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Socialism, Feminism and the New Left: a teach-in at UIC

Socialism, feminism and the New Left

Juliet Mitchell and the recovery of Marxism

A teach-in hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society
"Socialism will be a process of change, of becoming. A fixed image of the future is in the worst sense ahistorical. . . . As Marx wrote: 'What is progress if not the absolute elaboration of humanity's creative dispositions . . . unmeasured by any previously established yardstick[,] an end in itself . . . the absolute movement of becoming?' . . . The liberation of women under socialism will [be] . . . a human achievement, in the long passage from Nature to Culture which is the definition of history and society."
-- Juliet Mitchell, "Women: The Longest Revolution" (1966)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 5PM

Univ. Illinois Chicago Stevenson Hall 701 S. Morgan St. room 319

Juliet Mitchell's groundbreaking essay, "Women: The Longest Revolution" (1966), brilliantly anticipated the feminist critique of Marxism. But Mitchell found feminism, too, to be lacking. Far from dismissing Marxism as some retrograde, patriarchal theory, Mitchell embarked on an effort to recover Marxism as a philosophy of freedom that could orient political activists' efforts to overturn sexism and revolutionize society. Unfortunately, women's liberation activists failed to heed Mitchell's call to attend critically to history to help get a better grasp of and clarity about the pursuit of gender and sexual liberation, and abandoned the utopian possibilities of socialism, in favor of the politics of established social identities. Join us to reconsider the potential paths of Marxism not taken by post-1960s radicalism, and discuss what could be involved in reformulating a theory of sexual freedom that answers the needs of the present.

Suggested reading - Juliet Mitchell's Women: The Longest Revolution

The Platypus Affiliated Society, established in 2006, focuses on problems and tasks inherited from the "Old" (1920s–'30s), "New" ('60s–'70s), and post-political ('80s–'90s) Left for the possibilities of emancipatory politics today.

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