J.M. Bernstein, Lydia Goehr, Gregg Horowitz, and Chris Cutrone Platypus Review 31 | January 2011 On Saturday, November 20, 2010, Platypus hosted a panel entitled “The Relevance of Critical Theory to Art Today” moderated by Chris Mansour at The New School for Social Research in New York. The panel consisted of Philosophy Professors J.M. Bernstein [...]PR web editor | 4 comments | Continued
All Posts Tagged With: "Trotsky"
Jerzy Sobotta Uli vom Hagen’s response to my article on the current state of the German Left engages in a remarkable apology for its nationalism, which results from its near complete failure to digest the dangerous policies of the German KPD of the 1920s and 30s. With his focus on the events of 1923 and [...]PR web editor | 1 comment | Continued
Chris Cutrone DAVID BLACK’S VALUABLE COMMENTS and further historical exposition (in Platypus Review 18, December 2009) of my review of Karl Korsch’s Marxism and Philosophy (Platypus Review 15, September 2009) have at their core an issue with Korsch’s account of the different historical phases of the question of “philosophy” for Marx and Marxism. Black questions [...]PR web editor | 0 comments | Continued
Uli vom Hagen THE ASSUMPTION THAT ROSA LUXEMBURG’S CORPSE has significance for the state of the German Left, though perhaps not her body, is tempting. Luxemburg was a Polish socialist involved in a European socialist movement during a time when there was no sovereign Polish state. She was successively a member of the Social Democratic [...]PR web editor | 1 comment | Continued
For the American Left in the first half the 20th century—commonly referred to as the “Old Left”— the task of advancing freedom entailed a thoroughgoing critique of the racist institutions in American society, a socioeconomic and historical analysis of their origins and contemporary function, as well as practical efforts to eradicate these structures. In other words, racism was the challenge faced by the American Old Left. However, to a large extent it evaded the very challenge it set for itself by accepting the characterization of the black population’s political situation as “the Negro problem.” Only the best of the Old Left pushed against this characterization. The New Left, seeking to overcome the Old Left’s shortcomings and receiving a great impulse from the demands of the Civil Rights movement to do so, would nevertheless come to reenact the previous generation’s failings. This brings forth an uncomfortable question: if Marxists in the United States were unable to meet the challenge of raising racism to the level of a transformable reality, then to what extent can we speak of an American tradition of Marxism—a Marxism adequate to the situation of American capitalism—at all?PR web editor | 0 comments | Continued
The Decline of the Left in the 20th Century
Toward a Theory of Historical Regression
THE DATE PROPOSED for me to discuss, 1933, immediately summons up two names: Roosevelt and Hitler—Reformism or Barbarism. I wish, though, to couple them with another pair, and another date. The date is 1940. The names are Trotsky and Benjamin. These four names are meant both as contrasts and parallels. At first glance, Hitler and Roosevelt, the New Deal and fascism, might seem polar opposites. But many contemporaries understood Roosevelt and fascism as addressing comparable problems, albeit by somewhat different methods. Similarly, while Benjamin the melancholic mandarin and Trotsky the fiery revolutionary might seem at opposite poles of Marxist discourse, it is the thesis of Platypus that they are both responses to the same crisis of Marxism, just as Hitler and Roosevelt are responses to the crisis of capitalism. These two crises, the crisis of capitalism and the crisis of Marxism, have determined the history of the 20th century, and continue to weigh on the history of the 21st.
KARL KORSCH’S SEMINAL ESSAY on “Marxism and Philosophy” (1923) is a historical treatment of the problem from Marx and Engels’s time through the 2nd International to the crisis of Marxism and the revolutions of 1917–19 in Russia, Germany and beyond. More specifically, Korsch took up the development and vicissitudes of the relation between theory and practice in the history of Marxism, which he considered the “philosophical” problem of Marxism. Korsch, like Georg Lukács and the thinkers in Frankfurt School critical theory, was inspired by the “subjective” aspect of Marxism exemplified by Lenin’s irreducible role in the October Revolution. Korsch was subsequently denounced as a “professor” in the Communist International and quit the movement, embracing council communism and shunning Marxian theory, writing an “Anti-Critique” in 1930 that critiqued Marxism as such, and by 1950 actively seeking to liquidate the difference between Marxian and anarchist approaches. In so doing, Korsch succumbed to what Adorno termed “identity thinking.” By assuming the identity of theory and practice, or of social being and consciousness in the workers’ movement, Korsch abandoned his prior discernment and critical grasp of their persistent antagonism in any purported politics of emancipation.admin | 10 comments | Continued
I am writing with some very brief notes on Adorno’s last writings from 1968-69, the “Marginalia to Theory and Praxis,” “Resignation,” “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society? (AKA “Is Marx Obsolete?”),” and the Adorno-Marcuse correspondence of 1969. The center of Adorno’s critique of the 1960s New Left was their romantic opposition to capitalism, found, for example, [...]Chris Cutrone | 0 comments | Continued
I am writing with some brief notes on Trotsky’s Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the 4th International, AKA the Transitional Programme for Socialist Revolution (1938). Trotsky and the phenomenon of Trotskyism was and remains a highly controversial political and historical phenomenon, but one to which one’s reaction is highly symptomatic and indicative. [...]Chris Cutrone | 0 comments | Continued
I am writing with some notes on our readings from Luxemburg and Trotsky on the Bolshevik Revolution and the greater revolutionary crisis of 1917-19. I will discuss the relation of Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky in the revolutionary period under consideration. Our recent discussions of 1917-19 has taken 2 parts, Luxemburg’s Spartacus writings from the German [...]Chris Cutrone | 0 comments | Continued