of capital: neoliberalism and globalization.

The idea of a fundamental transformation became bracketed and, instead, was replaced by the more ambiguous notion of ‘resistance.’ The notion of resistance, however, says little about the nature of that which is being resisted, or of the politics of the resistance involved.

‘Resistance’ is rarely based on a reflexive analysis of possibilities for fundamental change that are both generated and suppressed by the dynamic heteronomous order of capital. ‘Resistance’ is an undialectical category that does not grasp its own conditions of possibility; it fails to grasp the dynamic historical context of capital and its reconstitution of possibilities for both domination and emancipation, of which the ‘resisters’ do not recognize that that they are a part.”

— Moishe Postone, “History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism” (Public Culture¸ 18.1: 2006)

Reform, revolution, resistance: what kind of weight do these categories hold for the Left today? How are they used, to where do they point, and what is their history? Join the Platypus Affiliated Society for a discussion concerning a question that has renewed immediacy in light of the #Occupy movement.

Panelists:
Jeff Booth (Socialist Alternative)
Gayge (Common Struggle Libertarian Communist Federation)
Joe Ramsey (Kasama Project)
Laura Lee Schmidt (Platypus)
J. Phil Thompson (MIT)

A moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A on problems of strategies and tactics on the Left today.
Panelists:

Clare O'Connor,
Baolinh Dang (Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee- Revolutionary Students Movement),
Cam Hardy (Platypus),
Megan Kinch (#Occupy, Toronto Media Co-Op), and
Jim Stanford (Canadian Auto Workers).

"After the failure of the 1960s New Left, the underlying despair with regard to the real efficacy of political will, of political agency, in a historical situation of heightened helplessness, became a self-constitution as outsider, as other, rather than an instrument of transformation. Focused on the bureaucratic stasis of the Fordist, late 20th Century world, the Left echoed the destruction of that world by the dynamics of capital: neoliberalism and globalization.

The idea of a fundamental transformation became bracketed and, instead, was replaced by the more ambiguous notion of 'resistance.' The notion of resistance, however, says little about the nature of that which is being resisted, or of the politics of the resistance involved.

'Resistance' is rarely based on a reflexive analysis of possibilities for fundamental change that are both generated and suppressed by the dynamic heteronomous order of capital. 'Resistance' is an undialectical category that does not grasp its own conditions of possibility; it fails to grasp the dynamic historical context of capital and its reconstitution of possibilities for both domination and emancipation, of which the 'resisters' do not recognize that that they are a part."

- Moishe Postone, "History and Helplessness: Mass mobilization and contemporary forms of anticapitalism" (2006)

A moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A on problems of strategies and tactics on the Left today held on Thursday, 19 January 2012 at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Panelists:
Eric Anatolik (Occupy NS)
Jacques Beaudoin (Parti communiste revolutionnaire - Revolutionary Communist Party, Canada)
Howard Epstein (New Democratic Party MLA Halifax Chebucto)
Max Haiven (Edu-Factory, Historical and Critical Studies NSCAD)
Andony Melathopoulos (Platypus)

The panel was moderated by Pam Nogales.

"After the failure of the 1960s New Left, the underlying despair with regard to the real efficacy of political will, of political agency, in a historical situation of heightened helplessness, became a self-constitution as outsider, as other, rather than an instrument of transformation. Focused on the bureaucratic stasis of the Fordist, late 20th Century world, the Left echoed the destruction of that world by the dynamics of capital: neoliberalism and globalization.

"The idea of a fundamental transformation became bracketed and, instead, was replaced by the more ambiguous notion of 'resistance.' The notion of resistance, however, says little about the nature of that which is being resisted, or of the politics of the resistance involved.

"'Resistance' is rarely based on a reflexive analysis of possibilities for fundamental change that are both generated and suppressed by the dynamic heteronomous order of capital. 'Resistance' is an undialectical category that does not grasp its own conditions of possibility; it fails to grasp the dynamic historical context of capital and its reconstitution of possibilities for both domination and emancipation, of which the 'resisters' do not recognize that that they are a part."

-- Moishe Postone, "History and Helplessness: Mass mobilization and contemporary forms of anticapitalism" (2006)